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The Music Industry Activist

News Story

Mariah Simpson ’20 hopes to one day work for a major record label and advocate for women in the music industry. But for now, she’s interning at Viacom and working on shows like the VMAs, Catfish, and Are You the One?

Mariah Simpson ’20 is part of the Business Honors Program, serves on the executive board for the Pace University Marketing Association (PUMA), is currently a Resident Assistant (RA) two years running, and even finds time to mentor young women at her church, Hillsong NYC. She’s also a major fan of the music industry—all the way back to her time attending numerous concerts during middle and high school.

That was when her friends began pointing out to Simpson that she frequently focused less on the performers and more on the goings-on backstage. “[I had] a fascination with the marketing of artists,” Simpson said. She wondered about everything from the production of a concert to how much money an artist made from a hit single.

When it came to researching colleges, she thought she had it all planned out. “I was obsessed with the city, and out of ignorance, I thought NYU was the only university that I would like. My mom ended up convincing me to tour Pace, and I fell in love the second I stepped on campus.” Simpson explained that her passion for the music industry and desire to break into that business perfectly aligned with the courses offered for arts and entertainment majors. “Pace gave me the incredible opportunity to do just that with a strong business background of core classes.”

As harmonious as Simpson’s interests are with her major, it’s her double minor in marketing and women’s and gender studies that really elevates her work to new heights. “I’m so passionate about intersectional feminism,” she told us. “I think it’s really cool to be an ally for others in the world of business. I hope to be able to write my senior thesis about gender inequality in the music industry and to highlight the alarming statistics about women being paid less than men for the same work.”

That passion to help her peers motivated her to pursue becoming an RA, not to mention her work as a mentor for PUMA and Hillsong NYC. Being a positive role model—particularly to first-year students—is very important to Simpson. “College can be extremely hard at times, and I Iove getting to serve as a resource to my peers,” she explained.

Currently, Simpson is interning at Viacom in the music licensing department, which means she mainly gets to work on shows at MTV such as the VMA’s, Catfish, and Are You the One? She’s also been involved with a few Nickelodeon shows as well; namely, everyone’s favorite SpongeBob SquarePants. “The company culture at Viacom is so fun,” Simpson enthused. This past Halloween, the entire office was transformed with spooky decorations and everyone dressed up. Talk about a fun place to work!

She’s also interned for Sony Music in retail marketing, noting that her favorite moment was getting to see the President of RCA Records present on the future of the music industry. “I’m a huge music industry nerd, so getting to listen to someone so important in the business talk about revenues, predictions, and statistics was the absolute best!” Simpson said.

When she graduates next year, she has high hopes of working at a major record label while volunteering her free time to help other women in the industry. We look forward to watching her take the industry by storm!

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