We had the good fortune of connecting with Alaina Thetford and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alaina, what principle do you value most?
Strength of character. The entertainment business is rife with underhandedness and questionable ethics. Always has been. And sure, there are plenty of people who operate that way and achieve their goals. I always say that I have to be able to sleep with myself at night. I have to be able to lay my head to rest at the end of each day and be good with the way I acted, the things I said, how I treated other people, the things I asked other people to do. I expect a certain level of operating from myself, and I expect it from my colleagues, the clients that I work with, the companies I align myself with.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I own a talent management company, Train Case Management, that I started, in it’s earliest stages, in mid-2010 at the time of leaving my record label job. I was providing management services for some of the label clients. I was always praised for the work that I did, but I had no say over who my clients were nor the type of entertainment they participated in. I actually got my start working in stand-up comedy of all things. After venturing out on my own at the insistence of my record label boss, I’ve worked in most genres, from singer-songwriters to latin pop to prog rock. I’ve successfully created and developed artists who went on to sign larger label deals and become known worldwide. I’ve successfully gotten mainstream press and corporate radio support for unknown, developing artists and songwriters. I’ve worked with legacy acts on special projects. And I’ve even dipped my toe back into the stand-up comedy world again.
About six years ago, the work shifted drastically, and I started heavily working with talent that had investors and business partners in the mix. It had almost become necessary for independent artists to have a leg up with financial investment to be able to compete in the same markets as major acts. These days about 80% of my clients across the board have some kind of investor or partner involved. I pride myself on being able to work with financial partners, and usually accompanying business managers, on successful and wise spends of their funds into the talent they choose to invest in. It’s become an integral part of how I operate my business and the people I choose to work with.
Two years ago, I expanded my business and started a secondary company, The Thetford Group. I separated out all of my project management clients, consulting projects, non-entertainment clients, brand and business development clients, and all similar project-based work to the secondary company, which allowed me to expand the scope of work offered. And, during the pandemic, one of my record producer colleagues and friends from Nashville, Tres Sasser, approached me about starting a record label, and I was like, I’m in! So, we started Electric 3 Records in July of 2020, and immediately began working with artists we loved, releasing our first single in January 2021 – “What The World Needs Now (Is Love)” from the Amanda Broadway Band.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
These days I’m living in Memphis, TN, in a beautiful historic district in Midtown in a 101-year-old bungalow I’ve been restoring. Lots of friends who’ve come to visit me here just love to hang out around my house and neighborhood. Great, huge front porch. Quiet and calm. Lovely shady streets for walks. Great records and coffee selection. Plus dogs…and cats. It’s a vibe. But, for an adventure…
Mandatory adventure spots are record stores. There are two great ones in my neighborhood – Shangri-La Records (https://shangri.com) and Goner Records (https://goner-records.com). So, after grabbing a great cup of coffee – these days I’m partial to City & State (https://www.cityandstate.us) in the Broad Ave Arts District (https://www.broadavearts.com) – we’d hit both record stores. I also live right by the zoo, which is amazing and fun, so that’s always a great afternoon of wandering. You can feed giraffes and pet kangaroos! What’s not to love?!
Memphis is a culinary hotbed. Within 5 miles of my home, you can eat anything from Ethiopian to ramen to Cajun to French. Plus, you know, BBQ. It’s kinda a big deal here. Lots of wonderful choices, and I usually offer recommendations based on what guests want. A great spot is Global Cafe (https://globalcafememphis.com), which is an international food hall that hosts three immigrant/refugee food entrepreneurs from Syria, Sudan and Venezuela, with other employees hailing from Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, and Mexico. Eclectic, authentic dishes that are also affordable. Global Cafe is inside the amazing mixed-use community hub of Crosstown Concourse (https://crosstownconcourse.com). Crosstown Concourse is a repurposed, sustainable-living structure that formerly housed the Sears distribution center, which was built in 1927. It is a great feature in the neighborhood, is 1.5 million square feet of space, and houses multi-style living spaces, small businesses, medical offices, great restaurants, and an arts non-profit, which supports a music venue, cafe, and art gallery. The Art Bar is also a great place to grab a drink and hang in it’s cool little nook seating spaces before a show or dinner. Post-dinner, Bar DKDC (https://bardkdc.com) in Cooper Young is my favorite place to catch a show.
Of course, in Memphis there are the usual things to hit on a visit – Sun Studios, Stax Records, Sam Phillips Recording, the GIANT BASS PRO SHOP IN THE PYRAMID (yeah, it’s a real thing), Beale Street, the Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, the Peabody Hotel to see the ducks in the lobby fountain (yeah, it’s also a real thing), Graceland, etc. I love friends coming to visit, and I’m always down to go just about anywhere.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My shoutout is to my family, mainly my parents. They always encouraged me to pursue my love of music and the arts, as far back as elementary school. They backed my decision in college when I told them I wanted to major in audio engineering. They supported my decision to quit my record label job and start my own talent management company. They instilled a strong work ethic, taught me to never give up, encouraged me to take smart risks, and provide business guidance any time I need it.
Secondary shoutout to my former record label boss, Al McCree, who encouraged me to quit my job with him and do my own thing managing talent. I wouldn’t be where I am in my career without the potential he saw in me and the initial push he gave me to go out on my own.