In an effort to further establish its presence in Los Angeles, unify its bicoastal offices, and signify its growth in the US, multi-award-winning global music agency Pickle Music has hired Grammy-nominated singer, producer, and musician James Zavaleta as Managing Director/Executive Producer.
With over 20 years in the music and film business, he most recently served as Executive Producer for the multicultural market at Butter Music. He has led advertising projects for a host of premium brands, including Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, TikTok, Corona, Oreo, and TurboTax, Zavaleta brings a wealth of experience to Pickle. Throughout his career, the thread that binds Zavaleta’s work has been his unwavering passion for music, which the Southern California native developed early on playing percussion at the age of 5 before he picked up piano, then evolved into producing urban tracks before eventually discovering his true love: singing. “I began performing professionally at around 15, which led to backing up some of the most prominent latin artists (Camila Cabello, Oscar de Leon, Jerry Rivera, Tito Nieves, Victor Manuelle, etc),” Zavaleta recalls. “In the last decade, I’ve focused on working more in TV and film, being both behind and in front of the camera.”
Having honed his vocal and musical talents since before he was voting age, Zavaleta has since been able to showcase his expertise across mediums and on both sides of the camera, from working on Dancing With the Stars, to producing tracks for spots like “California Milk” via Deutsch LA and executive producing a Metro PCS/T-mobile campaign featuring Luis Fonsi (“Despacito”) via Saatchi & Saatchi Seattle, to regularly serving as vocalist for the past seven years for the Spanish Pepto-Bismol and Charmin brands. However, according to the music vet, his proudest career achievement is undoubtedly performing in his first-ever Disney film: the smash hit Coco. “I was able to voice a few background characters,” Zavaleta reveals. “[I] also got to work directly with composers Germaine Franco (DOPE, Encanto) and the amazing Michael Giacchino. Their commitment to bringing in authentic, expert talent was something that really stuck with me.”
Now that he’s worked in major productions across TV, film, and advertising, Zavaleta hopes his varied experiences will inform his new role and successfully translate at Pickle. “When you work in high-profile productions like DWTS, Coco, Encanto (or an ad), the room for error is very small, and the attention to detail is very big,” he says. “Understanding and utilizing both the creative process and also the obsession with the craft of getting things over the finish line is a strength that I’ll apply here as a Managing Director/EP.”
For Zavaleta, the timing was ideal to take on this new role at Pickle Music, an agency that attracted him for several reasons — in particular, its emphasis on multiculturalism. “I felt it was the right time to join Pickle because of how the market has been shifting these last couple of years, moving to a more authentic and diverse industry,” he explains. “I was also attracted by the amount of their award-winning work, led by Alexis Estiz. The fact that Pickle is a certified minority-owned business was another big factor when making the decision.”
In his MD/EP position at Pickle, Zavaleta’s immediate priority is to establish the agency’s LA presence and studio. But looking long-term, however, he aims to continue making award-winning music, have a bigger impact in general marketing campaigns, and help Pickle gain traction and work on campaigns and trailers in exploding industries like Esports.
According to Pickle Music Founder/CCO Alexis Estiz, Zavaleta’s joining reinforces the agency’s continued commitment to working with the best people and minds in the industry. “As we are about to open our new studio in LA, nothing better than counting [on] James to lead the office,” he says. “He’s not only an amazing musician, that for an EP is something you can be sure elevates any process. But also, he shares the same passion and core values of what we have here at Pickle — the obsession with craft and creativity within music production.”
Estiz adds that Zavaleta’s arrival also reflects Pickle’s continued growth, solidifies its US operations, and accentuates its mission. ”We’re truly a diverse team. And we believe that in order to understand the market and provide expert music solutions, we need to continue to be aligned with multiculturalism, exactly what the US market is right now. James’ addition to the team brings authenticity, knowledge, and experience in the General Market.”