Cultivating the next generation of music industry leaders
Developed in partnership with Warner Music Group (WMG), the Stanford/WMG Leadership Initiative identifies and develops a new generation of undergraduate Stanford students from across various educational disciplines for leadership roles in the evolving music business.
Each year, a select group of Stanford students learn directly from industry leaders through the combination of coursework and hands-on summer placement with WMG.
The Changing World of Popular Music (ARTSINST 150/MUSIC 150P)
This course, co-developed with WMG, features a rotating group of guest artists and executives. This course is a prerequisite for participating in the Summer Fellowship.
The majority of the course focuses on the industry as it works today and on forces that are causing it to change rapidly. The course features guest artists and executives with current experience in the field, as well as project-based assignments designed to give students hands-on experience. Topics may include: economics and business models of commercial music business, technology and music production, technology and music distribution, technology and marketing, leadership in the music industry: case studies, managing creative projects, copyright and legal issues.
Open to all Stanford students!
View additional enrollment details on Explore Courses.
WLI Fellows will receive priority enrollment as the course is a prerequisite for participating in the summer placement.
Summer Placement at WMG
Participants are given a 10-week paid “in-house” assignment with WMG or one of its program partners. The placement begins with a short introduction to the various groups within WMG. Students are then given a customized assignment within a specific WMG unit based on their individual interests. Each assignment provides students with a challenging, project-driven opportunity to explore business and innovation across the music industry.
Each student will have an area of focus within the business of the music industry. Areas of focus include (but are not limited to):
- Marketing and Creative Services
- Product Development and Design
- Software Engineering
- Data Analysis
- Business and Financial Services
- Social Responsibility and Social Impact
- Current Stanford junior or senior (including co-terms) in good standing
- Open to all majors
- Must be able to enroll in ARTSINST 150/MUSIC 150P during Spring Quarter
- For international students: CPT authorization may required in order to participate in the Summer Placement. (Students are hired for the summer directly by WMG.) Contact the Bechtel Center to review any additional paperwork/authorizations that may be required in order to participate in the summer placement.
How to Apply
Required application materials include:
- Professional Cover Letter and Resume
- Unofficial Transcript
- Name/contact info for 1-2 references.
- Letters of recommendation are not required, though we do request that you provide the contact information for one professor or previous supervisor who has agreed to act as references. We may contact them in certain cases and they should be prepared to write on your behalf should the need arise.
Meet the Summer 2018 Fellows
WLI cohort members present their capstone projects. Free and open to the public.
January 12, 2018
Roble Arts Gym @ Roble Gym
April 28, 2017
Pandora Challenge: Music & Social Change (feat. the Tegan and Sara Foundation)
May 19, 2017
Roble Arts Gym @ Roble Gym
Workshop attendees learned how to analyze music streaming data to identify markets, cultivate influencers and advocates, design artist campaign messages and ads on online radio and music streaming services, and design clear goals and calls to action. Working with music industry mentors, attendees create a pitch for a national social impact marketing campaign for the Tegan and Sara Foundation.
May 29, 2015
Grammy-nominee Kaskade, fresh from a record-breaking mainstage set at Coachella, and Cameron Strang, Chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Records and Warner/Chappell Music, discussed the pressures and potentials of the music industry in the 21st Century.
BA Film and Media Studies, BA International Relations
Ali Anglin is a filmmaker, event planner, DJ, and entrepreneur. This year, she coordinated over 15 all-campus events, parties, and concerts. Ali also created and led a year-long, three-part concert series sponsored by Stanford with the goal of highlighting talented female MCs from around the United States, and catalyzing conversations about increasing visibility of women in hip-hop. As a filmmaker, Ali has directed documentaries that have taken her to Costa Rica, Madrid, and Hawaii, and is also the co-creator and co-director of Petty, a web series sponsored by Stanford’s Institute for Diversity in the Arts. Ali is excited to combine her passions for music, marketing, concert planning, and film in her work at WMG this summer.
BS in Symbolic Systems, Minor in Creative Writing
Clarissa Carter is a junior majoring in Symbolic Systems, with a minor in Creative Writing. As a singer-songwriter and actress from Richmond, VA, she is interested in all aspects of entertainment, having performed with various acts such as T-Pain and Wiz Khalifa. She is the co-director and co-writer of “Petty,” an up-and-coming web series, and is also currently working on her second EP. Clarissa is ecstatic to be working with Warner Music Group through this initiative, and is excited to dive deep into the music business.
BS in Symbolic Systems
Dawit Gebre is a junior from Atlanta, GA majoring in Symbolic Systems. In his free time, he enjoys playing basketball, reading music blogs, and producing/recording music. Dawit is absolutely thrilled to be working with Warner Music Group this summer!
BS in Product Design
Chloe is a junior from Buffalo, New York, studying product design. Having grown up a clasically trained violist and pianist, she has a deep appreciation for composition and theory. As she began college, the music production side of the industry began to interest her more, as her love of the future bass genre grew. As a designer, her interests lie in graphic design, and user experience design. She hopes to blend these interests this summer, exploring how visual design drives revenue within the industry, or how to craft more meaningful music sharing experiences over different platforms.
Photos: Michael Spencer
BA in English, Minor in Art History
BA in Science, Technology, and Society; Minor in Theater & Performance Studies
THE REST IS NOISE
During their summer at WBR, Annabel and Parker learned that they knew nothing about the music industry. Or, more specifically, nothing about what anyone's job really entailed in the music industry. So they asked to sit in on meetings with every part of the label and chat in the hallways with managers, agents, and anyone else who had a free minute. While trying to decide what to do for a capstone, they realized that their most valuable moments were the ones in which they had the opportunity to just talk to people about the fundamentals—day-to-day work, industry stories, thoughts on SoundCloud . . . anything. After researching what resources already exist to learn about the basics of the industry, Annabel and Parker decided to bring their summer conversations to the public via an accessible, weekly podcast, The Rest is Noise.
BS in Symbolic Systems
BS in Computer Science
Charles and Trisha prototyped a social network for sharing musical stories, collections, and commentary. Their aim was to create a venue for ongoing, communal musical sharing to deepen the music discovery experience. The platform, Cadence, centers around the idea of "narrative playlisting" as a way to reintroduce the missing storytelling aspect into a streaming-music world. In other words, it uses songs, lyrics, and text to create music-centered narratives that can be shared with other listeners.
BS in Computer Science
BA in Psychology
Kyle noticed, in his time working at Warner Music as well as in his own music career, two big problems, and he believed he could solve both problems with one solution: “The Registry. One problem is that many more tools are available to signed artists, such as studio time and promotional help, than unsigned artists, and so this new platform would provide smaller artists access to the same tools that labels provide their artists. The second problem is that A&R teams are trying their best to keep up with the ever-changing music industry, but they don’t yet have the most efficient method for finding new talent, but now, because of “The Registry,” the artists are coming to the label. The main incentive for using this platform for the artist, beyond having access to the best resources in the industry, is that a label is involved in this platform, so, unlike other platforms, there is always hope that the artist will be able to meet with the A&R team, get their song heard by the right people, or at least get advice from people who know what they are doing. Kyle noticed that there are several different initiatives in the music industry attempting to solve these problems; however, his goal was to take all of their best pieces and put them together to create the best sum of the parts. Along with the label backing, Kyle believes that “The Registry” will provide a huge help to whichever label utilizes it.
BA Music, Minor in Psychology
MUSIC SAVES THE SOUL PROGRAM
Trent has been passionate about sharing the power music can have in people's lives since early childhood. After working at Warner Bros. Records this summer, he grew inspired to create a music therapy/educational program for children that would induce a creatively free environment and encourage involvement in playing music. The program consists of three sections: a performance by the volunteers, a music lesson, and a time for the children to play whichever instrument they would like. Music can change people's lives in beautiful ways, and that is hopefully what this program will do.
BS in Electrical Engineering, Minor in Music, Science, and Technology
UI AND VISUALIZATION FOR MARKETING DATA
During his summer placement at Warner Brothers’ Records, Mitchell worked on a team with 2 other fellows to create a database solution to facilitate company-wide storage, communication, and analysis of marketing materials. Centered around the marketing campaigns of artists, the platform allows labels to document the lifespan of an artist and aggregate data from a marketing perspective. For his Capstone, Mitchell extended the work product from his summer placement by creating UI and visualization tools to generate more meaningful insights from company data. The end objective of this project is to provide stakeholders a novel and holistic view of the strategies, costs, and revenues of a given artist.
BA in Political Science
Over the course of the quarter, Jose has been working on creating a music discovery application for his senior capstone project. The application, Swypem, adds the gamification element to discovering music by having the user indicate the way in which they want to listen to music. Users create their experience by filtering their music preferences by city and genre. As they are listening to music, they will be able to swipe up or down to indicate whether they like or dislike a song. All artists included in the app contain a set of followers that fall within a certain range. Jose hopes to find the middle ground between famous and amateur artists with the goal of making the job of A&R easier. By giving the music industry a simple way to find artists to sign while providing real time data on which songs are being swiped on the most, Jose plans to add a new tool to the ever changing world of music.
BS in Symbolic Systems
Starlight provides digital marketers weekly updates on the list of influencers on their areas of marketing interests such as fashion (e.g. 'Bottega Veneta', 'Daniel Wellington') or entertainment (e.g. 'Hamilton', 'Game of Thrones'), and allows digital marketers to sign up for their own personalized topics as well. Starlight uses extensive data mining, network analysis, and bot detection technology to come up with influencer recommendations, and aims to innovate the traditional method of discovering influencers explored by marketing agencies.
Photos: Madeline Libbey
B.S. in Biology
How do you assess an artist’s worth? Going beyond record sales, streams, and social media, we understand that an artist’s value lies in the devotion of his or her fan base. Using data-mining techniques, BeatCoin assesses an artist’s fanbase by segregating it into its component fan archetypes, financially assessing the worth of each archetype, and calculating the potential worth of that fan base. This allows any record label, management team, and even individual artists to know their potential, to engage with fans optimally, and create loyal fanbases that will generate sustainable revenue for years.
B.A. in Communication, Minor in Creative Writing
ADVANCING WOMEN IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
Women’s equality and representation in the workplace has been a recent hot topic in media, and many industries are being forced to address the inequalities they have fostered for years. The music industry is no exception, and may actually be one of the most salient examples of rampant sexism and lack of female representation at the senior level. However, when women make up the industry’s largest consumer population, it becomes more important than ever to have the female perspective in making artistic and business decisions. Mia’s capstone project focuses on the experiences of women working in the music industry in an effort to create a mentorship program that can support these women as they progress through their careers. She will be pitching a fully fledged six to twelve-month mentorship program to Women in Music, a networking organization for women working in the industry, for further support and development.
B.A. in Science, Technology, and Society
Charlie has created a writing service, Sympozium, which partners artists with creative writing experts to help them develop short op-eds and personal narratives. Sympozium aims to combat the use of an artist’s personal stories and perspectives for click-bait, which often misrepresents the artist and dissuades them from opening up about more substantive topics. By creating their own long-form content, artists keep control over their voice, and are free to discuss more pressing issues with their audience, without the pressure of creating a perfect soundbite on the spot . Sympozium can provide full publication services, including hosting and marketing the content, or it can help artists develop content to be hosted elsewhere.
B.A. in Science, Technology, and Society
For her capstone project, Madison focused on two dilemmas in the industry: the growing difficulty of selling physical products in this digital age, and the surplus of legacy materials and artwork stored by labels. She created MAD (Music, Art, and Design) Archives, which will collect legacy materials and artwork from music labels and then sell those materials through an e-commerce platform. Madison hopes to alter the “merch stigma” by re-categorizing merchandise as sophisticated items that tell the artist’s story.
B.A. in International Relations, Minor in Dance
Saint has focused their capstone project into the creating of Heist Society, a creative label that seeks to provide artist promotion, team development, and data collection services within the music industry. Heist Society's unique business model allows for artist and brand cross promotion, and provides a platform for innovators to create and test phone apps and other methods of data acquisition.
B.A. in Philosophy
Manolis has used his capstone project as an opportunity to build BeatWorks, a Bay Area based non-profit education program designed to empower young men and women in low-income communities by providing students with the skills and fundamentals of hip-hop music production, while simultaneously giving students exposure to successful hip-hop producers in the music industry.
Photos: Mason Patrick-Smith
Ally is a singer-songwriter who worked on a comprehensive strategy to develop, market and release her music. In addition to releasing covers and engaging on social media, she wrote and completed studio recordings for a series of original songs for her debut EP. She culminated the year with a college tour, performing her music at universities throughout California and Arizona in Spring 2016.
Savi built a web-based, cloud-enabled data visualization app built using human-centric design to meet the needs of music industry leaders. The app is designed to supply music industry leaders with a simple, aesthetic, and fun way to get insight on their artists. Its interface integrates disparate sources, filters out the irrelevant information, and presents information using storytelling—making insight easy and fun to come by.
BA Music, Minor in Computer Science
MultiMIDI reimagines the way modern musicians physically interact with music. It is a new interactive tool that makes creation and expression more efficient and intuitive than ever before, by collapsing the functionality of a standard DJ controller into a single device operable with one hand. The device combines the functionality of multiple buttons, knobs, and faders found on typical audio controllers into one compact interactive device. The device provides musicions with new opportunities to interact with their music in a more nuanced and human manner. With MultiMIDI, the music is quite literally in your hands.
BS Management Science and Engineering, Minor in Economics
Michael’s capstone provides a methodology that allows Artist & Repertoire (A&R) departments to meaningfully utilize the expanding presence of social data to help discover emerging talent. Through working with partners in the music technology space and consulting with data scientists, analysis was conducted on social media data from a sample group of WMG artists in order to predict and forecast artist revenue and growth. Through adding these new tools to the artist evaluation process A&R teams should be able to discover the most promising artists on the rise.
BS Earth Systems
Vote For Home is the first web video series to feature well-known musicians and artists discussing the impact of climate change in the United States. Zach’s capstone project involved producing the pilot episode featuring Los Angeles-based artist Taryn Manning (star of Orange is the New Black, singer-songwriter) and a town called East Porterville in California's Central Valley. Thousands of Americans in East Porterville are surviving off of bottled water due to the severe impact of climate change on the California drought.
MS/BS Electrical Engineering
Figuring out how to monetize content in areas where record labels have struggled to hold any major presence has always been a challenge. Most of the solutions have led to licensing deals with telcos or local partners within those regions. While licensing has allowed record labels to gain some revenue in emerging territories, they are far from participating in the upside that cracking these markets could bring. Sohaib’s project involves proposing and examining a framework of development that a record label could potentially use when trying to create a platform to monetize their content and maximize revenues in emerging territories, such as Brazil and India.
BS Symbolic Systems
While big music labels have come a long way in terms of embracing new technologies, they still lack a lot of the innovation that is commonly found within the tech industry. Hailey’s capstone involved partnering with startup TapTape to launch a campaign for a Warner Music Group artist. TapTape is a platform that lets fans invest in their favorite artists, allowing them to share in the success of projects they support.
Photos: Alex Tamkin