Industry Spotlight: Alissa Pollack
At once approachable down to earth, Alissa Pollack is a delight to speak with. We were thrilled to have the chance to catch up with the EVP of Global Music Marketing amidst a busy day that the affable Pollack makes look effortless. The nice guys finish first story begins relatably, with an intended career path shifting organically towards a natural outcome.
“So I got a little side-tracked from law school and ended up as an intern at Z100 and I never left, so I’ve actually been with the company for 24 years. I got my start working with LovePhones, Dr. Judy and Jagger at night at Z100. I have a master’s in health education and counseling, so I was counseling people that either got on air and needed more counseling, or never made it on air but needed counseling. And because I loved music so much, I thought this would be the perfect internship for me while I was getting my master’s in counseling. And then I ended up graduating and then never leaving.” Never leaving has of course been iHeart’s/Mediabase’s boon.
Asked to distill some of the keys to her success, Pollack humbly shares “I would say a couple of things: passion, tenacity, honesty, and loyalty. I’m very passionate and tenacious when I believe in something. You know, whether that’s an artist or if I’m trying to get a deal done, so I can be a little obsessive and I never really stop until I hit whatever goal it is I’m trying to achieve. So, part of that I think is being honest and loyal with your clients and your co-workers and making sure that you’re always telling them what your true intentions are and what you’re trying to achieve and never really being short-sighted in terms of just trying to get something that’s good for you. So, I always really look at everything with a long-term kind of view, so I won’t ever try and convince someone to do something that they don’t believe in. But I also am very honest if I am trying to get somebody to do something for me. I always give them the truth about, you know, why. Overall, I would say the number one thing that’s been part of my success has been the relationships that I’ve been able to build because of that.”
Those stand-bys have remained so, even as the day-to-day changes. As Alissa describes, “No day is ever the same for me because I oversee Mediabase as well as the Global Music Marketing division for iHeart. So on any given day I could be booking an artist to play a private event for Amex and Hilton to launch a new card, or I could be collecting data to help identify a Pepsi sound drop artist, or I’m working on a Mediabase or a BuzzAngle group deal for radio or with a label. So, my days are never really the same. It’s all over the place which is, I think, the part that I really enjoy. I feel like after all these years I’m still very excited to go into work every day, because every day is a new challenge and a new routine.”
Alissa speaks with equal affection about the personal connections that have woven her career’s tapestry. “I’m actually someone who’s motivated by love and when I say that I’ve always been fortunate that I work for and with people that are like family to me and that I really feel blessed to have. So when I do something that I know is a win, not just for myself, but for the whole team that’s something that I actually find really rewarding. Especially when I know it’s something that someone else would have gave up on, you know, a year ago, and I’m still going until I make that happen. I love delivering for the people around me and above me, but also on the artist side I absolutely love them. I’m very passionate about working with new artists, so it’s great when you can see an artist at the very beginning of their career and really help support them and their dreams. And then to be able to see them play at Madison Square Garden or see them win a Grammy. You know, later on, it’s like “Wow.” And while the road to those successes is no doubt paved in nurturing those encountered along the way, it’s paved in persistence from the outset. “I think the one thing is that in this industry all you really have is your word, and I think that making sure you have integrity and you follow through is key, because nothing is more important, in the music business, than your relationships, but also hard work. I think a lot of people get in at the ground floor. I also tell people that come into my office, for years I think I was stapling papers ’till 3 in the morning, and I would walk around just like “Anybody need help?” And I was always offering to do something. I think it’s a business where hard work really does pay off.”
Currently, that hard work is due to culminate in the latest and greatest version of the flagship. “We’re very excited that Mediabase 2.0 is going to start rolling out in the next couple of months, and it’s something we’ve been working on for a long time. You know, I like to joke that Mediabase is the stock ticker of the music industry and it’s such an integral part of our business. It’s really exciting that we’re able to kind of have it evolve into the new version that’s coming out, and I think it’s going to be something that everybody’s going to be excited about, because it’ll help them do their jobs even better than it does now.”
Alongside the aforementioned fruits of labor are those extending far beyond iHeart’s and Mediabase’s walls. For one, Alissa is chair of Taste of Hope. The annual gala dinner and silent auction has raised more than $115 million for City of Hope, benefiting the research and treatment of cancer, diabetes, and other serious diseases. “I think one of the things I’m most known for is my charity work, and so over the years I’ve really been able to incorporate that passion into my actual job, you know, raising money through auctions with artists and things like that or putting together campaigns around artists towards or other things that have helped raise money for charity, and obviously being able to raise money at the same time that I’m actually doing my day job is very rewarding.”
As for how Alissa might spend some rare R&R time (and not the radio and records kind)? “I actually like to joke that I work hard, play hard, and rest hard. I love to travel. My husband and I are at about 36 countries in the last 7 years and 6 continents, so travel is my number one passion, you know, I can’t always do that, and the truth of it is, my life looks very exciting on Facebook, but there’s plenty of Sunday- you know – Saturday, Sunday afternoons where I’m just in my pajamas all day and night, because I need that one day to just absolutely do nothing.”
We think Alissa’s earned it!