Marlene Tsuchii’s impact is obvious from the loyalty of established clients she’s worked with for over 20 years, like Foo Fighters and Beck, to the successes of rising stars like Maggie Rogers and the innovative projects she’s spearheaded.
“All the things I’m looking forward to are a little bit different from the norm, trying to challenge the public and ourselves to think differently,” Tsuchii says, including events like fashion summit Beautycon and Club Media Fest targeting the Hispanic demographic. “People at some point get tired of spending lots of money on concerts. You want to give value for money, artistically and financially.”
Tsuchii – who along with comedy agent Nick Nuciforo, then also at CAA, helped to expand global touring by being the first to send comedians abroad, in 2006 with Russell Peters – is inspired to continue innovating by working with artists on curated events like Gorillaz’s Demon Dayz festival, as well as non-traditional events.
“I realized when [Gorillaz’s Damon Albarn] brought it up that this is the sort of thing that artists are looking for – another way to express themselves … And it doesn’t have to be a festival,” says Tsuchii, who also books acts domestically and serves as CAA’s co-head of international touring. “I work with Christine and the Queens, for example, who’s talking about creating a theatrical work, a little bit more in the Broadway vein.”
Passion for the music and the artists keeps Tsuchii going, who recalls seeing Phoenix headline Coachella in 2013 after years of watching the band struggle in clubs. “I felt like they were my children and they had graduated from college or something;
I literally cried,” she says. “Those moments of watching an artist work so hard and seeing it finally happen, it doesn’t matter how long I’ve done this, it’s amazing.”
Best/worst career advice?
Part of this business is about personalities, each person is obviously so different in the way they conduct business and the way they discover music … Some of my former bosses felt i wasn’t loud enough or aggressive enough or mean enough, and, you know, that wasn’t who I was. I think i’m a lot meaner (laughs) at the time that’s not how I conducted business and that’s not how I found bands.
A lot of times honey works a lot better or however the saying goes. You don’t have to be abusive with everyone, you don’t have to scream at everyone, sometimes that’s necessary but they always tried to pigeonhole people or say everybody’s got to be like this, or everyone’s got to be a jerk to get ahead or be aggressive.
You can be aggressive in a quiet way, everyone has their own approach and I think that’s the beauty of it. If you accomplish the same thing and get the same result, who cares how you got there, whether you were a complete asshole or you were a diplomatic person and got it done another way.
If I had listened to those people and tried to be someone I wasn’t I probably wouldn’t be here now, I couldn’t have survived because that’s not who I am. I try to remember that, even when we’re hiring people here, everybody’s different and you have to celebrate that difference, and not try to squash it out of people.
Show that changed your life?
I fell into this, i was always a huge music lover and I always knew somehow i would be in the music business, although I didn’t know how the job would look like. I’m classically trained [as a pianist], that’s what I did for years. I was working in the summer at Reebok and we paid for the Amnesty International tour back then, it involved Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman. It was an incredible tour that went around the world. I went on that tour, on a 747 with those artists, and i met someone with TriAd artists at the time and that’s how I got a job as an assistant, we got bought eventually by William Morris. And that’s how I became an agent. That ‘s my story of how I somehow got here
I guess in a way that did change my life. … You’re sitting on these shows in India and Argentina and all these fabulous places and, you’re watching how it resonated with all people, obviously all the proceeds went to Amnesty international and all of that work. It was definitely one of the highlights of my life. … All of those [events] that serve a bigger purpose like Global Citizen.
I was involved with OneLove thing because I work with Ariana Grande, so was Allison [McGregor-Locker at CAA] and Rob Light, it was such an amazing, cathartic moment for all of us after the terrible tragedy and so much sadness, to watch Ari rise to the occasion, and all those artists participating — talk about bone chilling to have all those people in that Cricket Grounds trying to celebrate after something so terrible. Those are the moments when this job is a little bit more than just putting on concerts. It doesn’t very happen but those moments are super special.