Passion for Promotion / Advocate for Artists
By Rachel Montoya
The term ‘desert’ is frequently used to describe anything coming from the Coachella Valley. The collaborative known as Desert Music is no different. Led by Noe Gutierrez, a 45 year resident of Indio, California, the union of key players includes pacesetters like pro photographer Steven Young, mega-producer David Williams of Melrose Music, graphic artist Bobby Taffolla, videographer and director Zak Kupcha of Circulation Media, L3 Lighting Design owner Laine Rinker III and many other craft masters who provide music management, promotion, booking, collaboration, consultation, staging, lighting, graphics, photography and event planning.
An extension of their efforts is the social media group Desert Music Alliance, a collection of over 600 invested souls who agree to be involved in the desert music community and remain positive and purposeful in helping to elevate all music artists and the desert as a whole. Each individual agrees to have a positive impact on the musical landscape of the Coachella Valley and High Desert. They agree to support each other through their willingness and ability. The overall understanding is that we are greater together than apart.
Coachella Valley Weekly sat down with Gutierrez to get a better grasp on his team’s mission.
CVW: What are the primary goals of a music manager?
Gutierrez: “From my perspective, a music manager books live performances, invites labels/media to shows, networks and uses relationships to generate opportunities, negotiates deals when opportunities arise, sends out demos, determines and completes submissions for award shows, helps book studio time and rehearsal sessions, explores funding opportunities, maintains and updates social media and artist websites, facilitates local, national and international radio airplay, facilitates interviews including television, newspaper, online publications, magazines, podcasts and radio, provides advice on all aspects of an artist’s professional life and helps the artist select other members of the ‘team’ such as accountants, lawyers, booking agents and publicists. Easy peasy, right?”
CVW: What are your qualifications as a music manager?
Gutierrez: “I’ve been involved in learning and performing organized music since 1981. I began playing the alto, tenor and baritone saxophone from elementary school through high school and have been singing in several local bands since the early ’00s. That’s over 38 years of experience that has given me an exceptional amount of music knowledge that I can tap into. I’ve been able to develop a skilled ability to listen to music during performance and production and provide constructive feedback to artists. I feel I have a high degree of self-motivation and a strong adherence to remaining positive and encouraging. This business is tough and requires an inordinate amount of resiliency. I kinda developed my own list of duties as a music manager. I’ll attend rehearsals and man the merch table if necessary. I completed a Master’s level writing course that has helped me to draft Letters of Understanding, Management Agreements, working bios on all our artists, press releases and communicate effectively with those in the industry. I do my best to remain artist-focused and provide excellent customer service to my clients and those we correspond with. You have to be an excellent team member and have an ability to communicate clearly. Organizational skills are a necessity. One peculiar thing I do is to develop a working strategic business plan for each artist. It helps us create a launch pad, share a strategy, prioritize and set specific objectives for the artist. When you put something on paper, it takes on a whole new significance.”
CVW: How long have you been involved with managing artists and who are some of the artists you have worked with?
Gutierrez: “Currently, I’m artist manager for Indie rocker Courtney Chambers and have been for five years now. She was my first client. The only other artist I’m managing currently is the Alternative Rock band Empty Seat. In the past, I worked with the wonderful and talented Country Tribal Rock vocalist Kelly Derrickson, Desert Reggae band Mozaiq and Hip-Hop master AL RO$$I. Each of them continue to be leaders in their respective genres. Kelly has won so many awards I lost count. She was the 2015 ‘Best New Artist’ at the Indigenous Music Awards, the 2015 ‘Best Country Artist’ at the Coachella Valley Music Awards, the 2017 Best Female Artist at the Native American Music Awards and the 2018 ‘Best Female Artist’ at the NAMAs. Mozaiq just won the ‘Best Reggae Artist’ award at the 2019 CVMAs and AL RO$$I is consistently in the mix for ‘Best Rap/Hip-Hop Artist’ at the CVMAs. I’m proud of my time with each of them and I’m honored to call them family. I still root for them and do my best to support their careers. One thing I can say is that I continue to be a huge fan of their music.”
CVW: Tell us more about what Courtney Chambers and Empty Seat are up to.
Gutierrez: “It’s been an honor to be on Courtney’s team and she has taught me so much about the industry and about what it takes to be a world-class genuine artist. She was my friend first and we have a great working relationship. Most recently she has been performing with Belinda Carlisle and playing her butt off around town as a solo artist, with her awesome band and with Jasmine Fields. She is currently working on her new album Evolver which will be released by the end of 2020. All I can tell you is the music is inventive and, in my opinion, one step beyond her last full-length album Tales of the Aftermath, my favorite record so far. I’ve been working with Empty Seat for only a few months now and we’ve done a lot in a short time. They won the 2019 CVMA for ‘Best Alternative Band’ and Red won ‘Best Front Woman’. Red and Anthony just played as an acoustic duo and won the 2nd Round of the CV Music Showcase at The Hood. The band recorded their new single, “Won’t Wait,” at Modern Fuzz Recording Studios and are prepping for its release along with a video directed by Zak from Circulation Media. The song should be out very soon. One ‘off the wall’ thing we did before the end of 2019 was record their first Christmas song “Santa Baby” at Melrose Music in Palm Springs and have it played on radio stations around the world.”
CVW: What are some of your favorite achievements in your music career?
Gutierrez: “I hosted a podcast from 2012 to 2015 called 21 Exits. We featured artists from the Coachella Valley and High Desert like Unida, John Garcia, Evaro, Blasting Echo, Alfredo Hernandez, Yip Yops, Giselle Woo & The Night Owls, The Pedestrians, Mikey Reyes, Dali’s Llama, Se7en4, Jimi FITZ, Machin’ and In The Name of the Dead, just to name a few. We covered every possible genre and it took us from Joshua Tree to Thermal. I miss that platform of expression. I’m hoping to rekindle that flame with help from Phil Lacombe and Tracy Dietlin of CV Weekly. I’ve also been nominated for ‘Best Club Promoter’ and ‘Best Event Promoter’ several times at the CVMAs with still no win. I love it though. When I think about being nominated next to professional promoters like BB Ingle, Jimi FITZ and Steve Johns I don’t feel so unlucky. It’s an honor to be included.”
CVW: What are the main objectives of Desert Music?
Gutierrez: “My main objectives are to aid in the development and progression of music artists while facilitating and promoting performances and events in venues across the Coachella Valley and High Desert. I also want to continue to assist in magnifying exposure of the desert music scene on a global scale and working alongside desert luminaries like John Garcia, Ronnie King, Diane Schuur and Joshua Homme and be involved in local charities and organizations that serve desert residents.”
CVW: What kind of advice would you give someone considering music management?
Gutierrez: “What worked for me is to manage an act you’re passionate about. Before I met with Courtney for the first time at The Beer Hunter in La Quinta, I was mesmerized by her music. It spoke to me so I just jumped in. I cut my teeth working with her and helping fulfill her vision. I would say the same with Mozaiq. They just blew me away. Ronnie and I booked them for our first Reggae Residency show in 2014. Before them, I was not very knowledgeable of Reggae music. My experience with Mozaiq gave me a new understanding of Reggae and its roots. I listen to their music at least once a week. You must also be somewhat savvy in business and know how to negotiate on behalf of others and learn to say ‘no’. You have to be organized, willing to be social and develop an assertive attitude. I would recommend you do some homework and read as much as you can from former and active managers. You can also reach out to any artist and ask to be involved either as a street team member or volunteer your time. If you love the music, you can put the time in before you’re compensated. If you know someone who is in the field, connect with them.”
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