Liner Notes

Rock This with Allison Hagendorf

5. August 2022

In some ways, creating a Music + Talk show is another day at the office for Allison Hagendorf: She’s the Head of Rock (no, there is not a cooler job title) at a little company called Spotify, and no stranger to hosting all manner of events—from nationally televised music-competition series to...New Year’s Eve in Times Square! And that only scratches the surface of her prolific two decades in the music and entertainment industries. Hagendorf’s show, Rock This, enables her to explore rock and alternative music in ways she hasn’t before: Through deep dives that include exclusive interviews with the artists—both legendary and emerging—behind the music she highlights. Given Hagendorf’s experience and expertise, it’s no surprise that Rock This brings together the passion, homage, and storytelling you might find in the perfect rock ‘n’ roll song.


Hi, I’m Allison Hagendorf, and I’m the Head of Rock at Spotify and the host and executive producer of the Spotify original show Rock This with Allison Hagendorf. I’ve been working in the music and entertainment industry for the past 20 years, and got my start as an A&R executive at both Columbia and Epic Records.

I then transitioned into becoming a TV host and music journalist, interviewing artists and covering music news as the main host on the Fuse Television Network. I then went on to host the The CW’s music-competition show The Next, alongside celebrity judges Gloria Estefan, Joe Jonas, Nelly, and John Rich, as well as The X Games on ABC and ESPN—and served as the live announcer for both the MTV Video Music Awards and the MTV Movie Awards.

Additionally, I’ve served as the official host of Times Square New Year’s Eve for the past seven years. Music and hosting are my pillars.

What’s your show about?

Rock This celebrates all things rock and alternative past, present, and future. The weekly show features exclusive interviews, and highlights the best music from both legendary and emerging artists.

What motivated you to create a Music + Talk show?

My background is hosting music shows and interviewing artists, so it was a natural evolution to create this show on Spotify. I love being able to create and curate playlists for music fans, but now I’m giving the listeners a backstage pass to the stories behind the music.

Creating the show

What was your thought process when choosing your show’s format?

I wanted to make sure that each episode highlights music from the past, providing the context and influences for the newer featured artists as well. An artist’s influences speaks volumes and can give great insight into the story of their journey.

What tools and gear did you use to make this show possible?

I use an AT4040 mic (Audio Technica) along with an Auray reflection filter. I record using Audacity and Focusrite Scarlett Solo interface.

How do you select which songs you include in each episode?

It’s so, so, so difficult to choose the songs each week. There is so much great music out there, but I try to find a balance of all the different subgenres in each episode and a perfect blend of classic and fresh. I kick off the episode celebrating a cultural moment or album anniversary and let an incredible song from the past lead the way.

What kind of research goes into making a show like this?

I usually hit up the artists I’m thinking of featuring to get their personal perspective and anecdotes to share with the fans. As for the interviews, I make sure I know as much as possible about the artist. It shows respect when you have the context for what you are discussing, and inspires trust for the best possible conversation. Although there’s nothing more important than listening when it comes to having a great conversation. That goes for any conversation—not just for interviews. Listening and being present is everything.

Finding your fans

What audience are you trying to reach with your show?

This show is for anyone interested in rock and alternative music. Whether that’s someone who’s been a mosh pit maniac for years or someone just getting started, this is the show for you.

What do you hope your listeners will take away from it?

When a listener puts on this show, I hope they feel that this is THEIR show. I want it to feel like a homecoming of warmth and nostalgia, but also as something new and exciting. I hope it’s a way for music fans to learn, connect, and celebrate.

What are some creative ways that you’ve promoted your show?

I’ve created assets to share on socials but the greatest compliment has been the organic sharing within the [music] community. Both the show’s guests and featured artists, as well as the fans, have been sharing it each week. I know that we needed this show as a community, but to see everyone spreading the love and sharing my sentiments is just the most rewarding feeling. It truly warms my heart.

"I love being able to create and curate playlists for music fans, but now I’m giving the listeners a backstage pass to the stories behind the music."


Do you have any advice for people who want to create a show with music?

Just get started! Don’t overanalyze. Do the first episode and recognize that the show is a work in progress and there’s no wrong or right. Trial and error, along with passion and commitment, will get you the best possible show.

What are you most looking forward to as you think about the future of this show?

I started the show with having some of the newest impactful artists in the space as my guests, but [now] I have some of our favorite legends coming on the show. I think fans will be really excited. It just feels so good to be waving the flag for rock and alternative and to see that passion resonating with so many listeners. If this show becomes even one person’s new favorite show, then I feel like I’ve succeeded.

Listen to Rock This! With Allison Hagendorf

Photos by: Isaiah Anderson

The opinions expressed above are those of the interviewees and not Anchor or Spotify.

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