Drop The MIC: Defogging the music industry one episode at a time

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A group of Stanford students says there isn’t much information about making it big in the music industry available to the public — but they’re seeking to change that. 

“It can be a really smoke and mirrors type of industry where you’re not really sure what’s going on,” said Emily Redmond ’23. The group is trying to “defog some of the myths that go behind how people make the music that we love and how it comes to be.” 

Redmond, Elliot Dauber ’23, Braden Milford ’23 and Megan Aguilar ’20 oversaw the creation of the Drop The MIC podcast as a final project for MUSIC 150P: “The Changing World of Popular Music.” While small groups were tasked with making a podcast episode exploring artists’ rise to fame and experiences in the music industry, Drop The MIC evolved into an entire season with 13 episodes. Throughout the season, the students interviewed guests such as the managers of Dua Lipa, Conan Gray, Hailee Steinfeld and Lauv.

“Braden, Elliot, Emily and I were motivated to produce this curated season of episodes because we saw how many amazing professionals in the music industry our classmates were able to speak with,” Aguilar wrote in a statement to The Daily. “We had so much great content we couldn’t let go unshared.” 

Each episode has a different theme and features different guests whose advice reaches almost all corners of the music industry. Among the advice shared by guests, Head of Urban Music at Columbia Records Phylicia Fant called attention to avenues to promoting artists through local media.

“Local papers tend to care about artists coming out of their particular town and there’s never been a time I started PR that I didn’t start with the local papers,” said Fant in the fifth episode of Drop The MIC. “With Polo G…, we took over Chicago because he was from Chicago and wanted people to know like: This is your Chicago’s next biggest artist.”

The group said a lot of thought went into creating the podcast from start to finish. Each episode required extensive planning, guest outreach, interviewing, recording, editing and promotion.

“It was a bit nerve wracking when we had to reach out to the guests, especially since one of my guests was one of my favorite bands,” Dauber wrote to The Daily. “But I learned it was best to just go for it. The worst thing that can happen is getting ignored or turned down, but we were pleasantly surprised in most cases when people actually responded back and were excited to talk to us.” 

Working on the podcast afforded the students the opportunity to speak to prominent guests like country musician Hailey Whitters. 

“I was super nervous at first because I talked to some of the best songwriters in all of country music,” Milford wrote. “But the conversations were so heartfelt — just like one friend talking to another.” 

The students added that an exciting challenge in the interviewing process was trying to find a balance between reading off an interview guideline while creating a natural flow of conversation. 

“In actually interviewing, it was a balance of sticking to this interview guideline sheet that we had created before, like this thoughtful plan, but also wanting to be spontaneous and jump off of conversations that were happening naturally,” Redmond said.

According to Redmond, music played a large part in making the podcasts an enjoyable listening experience. Each episode was matched with music that corresponded to the mood of the conversation. 

Each individual podcast episode also employed theme music — composed by Tony Rodriguez ’20 — that tied every episode together.  

The students made sure to equally promote and thank each guest. Before publishing each episode, the Drop The MIC team shared plenty of posts on Instagram to promote their content.

“Every step of the way, we wanted our guests to be confident in what we were putting out with their names on it,” said Redmond. “So we created individual promo for each of our guests to celebrate every single one of them.” 

A bonus episode was uploaded on Dec. 7 and concluded the podcast’s first season. Drop The MIC’s entire discography is on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts

Contact Jessica Wang at jessica.wang766 ‘at’ gmail.com

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Jessica Wang is a high schooler writing as part of The Daily’s Winter Journalism Workshop.