The militant music company behind Pomona’s upcoming No Earbuds Festival – Daily Bulletin

Jamie Coletta, founder of No Earbuds, a public relations and music consulting firm, celebrates his fifth anniversary on Saturday, June 15, with a festival at the Glass House and The Haven in Pomona. (Photo by Erica Lauren)

In Southern California, music festivals are practically as ubiquitous as pool parties, but there's also a growing interest in niche indie festivals, and Jamie Coletta is eager to fill that gap.

Coletta, the founder of music PR and consulting firm No Earbuds, always dreamed of being a hype woman for musicians. She studied music business at the University of Hartford in West Hartford, Connecticut. After graduating, she worked in public relations for major music labels, including RCA Records, which is owned by Sony Music Entertainment. Coletta eventually landed at Sideonedummy Records, an independent label in Beverly Hills, where she helped musicians advance their careers. But in 2018, after nearly a decade in her dream role, Coletta was blindsided: She and the rest of the indie label were laid off.

“When it was all over, I was at a crossroads. Other record companies offered me to work for them, and they had really cool bands that I felt much more connected to my interests than the big [firms] I did, but I decided to go a different route,” Coletta said recently during a Zoom call.

Ultimately, she decided to go solo, trusting that she knew the industry well enough to prioritize her passion for the art. With a DIY attitude, Coletta started her own company, No Earbuds, based in Northeast Los Angeles, where she hopes to showcase the latest emerging talent from bands and solo artists from across the country.

To mark the company's fifth anniversary, she organized the No Earbuds Festival at the Glass House and The Haven in Pomona, which took place at both venues on Saturday, June 15, and included performances by Glass Beach, Pools Kids, Teens in Trouble, Talker and others.

“I wanted to emulate the energy of all the festivals I love, where you're running from venue to venue to see different sets,” Coletta said. “That's also why I love South by Southwest. There are different day parties where you can chill all day. The Haven and the Glass House are less than a two-minute walk from each other. You don't even have to cross the street, so it's very convenient and intimate.”

Coletta's parents were not musically inclined and her musical upbringing consisted mainly of top radio hits. It wasn't until high school that she discovered the emo and pop punk music of Warped Tour, which led her down the rabbit hole of alternative and indie music.

After college, she helped mainstream labels with their PR and built the careers of clients like Jeff Rosenstock, PUP, Microwave, and Bartees Strange. While it was rewarding, it also had its pitfalls. Sometimes she worked with genres that weren't her personal taste. Even when she moved to a more independent label where she had more freedom to work with her preferred artists, it still wasn't quite what she had hoped for. Now that she runs No Earbuds, she has more autonomy.

“It's my taste and anything that has my name on it, I want to hear it. It makes me feel something and if it doesn't make me feel something then I say no and that's the coolest thing ever,” said Coletta.

At No Earbuds, she offers a mix of pop punk, indie rock and emo acts, including PR campaigns, consulting and content strategy. The artists Coletta represents are at different stages of their careers, including more established bands like The Wonder Years and Balance and Composure. For the newer acts looking to launch their careers, Coletta wants to offer something that doesn't feel so commercial and is more focused on the music.

“I want to warn them that it will be harder, but it will feel better,” she said. “You will be able to sleep at night knowing that you are leaving something more impactful behind.”

One of Coletta's goals with No Earbuds Fest was to show the musicians who trusted her that they deserve to be in the public spotlight – an aspect that is sometimes lost at larger festivals like the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival.

“I keep seeing bands get opportunities to play big festivals, but then they get pigeonholed or shoved into the 1pm slot on Friday at Coachella and nobody cares or watches. I want to create a better space for artists of color, queer, nonbinary and transgender to headline,” she said, adding that she wants to show the corporate world that they, too, can create their own universe.

Coletta also took great care in selecting the venues for the festival, as she wanted to keep the spirit of the event as independent as possible and make it accessible to audiences of all ages. She wanted to prove to herself and everyone else that independent venues and music have the potential to stand out in the oversaturated festival markets in Southern California and other states.

She hopes to show the musicians under her wing and the rest of the music festival world that there is potential for a place where an independent experience is viable enough to attract big festival crowds and perhaps take that feeling to other parts of the country. Of course, that is not without its challenges.

“The hardest thing about going up against Goliath is that you don't have the Goliath budget to fund what you need to do, so you have to get creative and grind through it,” she said. “We only have major events or garage DIY style shows, but we don't have an evolving hub. I'm only in year one, but I have a vision. I see it growing, and so far there's nothing like it in Southern California.”

No earphone party

Where: The Glass House, 200 W 2nd St., Pomona and The Haven Pomona, 296 W 2nd St, Pomona.

When: 2 p.m., Saturday, June 15th.

Tickets: $47.80 at One ticket gets you into both venues.