BY: MICHELLE PEREZ-VEGA
Mark Alexander-Erber is a walking and talking enigma. To enter into his world, even if it’s just for 45-minutes, is a license to view the mind of a man that is hell-bent on making Golden Robot Global Entertainment succeed to the greatest of his ability.
With a motto of “Live your life your own way,” the founder and president of said entity has done just that and rocked some major headlines along the way. But at the end of the day, it’s always been just about the music.
Sitting in his office surrounded by various and impressive music memorabilia, Alexander-Erber is relaxed and casual; open to questions and readily giving honest and sincere answers. But make no mistake that he has a business to run: during the interview, he is pressed to reply to various and urgent text messages and phone calls that can’t wait, albeit with humble apologies.
The man has more than a dozen international record labels and 370 artists under his tutelage. When you throw in several social justice causes and also marketing a new brand of tequila, you can’t find fault with him in the slightest. You’re just simply amazed that he is finding the time to let you into his orbit.
“I’m turning the ringer off now, putting it down now,” he said, “wait…right after this..text..hold on..”
IN THE BEGINNING
The story of Alexander-Erber and the creation of Golden Robot Records are well-known. Already a successful business entrepreneur, forming a record label would seem a risky venture in this day and age. But the Australian, now in his early 50’s, took the task head-on.
“I don’t have a music background other than the fact that I dabbled in playing in a few bands when I was younger,” he began. “And I wasn’t very good, not at all! But I’ve always loved my music. Music was the cornerstone of everything that I did. When my parents got divorced in 1980, Back In Black by AC/DC got me through. And to me, everything starts and ends with Led Zeppelin; I’m a massive Zeppelin fan.”
The story weaves in Alexander-Erber’s son, Jagger, a prolific wunderkind drummer who appeared on Australia’s version of “Britain’s Got Talent” television show in 2012 when he was nine-years-old. Jagger entranced judges and the audience alike with his prowess, finishing second place overall.
“When he came out of the show, I thought, well, what do I do with this kid? I didn’t want him to be a novelty,” Alexander-Erber remembered. “So we decided to put him with a couple of older musicians that had success in Australia. And they made this incredible rock album, The Orbitor, and called the band Moon. This was like, 2015; I went and shopped that around, and no one was interested.”
Alexander-Erber ended up officially releasing The Orbitor himself in 2016. And he gave each member of the project a little golden robot as a present.
Golden Robot Records was soon born.
Alexander-Erber started signing Australian bands to the newly-formed label, such as Rose Tattoo and The Superjesus.
“I signed these really cool bands that had some success already in Australia, but were sort of forgotten about, if that makes sense,” Alexander-Erber said. “I then signed another 10-15 bands, some up-and-coming bands, and got a real taste for it. I was eventually put through to a couple of business executives in America, and we just went really hard at America, putting some fantastic distribution places in Europe, PR marketing teams all around the world.”
With the growth of the company, Alexander-Erber then started going after what he termed as “more expensive bands.”
“I had the setup to attract them now,” he said. “We did make mistakes in the early days, 100 percent where were under-capitalized. We were making it up as we were going on. But that’s what it’s like in the early days of any business. The first two years were pretty tumultuous, but by 2018, we were finding our course. Since then, I’ve just stuck to it and kept going.”
“Twelve labels and 370 bands later,” Alexander-Erber said with a grin. “Going international was what I wanted to do. We’re truly an international label and it’s a very large rock ‘n’ roll family. It’s very exciting.”
ROCK AIN’T DEAD
The infamous Gene Simmons, bassist for KISS, set off a firestorm in 2014 when he announced in an interview with Esquire magazine that “Rock is finally dead.”
Alexander-Erber fervently disagreed with that assessment. Rock is only not dead; it’s not even on life support.
“Pop and Hip-Hop may be topping the charts now,” he observed, “And rock has sort of taken a back seat. But rock is pushing its way back to the forefront. Rock ‘n’ roll is the heartbeat of what we are, and that’s what people need at this moment. Rock ‘n’ roll is the savior of your own mental health to me.”
“I can only watch so many episodes of ‘Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,’ right?” Alexander-Erber joked. “I’m sitting here, having a day. I’m a car guy. I jump into my ’77 Trans Am and put Zeppelin on, driving along. And then things get better. It changes me, my outlook and perspective. So to me, it’s about taking music to the world.”
Alexander-Erber said it’s a source of pride when people tell him that music from his label helped them during some pretty dark times.
“Golden Robot stands for unity,” he stated. “It’s rock ‘n’ roll. It stands for something that is really cool. I feel just so blessed that’s happened and I created that. We started this with good intentions, and it was authentic and genuine. It’s about taking music to the world. I get emails from people saying, ‘I found myself in a really dark place. If it wasn’t for this or that album, I don’t think I’d be here today.’ Do you know what it means to hear something like that?! I just feel really honored to be in this position.”
Alexander-Erber is definitely on a rock ‘n’ roll mission and he is willing to talk to anyone and everyone to get Golden Robot to the forefront in the minds of music fans.
“I feel very strongly that I need to bring this back into the world,” he said. “COVID especially has taken away the personal touch; the handshakes, the hugs, the personal interaction. Everything is on Zoom. Nothing is old school anymore. I don’t care if I talk to a publication that has 10 followers or 20,000. I will connect with them if even one person becomes a fan of what I am trying to do.”
NOT JUST ANY BAND
Not just any band can be signed to Golden Robot Records – it takes a lot more than talent. There has to be something authentic and genuine for Alexander-Erber to even take notice. The Golden Robot Maven has an eye for talent and for making a band stand out and be heard, giving them another chance in an unforgiving industry that chews and spits out musical entities by the dozen on a regular basis.
Alexander-Erber is his bands’ biggest cheerleader. Once Alexander-Erber decides you are going to make it, you will. Take Dangereens from Montreal, Canada, a band that is currently on Alexander-Erber’s roster.
“They are an absolutely brilliant band,” Alexander-Erber said. “This is a band that could be huge! They had an album out but no one was really listening to it. So I told them, let’s pull it down and start over again. They were on board with it, ‘Yes, we want to do it. No problem,’ they said.”
Alexander-Erber and his team met via Zoom for hours with the band members, talking about strategies and the upward trajectory he envisioned for Dangereens. He also enlisted a “fantastic team of passionate and incredible PR and marketing people that really brainstormed,” yielding results.
“We re-released the single, ‘Streets of Doom,’” Alexander-Erber said, “and they went from being a band that streamed just 2,000 for the whole entire album to almost 7,000 for just that single on Spotify. They went from like 700 followers to more than 3,000 monthly listeners. The band is ready to release another single, ‘Thieves’ and is on its way. I expect even more great things from them.”
When asked why Golden Robot is growing exponentially compared to similar labels, Alexander-Erber paused before answering.
“I have to be honest with you,” he said. “I don’t really look at other labels. I mean, I hear horror stories now and then. But if you ask me what the difference is…other labels have industry veterans running them and they’re burnt out,” Alexander-Erber continued. “They’re just jaded. I’m an entrepreneur. I wake up every day like, ‘Let’s go!’ I’m excited, I love what I do. I want that enthusiasm to rub off on our artists, and that they feel the love and feel supported. While I don’t think I’m competing with another label, you don’t see other CEOs doing podcasts, videos, and the like. I do so much different stuff that I really don’t have the time to notice what other labels are doing!”
Stay tuned for Part II of our exclusive interview with Mark Alexander-Erber.