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Daily Inspiration: Meet Crystal Grooms Mangano

Today we’d like to introduce you to Crystal Grooms Mangano.

Hi Crystal, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I always loved music in movies and tv shows, whether it was the ear-catching theme song to “ER”, the sweeping melodies of “Legends of the Fall”, or that perfect needle drop in a romantic comedy. I knew I wanted to be involved in music for movies and TV, but I wasn’t quite sure how to get there.

I grew up in Casper, Wyoming playing music with as many ensembles as possible. Starting first with piano, I expanded to play in handbell choirs, flute/piccolo with bands and orchestras, and electric bass to accompany the jazz choir or in the pit for musicals. I went to Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana to study film production and music performance at the same time. After graduating with degrees in both, and spending some time working on the occasional reality television show that would film in Montana and Wyoming, I decided it was time to make the move the Los Angeles. My then boyfriend (now husband) and I packed up a U-Haul and drove off to California where I began an internship with a music clearance and licensing company, The Music Bridge. Quickly, I was hired full time as a music coordinator. There I gained an extremely valuable education in music rights for all media, from feature films to toy dancing Santas.

After a year at The Music Bridge, I started working for Emmy-nominated composer/guitarist Mark Leggett as his assistant and music editor. At the time Mark was scoring “My Name is Earl” with Danny Lux. After spending 8 wonderful years working with Mark as his music editor and studio manager, I began to venture into the world of composition and music supervision on my own. I started my own company, Groomsy Music, where I provide a variety of music services for film and television including composition (“Asperger’s Are Us”, “No Escape”) and music supervision (“Standing Up, Falling Down”, “Don’t Tell a Soul”, “Chrissy Judy”, “Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings”). I recently scored the feature documentary “Duty Free” and am currently music supervising the Christmas movie “Dolly Parton’s Mountain Magic Christmas”.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I feel fortunate that overall I have had a very positive experience working in the entertainment industry, filled primarily with kindness, mentorship, and creativity among those I work with. One challenge I find is because work comes in waves, it can be difficult to achieve a healthy work/life balance. Also, some of my greatest challenges come from separating myself personally from my work. As a composer you often feel vulnerable. It can feel as if you send out a bit of yourself with every piece of music or demo, and if the response is not positive it can be crushing.

A few years ago, I composed a demo for a film that I thought I was perfect for, but I didn’t get the gig. However, instead of going down a dangerous thought spiral where I question my abilities as a composer, which I unfortunately had found myself doing in past similar situations, I simply thought, “Oh, ok, they went with someone else”. It was incredibly liberating because I felt proud of the work I had done and was able to move freely into the next project.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I enjoy working with music for all media, but I often find myself drawn to documentaries. Many times I am inspired by the subjects of the films and am excited to be a part of their journey. As a composer, music supervisor, and music editor, working with all different aspects of music for a production allows me to have comprehensive conversations with the directors and producers as to what approach for the music is going to be the best fit for the production. So many decisions ultimately come down to the budget, and I like being able to find creative ways to maximize that budget while also maximizing the music’s contribution to the story.

My favorite part of my job is the people I work with, and I’m most proud of the relationships I’ve built. It’s those relationships that give meaning to my work and keep me coming back for the next project.

Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting out?
This is a really challenging industry. It is fiercely competitive and can take a long time to see growth. I realized a few years ago that I kept “waiting for it to get easier”. I don’t think it ever actually gets easier, you just get stronger and more resilient. You’ll probably also learn more from your “failures” than from your “successes”, so don’t worry about failing, it’s likely to happen on occasion and you will be better for it.

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Image Credits
Gina Cholick Noah Rosenthal

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