Nancy Rico-Mineros discusses her projects, including her role with NYU’s radio station and serving on the panel of “She is the Music”, a non-profit founded by Alicia Keys. She shares her early influences, experience in the Music Technology Program, and post-graduation plans.
What degree are you pursuing?
I am a third year student in the Music Technology Program pursuing a bachelor’s in Music. I am from Camden, NJ and am the first in my family to go to college. NYU was my dream school, so when I was accepted, it was the happiest day of my life.
What inspired you to learn about Music Technology?
My elementary school had a small band program. I learned how to play the flute and was quite good at it. I dabbled in mixing and mastering and liked it.
I was inspired by Emily Lazar, who is an NYU alumna. She became the first woman to win a Grammy for best engineered album in 2018, and is my all-time hero. If Emily Lazar was able to make it, I thought so could I.
What is your role at WNYU (NYU’s radio station)?
I am the engineering director. I record sessions and am the engineer and troubleshooting tech. I've gotten to meet a lot of cool bands making their way in the New York music scene.
Being able to teach people about recording and mixing is something I’m passionate about. I host the radio show “The Sound Between,” which is about finding new, exciting music that people may not know yet.
What was the summer research project you participated in?
During my sophomore year, I got an email saying that the Music and Audio Research Lab (MARL) was looking for students who are interested in the Research for Undergraduate Experience (RUE). Each student is given a specific project and they get to work closely with faculty and other researchers. I was interviewed by Assistant Professor Brian McFee and was able to work under his direction.
One of McFee’s areas of research is Music Information Retrieval (MIR). It's basically the study of training computers to understand music the way we do.
To explain my project without overcomplicating things, there’s a data set of YouTube videos that are classified in two ways: the audio component and the visual component. A lot of times the visual thumbnail does not align with the audio component. We are working on building a model that classifies these things.
The team at MARL recommended I apply to a two-week program at Stanford University, Deep Learning for Music Information Retrieval. I got into the program with a full scholarship. Working at MARL over the summer and completing this workshop has allowed me to fully embrace the world of music information retrieval and shifted my area of interest more into research.
What is your advice for incoming and prospective students?
Don’t be ashamed of not knowing anything. When I began the program, I had severe imposter syndrome. I come from a challenging financial situation and I didn't have the resources my peers had in terms of access to recording studio equipment, music education and a musical school experience.
My mom passed away my freshman year, and I thought it was over. But in the last two years I've seen my growth and realize it’s not over yet. The best advice I can give is to embrace uncertainty and go for the ride.
Can you tell me about “She Is The Music”?
I am the college ambassador for “She is the Music,” which is a nonprofit founded by Alicia Keys and other incredible women from the music industry. Susan Dodes, a professor with NYU’s Music Business Program, serves as the global co-chair of the foundation.
We planned a day dedicated to women in music known as STIM DAY (She is the Music Day) on Little Island. The New York Chapter Committee of "She is the Music" helped us turn it into a reality. Chelsea Cutler performed, and we were able to share a video by King Princess. There was also a panel discussion made up of amazing women who are breaking barriers in the music industry.
What are you thinking about post-graduation?
I've had people reaching out to me who are interested in hiring me as their intern or employee. I am considering continuing my graduate education at NYU in the Music Technology Program.
Ideally, I’d like to work for Spotify. I’m also interested in working as a recording engineer. I have many options and feel I could go anywhere and succeed in the field.
Do you have anything else you want to say about your journey?
I started my freshman year online during Covid. My mom passed away at the end of the year. I don’t know if it was these circumstances, but I found the drive to push through and take risks. I’m in awe of the people in my program who have stepped up to support me. I hope that one day I can contribute to the program and do the same for students.