Eric Alper has been named to Billboard Magazine, Paste Magazine and The National Post’s best on social media, and is part of the Canadian Music Week’s Advisory Board and The City of Toronto’s Music Industry Advisory Council. He also the host of @ThatEric Alper’s Show on SiriusXM, Channel 167! He recently took time out of his very busy schedule to answer a few questions, which you can read below.
I noticed recently you have been having “Twitter Parties” to talk about Wayhome and the Divergent series. Where did you come up with the idea for these Twitter parties?
When twitter first started the buzzword was “engagement” people should be talking all the time and I took a different approach to it, because it just got too busy. The twitter party was a great idea to reach all of the followers and potentially get new followers, especially around the subject of concerts or bands. In doing these twitter parties it kind of broadened what a local festival might be able to do.
All music festivals and all these bands are now competing against each other, no matter where they are or what kind of music they play. They are all competing for the same eyeballs and ears as everybody else out there. They were a great way to have a non stop hour to talk about the subject, and also talk about the fun things the music festival or the artist is doing and broaden out a little bit.
Reinforcement that this festival has to do with music, its going to create memories. Twitter has enabled me to do really great things.
What sparked your interest in music and writing about it?
My grandfather has a bar in Toronto, Grossman’s Tavern on Spadina. It’s one of the city’s longest running live music venues and I grew up with music always playing in the house. I could never play an instrument and I still can’t.
When I was at University, I worked at the newspaper and the radio station and it wasn’t until 1995, that I took a job at a small label, which lead me to a distribution company called Koch and then they got bought out by E1 and I’ve been here ever since.
One mistake that you made in your journey? How have you learnt from them?
When I got into the industry, there was really no separation from your home and family life. People started getting divorces and started having problems at home, and I never wanted that to happen to me. I just wanted to make sure that I knew when to shut off my work life and make time for my family.
I have a wife that completely understands social media and a daughter who is knee deep in it. Social media has allowed us to do things that we would normally not be able to do, like travel and meet some fascinating people and go on some amazing trips because of it. All of this was because of this nice blend of work and home life. There really is no separation anymore, in the beginning when social media was really new and completely obsessive to me, it was very easy to shut off what was going on outside of work and that was probably the biggest upheaval I had to do, even though it wasn’t a huge one it was just trying to work on the tools out there without alienating everyone else that was in my life.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Catch up on all the cool TV shows on Netflix that everyone tells me about throughout the year. I never really get a chance to watch them as they happen. My daughter and I love the Toronto Blue Jays, so we got out to see them as much as we can. I’m still a dad to her and I think most dads are to their teenage daughters, trying to figure them out and be a big part of their lives. I go swimming and rollerblading with her, and do all the fun things most families do. Its not really different, because of the opportunities that my family has I don’t think we are your normal average family, that’s for sure
What are some of the amazing things you have experienced, because of your twitter account?
Reaching out to people that I would never have the opportunity to, whether its former managers of bands that I grew up listening to. This week I got to talk and hang out with the former manager of the Rolling Stones and one of the founders of the Bay City Rollers within an hour of each other. That is the amazing thing Twitter has enabled us to do. I get opportunities offered to me all day long but it has to, but there are very few I’ll take. It has to fit in with what I do love.
So we’ve been able to work with amazing companies, like Rogers and Apple. I did a commercial for Rogers and Apple for their “Roam from Home” commercial. I’m actually going out tonight to the Blue Jays game and sitting in the Samsung box and will be talking about the television viewing experience and how it has changed. I love that kind of stuff. It’s never gimme gimme gimme, I don’t want for anything, if I can illuminate and reveal information about what some cool companies are doing and I can relate it back to my life in a positive way, then yeah absolutely sign me up.
Do you have a favourite restaurant or bar in Toronto?
Right now there is a place called Rancho Relaxo, it used to be on College street but it is now in the Junction. It was one of the very first places that I used to eat when I started going out to clubs and seeing bands. They’ve got the Mexican food in the city and they make it gluten free! I’m happy to go there when I have the opportunity.
What is one thing readers would be surprised to hear about you?
I’m Hearing impaired, I wear hearing aids in both ears. I lost about 70% of my hearing when I was a kid seeing a couple of concerts. Ever since then I’ve been a big advocate for hearing protection, especially in families. I’ve started my own foundation with my audiologist, which you can learn more about at http://uhac.net/About
We do a fun fest every year to help raise money for kids and families who can’t afford hearing aids. That’s probably the best thing I get to do in the music industry, but I would certainly continue to do it, even if I wasn’t in the music industry. But to be able to work in the music industry and have hearing aids, is something like having a blind umpire in a baseball league, it’s something that never really happens. I was always enthusiastic and never really allowed the word “No” to be in my vocabulary, so I just wanted to do what I loved to do whether I wore hearing aids or not.
Any upcoming food or music festivals in Toronto you are excited on attending?
Toronto is so blessed to have an absolute culture pot of music and entertainment, where every single kind of music can be heard in at any given night in the city. But I got to go just a little outside of the city a little bit, Boots and Hearts and the Wayhome festival. What they’ve been able to do just north of the city is amazing and completely revolutionized the way are heard, seen, and attended too. They are absolutely top-notch professionals and they know exactly what the audience is looking for. Where it is multidimensional and about art and culture, and bringing those local artists to the forefront. Also festivals like Field Trip and the downtown Jazz festival, I love going to as well. You really get to see so many people just enjoying the music, right in the heart of the city.
Lastly, if you could only eat one meal and listen to one song for the rest of your life what would they be and why?
Spaghetti, I can eat spaghetti for breakfast, lunch and dinner, 7 days a week. If you want to win my heart, spaghetti is the way to go. I’m going to pick Abacab by Genesis and I’ll never get bored of it.