Noelle Chesnut Whitmore started her career as an artist in the music industry around 17 years ago. She got involved in live music at a very young age. She was only 19 when she organized her first concert, including Trey Songz, Drake, YG, and Miguel. Back in the day, Noelle pursued a degree in Music Business at California State University and organized the concert with her cousin Jordan and close friends. Can you imagine? After that, Noelle has worked for heavy names in the music industry, The Recording Academy and Goldenvoice, to name a few. Noelle is also a unique factor behind Clubhouse’s Lion King musical.
The most fascinating is that Noelle is sharing her knowledge, using all of her confidence and experience, to educate and influence this generation and the next through her organization: More In Music.
“I would love to have More In Music, in other countries. I know the music industry in the USA is a bit different from other countries. Each state has a different operating system, but I would love to see More In Music in different countries.”
And it doesn’t end there. Noelle’s marketing skillset, artist relations, and event production led her to achieve the position of CMO for Geojam, a tech startup with excellent opportunities for music fans and emerging artists! Noelle has power. That’s why we connected with her to learn more and draw inspiration from this highly driven woman.
You had been involved in live music for 12 years. Why did you decide to move on from live music to CMO of Geojam?
Noelle: I produced my first concert 12 years ago in 2009. It was time for me to grow and learn new things, and, with us being on leave, it assisted the process.
I thought about my next move, and I was already opting to move outside of the live space but also considered other options in mind. I was interested in tech, Amazon, and Apple and going to go work for them. When I ended up getting furloughed, I ended up being able to spend a lot of time reflecting on the things that I wanted. I had not been able to do that in a very long time. To pause and think: What do I want to do in this season of my life? I still love events, and it’s still in my DNA; when I try to run away from it, I always come back.
I was interested in operating in a more 9 to 5 function and learning and expanding my skillset into new industries. Moving to the tech space at Geojam was one of those opportunities that looked cool and still had live components. I realized that as much as I tried to close that chapter, it would never be fully closed because it is just part of who I am. Even with my organization More In Music, I like to produce events that bring people together. It brings me joy to see other people happy.
Looking back, what’s the number one thing you are most proud of in your career?
Noelle: I’m sometimes still blown away by the Sunday Service ( Kanye West’s Coachella 2019) thing. That was my first opportunity, within an organization, to see something that was an idea come to life on such a big scale. I had a big hand in helping to coordinate the event and logistically make something happen that quickly.
Earlier in my career, I did my first two concerts. My first concert at 19 was with Drake, Trey Songz and a bunch of other people. Drake and Trey Songz were about to blow up. I wanted to be an A&R, and although I wasn’t a full A&R, I laugh at myself now. Just look where Drake is now. Look where Miguel is now. They were all in that show. I am very excited that I got to experience the rise of all of them. I know I had a tiny piece in that journey of where they are now, but this is something I am very proud of. Though we lost a bunch of money, that was one of the most rewarding experiences—the discovery of finding what I wanted to do for the rest of my life in some capacity.
Are there special moments backstage that you can share?
Noelle: I don’t usually get starstruck. During Beyonce’s Coachella, I worked mainstage when Pharrell Williams walked by, “Omg, it’s him, Pharrel is walking right here”. Inside, I was freaking out. I love Pharrel. He is one of my biggest inspirations in the music industry.
And the second was Jay-Z, that was one of those moments, I was like, “That’s him! Right next to me”. I had never seen him that close before. Those are my memorable moments, seeing Pharrel and Jay-Z walk past me to watch this iconic performance that was going to take place. Because I was working, I didn’t get to see Beychella really until the film came out.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Noelle: Just be yourself! The best thing to do is give yourself peace and joy and understand that you cannot please everyone. Make sure that every night and every day, you take care of yourself and make sure that you offer grace to people. We are not perfect, be yourself and take ownership of who you are.
Why should we use Geojam?
Noelle: There are not many platforms like Geojam; they don’t offer the same
type of experiences that we do. We provide one of a kind experiences, and music is the connector. People can share events, comment and connect. We offer rewards for what people do for free on other platforms, like going on a private jet with 24kGolden. And you have to listen, comment and share.
What about More In Music?
Noelle: More In Music is the organization that I started in 2019, in the spirit of trying to share information and making sure this industry is a bit more accessible to all, especially to communities of color and communities that don’t have access to information as easily as others. We have been hosting panels in LA, and after the pandemic, we moved digitally to ClubHouse. We are looking to expand and podcast. We have some excellent collaborations. I am very concerned about the kids, and I’m excited about getting in front of them. With the decline of the art programs, these kids are not being exposed to it. More In Music will, fortunately, be a platform of discovery.
If you could change anything in the music business, what would it be?
Noelle: I would change the nature of the business to allow anyone to be successful and financially successful. I think some people need to share more. Be empathetic. We all have to start somewhere. We all started in this business because someone gave us an opportunity. There are enough resources and enough money in the industry to allow everyone to be content and okay. One thing I try to do daily is never to forget where I came from. All of this can be taken away from me. I am very grateful for living my dream.
Do you have any advice for people wanting to join the music industry?
Noelle: Do some research. Figure out what you want to do, whether being an artist, an A&R, or a sound engineer. Identify what you are interested in, whatever it is, research the companies that hire people, how people operate in the business, and then connect directly with people who will share information. If you are a musician and send me your song, I cannot do much with it. When I was young, my father made me read ‘All you need to know about the music business’, this is a good start because it dives into several aspects of the business.
You can google and look for internships. This is a job, we have a lot of work, long hours, and some people want to do it just for the facade. I feel like people don’t have a complete understanding of what this business is about. So, do your homework and once you realize what you want, go after it.
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