We spoke with Eric Weiner about tailoring his daily content to a changing world, being a creature of routine, the evolving nature of New York, forming a company without a budget or business model and his complicated relationship with infinity.
We need to cater to music listening habits and there is no denying that people specifically consume their music in playlist form more than ever.
It’s kind of funny conducting a conversation with someone who’s in the same field as I am – making curatorial content, attempting to present new perspectives to the world. What you’ve been doing with The Wild Honey Pie feels fresh and new to me, though, because you’re trying to create an immersive experience that goes against the grain of “big media.” Would you agree? What are your thoughts?
I totally agree. We are a collective of creatives looking to curate amazing music while presenting our own work to the world. Everything, from our video content and events, to album covers for playlists and website design, has been created by members of the collective.
The Wild Honey Pie exists to help people find great new music. In doing so, we need to cater to music listening habits and there is no denying that people specifically consume their music in playlist form more than ever. We have worked incredibly hard over the last few years as we readied our new website to figure out an approach that would transform our music blog into a home for music discovery that allows our original video content, events and playlists to shine. We folded our music blog into a playlist called Buzzing Daily and are allowing music listeners to go a step further than music streaming services allow. Buzzing Daily is also available on Spotify for those who want to stay in that world. We find that our users want to know more about what they are listening to, and Buzzing Daily puts everything in one place for them.
I’m interested in your annual event, Welcome Campers, which combines music and a sort of nostalgia for summer camp in a unique way. Can you tell us what that’s all about? What are your future plans for it?
Welcome Campers is everything we as a team here at The Wild Honey Pie want from a music festival. The experience is limited to roughly 400 attendees who spend a weekend at a summer camp with 10 emerging bands who play sets around the campfire, in the dance hall, in the middle of the woods during a nature hike, on the beach at the waterfront and everywhere else at camp you could imagine. There are summer camp activities like arts and crafts, color war, yoga, ping pong and much of what you see pictured in movies like Wet Hot American Summer. We want attendees to buy their ticket and not have to worry about a single thing in the world so we include food, alcohol and lodging in the ticket price while keeping the tickets as reasonably priced as possible.
We have been producing the festival for six years now, but it started as a video series filmed at the home of my parents in Westchester, New York. We brought about 100 people to their property for the day with six bands and captured the whole things as recording sessions which you can find on our website. It worked well enough financially and as a concept that we replicated it the following year, but did it at a summer camp in Massachusetts called Camp Lenox. This is where we host the event to this day.
In 2016, we transitioned from a video series to a music festival as we started selling tickets and allowed more folks to get in on the action. We also increased the number of bands on the lineup and the formatting of the performances. We keep tweaking the weekend and feel like it has never been better. All of us are incredibly proud of Welcome Campers and simply want as many people to experience it as possible. For that reason and more, we are hoping to sell it out for the first time this year, putting ourselves in the position to produce two weekends in 2019. We are very happy at Camp Lenox and strongly feel as if the 400-camper threshold is the perfect amount of people for what we are going after. While video has taken a backseat as we focus on the event aspects themselves, we are looking to produce more content this year and in future iterations to share our story and extent the reach of the Welcome Campers brand for our partners.
There was no business model when I started writing and still no model when I started filming and putting on events. I just knew I was addicted to building the brand and working with musicians.
Please tell us the entire story of how and why you founded The Wild Honey Pie. What is your business model like, and in general, what are you trying to offer to a very congested media landscape that it might lack? What do you want to do in the future with Wild Honey Pie?
During my college years at the University of Colorado, I was actually more interested in pursuing a career in food and becoming a chef. I started a food blog that had some music elements, but it was mostly just restaurant reviews and my own recipes. In my final semester of school, I interned at MTV in London where I was inundated with new records and found myself being pulled towards a career in music and away from food. I decided to transform The Wild Honey Pie into a uniquely accessible source for new music. Once I moved to New York, I started producing video content and events, both which evolved over the years to become what they are today.
There was no business model when I started writing and still no model when I started filming and putting on events. I just knew I was addicted to building the brand and working with musicians. I was working full-time at MTV in Times Square, so making money with The Wild Honey Pie was not a concern of mine; I just wanted to create something genuine that reflected my personality and tastes. We learned how to produce content without a budget, which has really helped me over the years as we still operate with minimal budgets much of the time. It forced me to be very resourceful and make the most of nothing. It took me about four years until we actually needed to bring in money for the business. We did not want to rely on banner advertising revenue, as this had been and continues to be in decline. We decided that we could offer brand partners a more compelling and effective campaign by integrating their messaging in our video content and events as well as on socials and in our email newsletter. Kohler was our first client, followed quickly by Mailchimp, Squarespace, Burt’s Bees, Lärabar and Newcastle Brown Ale.
We knew we were doing something different than our competitors and our brand partners saw that too. It really paid off for us and we were able to monetize the business that way. Our community kept growing and allowed us the opportunity to work with artists I only dreamed of collaborating with when I started The Wild Honey Pie. Part of it was luck as well; we worked with some artists early who went on to become major festival headliners and continue to make this a core part of our model. We find great talent early and throw our complete support behind their art. They usually pay it forward and share our collaborations with their fans.
That is really the basis of our business model. Create the best work possible by collaborating with incredible artists and have our brand partners get in on the action and support our efforts financially. Add to that some video production work and we are building what we hope will be a sustainable business.
I moved to New York a year ago without ever having visited this city. The experiences I’ve had since then have been impossible to summarize, but I also sense it’s changed so much for people who have been here for decades. What is your impression of New York as a city, but also as a concept, an idea? How has it changed over the years for you?
I grew up in Westchester, New York, which is just an hour from the city, so I have been here for the last 30 years. I never came to Brooklyn as a kid, so my view of the city has changed quite a bit. There is obviously so much more than Broadway and Times Square which was the majority of my experience here growing up. Now I stay away from Manhattan when I can and have fallen madly in love with Greenpoint. It is quiet when you need it to be, but there is also so much to do here. The food is next level. I bring my dog out with me wherever I go and the local shops are all his biggest fans. I spend a lot of time in other cities, but there is no place as romantic to me at New York. I love that I can take a vacation or be a tourist in my own city on a regular basis. That feeling has never changed for me.
Can you describe a typical day in your life, from waking to going to bed? Perhaps on an hour-by-hour basis?
I am all about my routine. I wake up every morning around 7 a.m. and walk my dog Buzz. He is a giant creature and I love him so very much. We walk around the block until he poops, then I go to the gym so I can feel okay about myself for the rest of the day. After my shower, I have my home office to myself with red eye in hand for about 30 minutes before the team arrives at 11am. We work for a couple hours then grab lunch together and talk about what are looking to accomplish for the day and week. I love our lunches and feel like they are incredibly important for both morale and bonding purposes. I usually have meetings in the afternoon or lots of phone calls. I spend most of the day answering and writing emails, which I actually enjoy very much. I like coordinating and producing projects and am always in motion. At 7 p.m. I send the team away and either have a meeting or dinner with a friend. I usually end my day with a concert or drinks at Troost in Greenpoint with Buzz. I always make sure my inbox is at zero when I go to bed.
I hope to do what I love for the rest of my life and fear that may not be possible. I fear death and the finite nature of everything and everyone I know and love.
Finally, besides your work in media, please tell me about yourself as a person, regardless of that. What are your hopes and fears? What haunts you, irritates you or brings you joy?
Like so many people I know, my life really does revolve around my work. This has ended relationships and in ways holds me back. Nonetheless, I love what I do more than anything and know how lucky I am for that. I cherish every moment I spend on The Wild Honey Pie and with the people who share in the joys of the company. I do love time with my parents and make sure to carve time out of my work schedule to spend around a weekend a month with them. My dad runs his own business and I have always looked up to him more than anyone in the world. He is really my hero and best friend. I hope to do what I love for the rest of my life and fear that may not be possible. I also fear death and the finite nature of everything and everyone I know and love. People using the word sure irritates me beyond words.
Curated by: Morgan Enos
Conducted by: Email
Published: February 26, 2018
Total questions: 6
Word count: 1919
Reading time: Seven minutes
access, alcohol, arts and crafts, brand, Brooklyn, budget, business, Camp Lenox, campaign, collaboration, color war, competitor, concert, content, dance, death, drinks, Eric Weiner, festival, financial, finite, Greenpoint, immersion, irritation, lodging, luck, Manhattan, Massachusetts, minimal, model, movie, New York, operation, opportunity, ping pong, playlists, revolve, romantic, schedule, Spotify, streaming, The Wild Honey Pie, ticket, tourist, transformation, Troost, weekend, Welcome Campers, Westchester, Wet Hot American Summer, yoga
About the curator
Morgan Enos is a songwriter and journalist originally from California. His curatorial work for North of the Internet aims to strike a deeper place in his conversation subjects — the dreamy subtext to the linear everyday. Morgan also frequently writes power pop records as Other Houses about joy, outer space, frustration, chess and spiritual light. He resides in New York, where he continues to creatively fire on all cylinders.
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