Recording Arts Alum Americo Barbosa’s Experience on the Rihanna Tour


A Roman philosopher, once said, “Luck is where the crossroads of opportunity and preparation meet.” From London to Paris to Japan and many, many other countries, Americo X Barbosa, a Recording Arts alumni of The Los Angeles Recording School, toured the world working for the iconic platinum-selling recording artist, Rihanna. Americo was also fortunate to work on records that housed major artists such as Pitbull, Jadakiss, Jim Jones, Cassidy and more. “Challenge luck through preparation and challenge opportunity through initiative,” is a motto that Americo subscribes to and lives by.

His story also reflects another life lesson: when one door closes, another one opens. Americo was all set to work on Earth, Wind and Fire’s tour through his mentor Mikey Monteiro when suddenly out of the blue it fell through. For a month Americo was upset and wondering what his next move was going to be until he got the phone call that they were booked to work on Rihanna’s tour. Immediately after he found out he was on the plane heading to London. The next few months Americo worked as a keyboard technician, always being one of the first and last at the performance venues. “We worked so hard the only time we had to sleep was on the plane. However, once we got to Europe then we had some time to enjoy ourselves. Sweden was my favorite stop,” Americo explains. The techs, musicians and engineers all work together and always have to be on top of their game. If one person slips up, it brings everyone else down with them. Overall, Rihanna’s Tour was an amazing experience for Americo, as he learned a lot about the touring life and live event production.

Before the Rihanna tour and right after graduation, Americo interned for Jimmy Douglas, the four-time Grammy-winning recording engineer and producer who has engineered everyone from The Rolling Stones to Aaliyah, Missy Elliot, Ginuwine, Jay-Z, and Timbaland. When the opportunity presented itself, Americo hopped on the plane to Miami and started working with Jimmy Douglas right away, albeit not in the studio for the first month. He had to earn his way in there. “It was definitely an intense experience. The second day there I had completed all my tasks and was waiting to hear from him what to do next when he said, ‘What are you doing?’ and I said, ‘Waiting for…’ and he cut me off saying ‘That’s exactly what’s wrong with this picture. You’re waiting for me to tell you what to do.’ And from that point on I always made sure to keep busy, even if it was cleaning up, organizing or just anything to stay busy.” However that’s how it is in the field, and one can’t have an ego or get offended easily. “One thing I learned was that it’s not as important what you do in the studio, but what you do outside that counts. Your behavior, how you conduct yourself, how you treat people, stuff like that.” Americo says when asked to elaborate more on what he learned while interning for Jimmy Douglas.
After five months in Miami learning the ins and outs of mixing and mastering in the studio, Americo decided to come back to LA to work, since “Miami is not the same as LA and it’s more difficult to effectively network and met industry people there.” Upon arrival, Americo started working with Duane “DaRock” Ramos being his right-hand man and working in the studio mixing and fixing vocals for hip hop greats like Jim Jones, Styles P, Cassidy and more. He also was training with his mentor Mikey Monteiro by working on programming and keyboard technician skills. As part of the Rihanna tour, Americo worked on Rihanna’s performance on Saturday Night Live. Americo shared an amusing story about how right before Rihanna performed “Stay”, the bassist yelled out, “My volume is off, I can’t hear anything!” as there was an issue with the speaker and cables. It was literally seconds before the show aired, as they counted down 10, 9, 8, 7, between 7 and 1 they were able to hook the speaker back up and get it going again. Talk about working under pressure! Also as part of the tour, he worked on the hit NBC show The Voice as well as the 2012 MTV Music Video Awards.

The next steps for Americo include learning more about programming since he has some experience with it. Also, it doesn’t hurt that programming is a higher paying job. Eventually, he wants to run his own music production company that books tours for artists. He plans on learning more about the business side of the industry to become a mogul like his role models Jay-Z and Steven Stoute. Americo has been fortunate to surround himself with positive people, including former classmates Drew Adams, who worked as Dave Pensado’s assistant, and Marshall Bryant who works with Rodney Jerkins. 2012 was a great year for Americo, as he started it out celebrating at Jamie Foxx’s New Year’s Eve party. Currently, he is working for Jamie Foxx as a programmer and will be in New Orleans for Super Bowl weekend. Considering all that has happened in his career in such a short amount of time, we’re sure 2013 and beyond will be good for Americo.