How Eric Alper, Director of Media Relations and Label Acquisitions for eOne Entertainment Canada found (and dominated!) his niche in music – without an ounce of musical talent.
An excerpt from the EP: 13 of Murdoch Music Podcast, aired Jan 22, 2015.
Tim: Before you worked at eOne, did you work in music? How did that all start?
Eric: I always knew I wanted to do something with music but I had no talent.
I loved reading about artists and why things were happening the way they were, hearing the stories of people getting signed and dropped and learning why some songs were being written and some songs were hits and why other songs weren’t.
I had a subscription to Billboard since I was 11. I read the chart and was obsessive about getting it every week. I knew I had the passion.
I was arts editor at a couple of campus newspapers in University, went to the radio station there, and then the day after I graduated I started my own record label and that led to [starting] a PR firm that I ran for quite a few years… then I got a job at as the PR Director at Koch [Entertainment], which was North America’s largest independent music label. It was later bought by eOne Entertainment and I’ve been working ‘in this’ ever since.
Tim: Can you tell me a little bit more about the PR company you ran?
Eric: When I started my own PR company I had three philosophies. I wanted to work:
3) Cheaper than everyone else that was out there.
I knew I couldn’t compete against everyone else’s experience. I was charging $200 a month where everyone else was charging $1500 a month [for the same services], but I got up earlier and went to bed later than the competition did.
I ended up working with a lot of bars and restaurants because they paid me with food. And that worked out well because every time I took a band there, I didn’t have to pay for food and I looked like a big shot. I loved that. And [at the bars and restaurants] that’s where I’d also meet a lot of my clients.
If I’d do a good job for them, then they’d look at bringing me on to rep their tour, or work their next album, etc.
Tim: Any notable bands come out of that?
Eric: I used to do PR for a record label called “Shoreline Records” and they had three bands. One act is writing in Nashville now, one was the Nylons and the other was a band that nobody had head of at the time… and they were called “Nickleback.”
Tim: Oh my God – how was it to work with them?
Eric: Nickelback was actually amazing to work with because their mom was working the radio for them. She was called “Mama Nickelback,” and she would call up the radio stations asking if they would play her son’s band, which was really cool!
Tim: That’s pretty awesome. Especially that you were able to work with these groups before they became big time.
Eric: Absolutely, but I purposefully worked with small bands because I knew I needed to make mistakes, but I didn’t want to screw up somebody’s life. So I knew I wasn’t going to be able to work with bigger bands unless I just shut my mouth and worked really, really hard. I had to read everything I could, I had to meet everyone I possibly could, and go to those conferences and seminars and not walk around like I knew what I was doing – because I didn’t. I had inkling and a philosophy.