Words With Ben Albert
We're excited to present a few words with our good buddy Ben Albert! Ben is a podcaster/entrepreneur known for the Rochester Groovecast podcast, as well as his own marketing company Balbert Marketing. He was kind enough to host an episode featuring the Evil Bubble team, which can be found here. Join us in learning a bit more about the man behind the podcast!
EB: Hi Ben! Thank you for joining us! How have you been?
BA: I’m great. Optimistic. Today was a good day.
EB: We’ve seen that the Rochester Groovecast has hit 100 episodes recently, and it seems that more new things may be in store. What are you going to be working on in the near future?
BA: I ask myself that question all the time, who knows!? 100 more, right? I find there has never been a better time to pay homage to music. Right now, the conversations do feel a bit reminiscent of a time that once was, haha. Still, I am on a daily basis humbled by the creative talent, optimism, and persistence of our great musicians. We’re all ready for more music and the return of the live experience!
EB: Give us a little bit of insight into your life to this point.
BA: Oh wow, starting it off with a boom, huh!? My life is like an orchestra at all times; however, no one can read sheet music, and it’s our first rehearsal. Kidding, of course. I’ve been taking the extra time spent at home to help build the foundation of Rochester Groovecast. I have my own marketing agency, Balbert Marketing, and a second podcast, Rochester Business Connections, so a lot’s on the table. I’m figuring out new ways to cross-promote and bring all my interests together into one brand. It’s a ton of fun, and I’m really excited for a great 2021.
EB: What got you interested in music?
BA: Great question. I don’t know. I didn’t come from a musical background, really. I think my most significant influence was simply not fitting in at school. I was an outcast or outsider, you know. I found people just like me with music. I connected on an emotional level with music.
I love sports. Always have. But, I’ll be honest, in a middle-class suburban school, all those athletic guys and sports fans seemed to look, dress, and act the same. It just was never me. And I always connected with music due to my rebellion from the norm. It would touch me on an emotional level. I truly cherish that.
EB: Do you have interest in creating music as well?
BA: I love playing music,… poorly. I like to leave the public performing to the professionals. I’m actually, out of the blue, working on a reggae-trap album. But shshhh, that isn’t ready to be released yet.
EB: How did you get into podcasting?
BA: Cliché advice we’ve all heard. Find your niche. Do what you love. Do something you’re passionate about.
I LOVED podcasts. And would consume hours of podcasts each week. I loved music! You could find me at a live show more nights than not! It made perfect sense. Let’s start a music podcast in the city that I love, Rochester!
EB: What made you want to start your own podcast?
Eventually, I asked myself. Are you just a consumer? I would consume, consume, consume consume, but I wasn’t always giving back to my community. I wanted to start a Podcast to highlight Rochester’s Culture and give back to the city I love.
EB: Why do you love the Rochester music scene so much?
BA: Our music scene is diverse, affluent, and unique. Look at all the genres of great bands, from reggae to punk, to jam band, to hip hop, to bluegrass, to ska. Look at the plethora of venues housing the best regional musicians and often nationally renowned talent. Look at the audience! You get to know everyone. And our own musicians are the biggest supporters of their peers!
EB: What were some early challenges in getting this podcast off the ground?
BA: The tech side of things is always has a learning curve. You end up investing in shitty or cheaper gear and continue to continually upgrade by buying more. I also wanted an excellent website to house the podcast, which is a challenge. I had to figure out how to properly onboard the podcast onto all major streaming platforms. Everything I’ve done I’ve re-done later on to do it better the next time. In all honestly, Nothing too crazy.
I do find it challenging to promote myself. And to promote my show. I mean, I created the podcast to elevate the talent in my community. It’s easier for me to highlight others; it can be hard to self promote. And I think Facebook doesn’t do much to help me. It's a constant challenge for creators these days. Through time, we’ve gained a ton of momentum and reached 10s of thousands of people! I’m incredibly grateful.
EB: What would you say are the best early episodes of Rochester Groovecast to check out?
BA: In general, I’d say avoid the earliest episodes, aha. I think I did take more risk back than sometimes, though. I enjoy the first-ever episode. It’s jam-packed with raw music and has a real authenticity to it. I spent a lot of time on it. I like episode one for sure. I also like the entire stretch from episode 20 to 30. In episode 27, I chat with Brian Macdonald of the Honey Smugglers. I really enjoyed that. Would love to have him back on the show!
EB: How has your interview process developed along the way?
BA: Simply put, I learned how to actually interview. There were times in the start where maybe I smoked a little too much herb and then just giggled and couldn’t focus half the time. I’ve learned to control the conversation template while staying open-minded to let my guest speak their truth. My job is simple. Ask questions; listen, and then provide exclamation and support on my guest’s assertions and continue to forward the conversation naturally.
EB: What is your ultimate goal for the podcast?
BA: When I started, I wanted to have fun and get into places for free, haha. That was about it! These days, it really is for fun at the core. Also, I’m excited to provide a positive message amid a deadly virus and a political explosion. Just to touch on that. I’m pretty nuanced, and most of my viewpoints land pretty center, like a ton of other reasonable people. So my goal is to ask the right questions, have good conversations, and highlight great people without a direct end-goal or agenda. It’s to live, learn, and have fun!
EB: What kind of elements do you think go into the creation of an interesting podcast?
BA: You want a good intro, outro, some music, or other exciting channels to keep people engaged. But beyond anything...Just being honest with yourself and speaking your truth. Having enjoyable guests that are open-minded to share theirs. It’s essential to understand that not everyone will listen, care, or find it interesting at all. That’s fine. If I and the people involved and our tribe enjoy and find it interesting, I’ll mark it a win!
EB: What’s the process of preparing for one of these interviews like?
BA: I’m fortunate enough to be engulfed in the music community already. Most of my guests I’ve listened too saw live, often met, or crossed paths with many times before. So I go in with some knowledge and stay open-minded to learn more. It’s important to note, I’m not interviewing top 40 musicians who have SUPERFANS who know everything from their auto-biography. So i don’t have to nitpick particular events or try to wow my guests. I have an excellent opportunity to walk in with a beginner’s mindset and just a basic knowledge level. In real-time, slowly reveal the layers as I go. This allows all of us to get to know a soon-to-be-famous musician on a much deeper level than at a bar or outside after a show.
EB: What are some of your influences in podcasting, music, and business?
BA: Podcasting, let’s say Joe Rogan, and I’m not an avid listener. Still, he is definitely “goals” when it comes to making it huge as a podcaster while staying genuinely authentic. For music, I want to shout out Coheed and Cambria; if you’re a fan, you know why. Business, I’m really impressed with a laundry list of business-people sharing their secrets and allowing little-guys like me to learn without repeating all the beginner mistakes.
EB: How has the pandemic changed the way you conduct the podcast?
BA: The pandemic was a blessing in disguise. I had stopped recording the podcast entirely. I had other things on my plate, I had started to lose interest, and it wasn’t a priority of mine at the time. The pandemic, quarantine, and social distancing really pushed me to better connect to people and continue to have positive conversations on music. The city and the whole region still has so much to offer! So I decided to rebirth the podcast by streaming on Zoom and double down on content to make the show the best it’s ever been!
EB: What are some local musicians and bands that you think deserve a shout out?
BA: Now that would be impossible without leaving hundreds out. Check out Rochester Groovecast for some recommendations! And shout out to Flour City Station, one of Rochester’s best venues, for adapting and rolling out Flour City Hots to keep us full and happy until they start blasting some banger concerts again,
EB: Tell us about some of your all-time favorite works of art. This could include music, film, visual art, video games, etc.
BA: Let’s keep it real. There is no better work of art than Mother Earth.
EB: Could you pass on a bit of wisdom to noobs about digital promotion and using social media to promote something?
BA: NETWORKING. You can definitely get the job done, reaching thousands of people with Ads, but it’s going to cost you a ton of money, and you may be in over your head. You need to network yourself and build some noise organically!
Remember, good, quality, wheel thought out content needs to come first. Then you need to network like crazy! Be unbreakably supportive! And encourage others to do the same! You should be DMing people checking in with them all the time! You should be sharing stuff without anyone ever asking! You should be telling people what’s valuable to you and encourage them to do the same for you. Always have conversations. Always uplift and promote. Be mindful that you’re just a piece of the puzzle. All the pieces need to come together to make it all fit. Be a leader in making that reality happen.
EB: Favorite Star Wars film?
BA: I like all the original classics!
thanks for the talk Ben! be sure to dig the podcast, and stay evil...