With his friendly, laidback manner, it’s easy to imagine Eric Friedlander’s life focused on the guitar playing, surfing and photography he loves. That is, until you see his eyes light up while sharing stories of being on the road, representing HARMAN Professional Solutions at concerts, festivals and tradeshows across the world. From India to Nashville and from the Black Sea to Indio for Coachella, as Manager of Technical Resources for Tour Audio, Eric always seems be leaving or returning to HARMAN’s Northridge campus. Whether the destination entails setting up a new VTX system, providing support at a remote festival location or training techs on software updates, Eric shows up as the professional and ever-reliable face of HARMAN. In addition to his wealth of technical expertise, what strikes you most is Eric’s good humor and ease in adapting to any situation.
“One of our mandates at HARMAN is to support tour audio and lighting customers globally and, on the audio team, we have a great group of application engineers who are continually in the field,” said Eric. “I spend lots of time on the road but mainly act as a liaison between HARMAN’s main office and the guys on our applications team, making sure our customers are taken care of—wherever they are.”
“Our customers are the people who put on the events and are contracted to provide audio services. When their clients—festivals, bands and artists—see us supporting the vendors, they know we’ve got their backs, too, and that’s good for everyone,” he said.
“Whatever comes up, wherever we are, we go with it. I was always taught that the issue isn’t the problem—what’s more important is how you respond to it. All of our team members have been in the industry a long time and are experts at figuring out solutions. When it comes to live event production, most people never see the number of curve balls that get thrown behind the scenes,” he said. “Some of the best engineers can do their jobs when everything is going well, but the ones who excel respond best in adversity and are able to adapt to any situation. That’s what our team strives for; we try to be good citizens in the industry and support our customers however we can.”
Eric was born on the East Coast but grew up in Houston, where he developed a lifelong fondness for driving trucks, wearing cowboy boots and playing music. “I was a band dork growing up,” he said. “I played French horn from fifth grade until college, and then picked up guitar in high school, so I could do something different. I took jazz lessons in college and played fairly regularly. I’ve always played, recorded and jammed with my buddies just for fun.”
Attending American University in Washington D.C., Eric majored in audio technology. “There were only a few of us in the program, but nearly everyone ended up in the industry, and our paths still cross,” he said.
After graduation, Eric began working for a Washington D.C. sound company. “In 2008, the economy had crashed and jobs were hard to come by. Fortunately, the group that hired me had a solid slate of gigs. We traveled across the country, doing broadcast and corporate events for a couple days or a week or two at a time. There were lots of one-offs and industrial events, so working at HARMAN still feels like a continuation of that pace,” he said.
The company Eric worked for was a HARMAN customer, and he got to know people at Crown. “Moving back to Houston, I had an eye out for a new job, and one of the HARMAN sales staff I’d become friends with mentioned an entry-level job opening at Crown in Elkhart, Indiana. I applied and was hired,” he said. “Moving to a Midwestern town was definitely a major life change, but I ended up in South Bend, and it worked out really well. I made great friends, joined a band, got involved with the community and even became one of the founders of a brewery.”
Three years later, HARMAN offered Eric a new position in California. “There were five or six of us who worked at Crown at the time who relocated,” he said. “A lot of people come to Los Angeles and have to start from scratch; it was a pretty amazing opportunity.”
Eric quickly adapted to the Southern California lifestyle. “I had been cycling in Indiana and figured I’d do the same in Santa Monica, where I live. I love being on the ocean, but the Pacific Coast Highway isn’t the best for cyclists so, one Sunday, I tried surfing and went out Monday to buy a wetsuit and a board. I haven’t touched my bike since! Any chance I get now, I’m out in the water,” he said.
“You never know how things are going to work out. I didn’t expect to work for a long time at a big corporation, but here we are six years later with a great sales and marketing team, great engineering resources and a clear need in the market for us to develop new products and continue to raise the bar. I don’t see it slowing down any time soon, so I’ll continue to help manage our folks here and in the field, and our response globally. As long as I have some time to surf, sleep and play guitar, I think I’m good!”
Many thanks to Eric for sharing his story, love of music and roadworthiness with the HARMAN and tour audio communities!