Sydney-raised Musician/Entrepreneur Eric Fortaleza Dreams Big & Now Aims to Expand his Brand
“I feel that to be a successful and thriving musician you need to be able to tackle different aspects of the business. Playing and performing well can only get you so far. But, being able to understand how the cogs turn and how it all runs is equally as important. So now while I play bass and perform, I also book venues, run events, host shows and manage artists. I know, right?! But, I made these factors part of everything I offer as a musician because it makes you a more valuable member of any team and it has helped me grow my brand.” — Award-winning and multifaceted musician, Eric Fortaleza
Check. It. Out.
In his almost 10-year professional and diverse music career, high-flying Eric Fortaleza has performed over 500 gigs ranging from festivals, concerts, television performances, recording sessions and many more. From the business side, he’s managed over a thousand performances all around Australia, booking artists, bands, choirs and live entertainment.
Coming up, Fortaleza is going on a 2019 Tour with Australian artist Ricki Lee, and recording upcoming singles and performing shows with Sony artist Jess & Matt. He’s also thrilled to be recording his own EP, featuring some original songs. But, along his jam-packed career path, he’s collaborated with some of his country’s and the world’s highest class of musicians, including managing artist Glenn Lumanta, who performed for Stevie Wonder’s 2017 Christmas Benefit Concert.
But Fortaleza, with typical Aussie derring-do, is only just beginning.
As he insightfully explains:
“Seeing that Glenn Lumanta story unfold opened my eyes and made me hungrier to chase my dreams. I want to play music for bigger artists, I want to play with world-class musicians, and I know I have the skill sets to be able to do it. To me, music is about sharing your story. I’ve seen a lot of musicians and artists start off with that mindset, and then get led astray. We can lose focus on why we pursued music in the first place by chasing numbers, views, likes. I’m here for the long haul, to tell my unique story.”
It could’ve all turned out so differently, as Fortaleza was set to study medicine at University but he dropped out the first month of his course and transferred over to music. Fortunately, the day he told his parents he wanted to change it up, he was given the biggest words of encouragement…ever — “Just make sure you are doing what you love.” He ended up getting a Bachelor of Popular Music & Performance degree, instead.
So, guess who Fortaleza owes his enthusiastic ambition and hard-earned drive to? He fesses up:
“I owe everything to my mother. She always loves grooving to music, so I grew up listening to the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Simon & Garfunkel and Elvis, which isn’t a bad way to make sure my musical foundations were strong. My mother dabbled on guitar, but I was the first in my family to pursue performing.”
So, what musicians was he influenced by? He gets on a roll: “There were a multitude of different influences that started off my journey. It was Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers that made me want to pick up the bass. It was John Mayer that made me want to play love songs. It was the Beatles that made me want to write songs that last forever. Then, John Mayer’s 2006 album ‘Continuum’ set me on the path of where I am today. I knew I wanted to play for someone who writes beautiful songs like that. I knew I wanted to play for someone who plays guitar like that. I knew I wanted to play like the bass player in that album, Pino Palladino.”
And, now he’s here, waiting to take the next step with a lot of confidence behind him. For example, he has artist endorsement relationships with some of the biggest and best musical manufacturers, including Fender Musical Instruments, Aguilar Amplification, MONO Creators, Jim Dunlop Strings, and, 64 Audio.
As a result, he explains:
“Being endorsed by the best brands in the world is something I worked hard towards. You need to be secure with yourself and understand that what you offer as an individual should be world-class. You are offering and representing yourself as a brand. Being able to be endorsed by these world-class companies is both humbling and also an affirmation of my skill and my talents.”
With gratitude and humility keeping him grounded, Fortaleza offers advice to people also wanting to pursue a music career, by suggesting, “A lot of people will project their own personal fears towards you, with comments like, ‘How stable is a music career?’ and “Isn’t it just a hobby?’ or ‘Try to find a secure job first.’ But, you can’t forget why you want to be in this ever-changing business.”
•If you let other people’s fears dictate your decisions in life, then you will live your life for other people.
•The music business is harsh and it’s always moving forward and changing. Be flexible.
•You need to stay strong to the purpose of why you wanted to play music in the first place. When you do, you will attract people who feel the same way you do.
•I tried to make my worth ethic valuable to my community because music is collaborative. So, I pursued a career being a session musician and accompanying others.
•I invested in my peers and my community because being successful alone means nothing. Being successful as a community creates an impact.
So, the “long haul” is the overall objective, as Fortaleza gears up for an increasingly busy year head, adding: “By expanding my horizons, I’m trying to connect myself with music that will engage for generations. It’s a very hard balance to pursue, but it should never end. You can impress someone for 30 seconds, but investing in music that transcends our instantaneous social media culture is what’s going to last forever.”