C’mon and Raise Up
North Carolina, entertainment attorney Alonzo McAlpine Alston says you’re the next hotbed for entertainment
Published in 2019 North Carolina Super Lawyers magazine
By Amy White on January 24, 2019
Blame it on his parents or his first lemonade stand—Alonzo McAlpine Alston was always trying to get his piece of the entrepreneurial pie.
Alston’s father ran several successful businesses, and his mother ran her own pediatrics practice.
“They laid the foundation for my belief that operating a business was a way to have independence and to interact with a large swath of people,” says Alston, of solo entertainment firm McAlpine in Charlotte.
There was another love Alston was nurturing—hip-hop and entertainment.
So what did he want to be when he grew up?
“Diddy,” he says. “He was appealing. He threw events. He was a brand.”
At UNC Chapel Hill, Alston realized he had the Diddy swagger; he just didn’t have the production company to back it up.
“I was good at bringing people together to do cause-oriented stuff, and I was good at convincing people to do the right thing,” Alston says. But how to combine those tools with a love for entertainment/hip-hop and business?
“How does any business start? By identifying a gap in services,” Alston says. The gap he found: There wasn’t a single entity that served as the epicenter of college life. “My friends and I are about to get in a car and drive to a party all the way in Raleigh, and it might be whack. I wanted to know for sure: Is it worth my time?”
Movement Productions was born. “That was my college education,” Alston says. He operated the event services and promotion/marketing company while an undergrad.
Originally geared toward college kids into the urban music scene, Alston developed an internship program, and managed a team who would do street promotion, create marketing materials, troubleshoot—a concierge event promotion service, offering packages from $500 to $2500.
Movement Productions made so much noise that Alston started to land different clients. A theater owner wanted to market a run of shows. “It was the first time we landed a major account—$7500,” Alston says. “His first check was short, the second bounced, and we didn’t get paid the entire summer. Meanwhile, we did our job—the company had to add a third show to each run.” The only lawyer he could find to give a consult demanded a $5000 retainer. “Suing wasn’t an option,” Alston says. “So we just never got paid.”
Alston draws on that situation with clients. “When a contract’s performance is not substantially completed or a party breaches, you do not have an obligation to continue performing your obligation under contract. Of course, I didn’t know that,” Alston says. “I make sure my clients know everything I didn’t.”
His solo shop is the next step in his love of business and entertainment. “I’ve had clients that span from Broadway directors to event production services to rap artists,” he says. “I’ve represented Emmy-Award winning show runners, television producers, film execs, producers.”
What does he do for those clients?
“Entertainment law is really everything,” Alston says. “Business law, IP law, small-business finance, copyrights and trademarks, start-up resources, contracts—pulling together all the various disciplines to help entertainment- and creative-oriented entrepreneurs build and protect their businesses and brands.”
So why not hang a shingle in L.A?
“I’m excited about the future of the Carolinas as a marketplace for entertainment,” Alston says. “People think of New York and L.A. as media markets, but the music industry and others are looking for a place to break a brand. I think we can be that place.”
If there’s one thing Alston knows, it’s stars on the rise in his own backyard. Here are his must-follow North Carolina-based entertainers on Instagram, no filter necessary:
Young Bull @YoungBullMusic
Da Baby @DaBaby
Rainbow Kitten Surprise @rksbandofficial
Luke Combs @LukeCombs
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