University of Richmond alumna Whitney Asher discovered her flair for advertising and saw her love for music bloom while she was an undergraduate student on campus. Today, she lives out both of these passions through a business she created, and she is ready to share what she learned with her fellow Spiders.
In 2015, Asher founded her own company called The Marketing Mixtape, based in Richmond, that aims to help new musicians strategically promote their brands.
“I’m so passionate about music," Asher said. "When I was a student, it was just a passion project. … I never thought I could make a living out of it in any way."
The Marketing Mixtape works primarily with independent musicians in order to “help them fill in the blanks” for branding and promotions, Asher said. The company also has worked with other start-up companies, Asher said.
“We treat musicians as entrepreneurs, so it’s a very start-up-centric agency,” Asher said.
Asher found her passion for advertising at UR as a rhetoric and communications major and a studio art minor, especially through the lens of being able to articulate and communicate effectively.
After Asher graduated from UR in 2012, she went on to graduate school at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Brandcenter, a business program focused on branding.
Even though she ultimately graduated with one major, Asher changed her major five times while at UR.
“I was so interested in so many things," Asher said. "Now I look back at all the things I [thought about majoring in] and I realize they’re all relevant to entrepreneurship and starting a business in some way."
Asher credits a lot of her interest in music to her involvement with the radio station at UR, WDCE 90.1 FM. She had her own show, where she played music she enjoyed and interviewed local bands.
“I just adored it,” Asher said.
She went on to become the program director and helped to rebrand the station in various ways, including redesigning the logo and the website and planning an event, "Benefit the Beats."
“I didn’t think about it as a job," Asher said. "It was just a hobby. It showed me that I liked marketing."
Asher also pursued internships in the music industry with companies such as iHeartMedia and Universal Music Group.
While in between jobs, Asher realized that many bands were coming to her for her advice and that there was a business model that fits into this process, she said.
Now, only a few years after graduating and starting her company, Asher sees the importance of providing guidance for undergraduate students, she said.
“I would love to do anything to give back and inspire students to take what they’ve learned and do what they want with it,” Asher said.
This sort of inspiration has included speaking at an event through the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business about a month ago called "Deconstructing Marketing and Communications," where she met Marie Donnici, then a senior at UR.
Donnici connected with Asher at this event, and she now serves as a junior publicist with The Marketing Mixtape.
After hearing Asher speak at the event, Donnici had reached out to her for an informational interview.
“Her enthusiasm was infectious,” Donnici said. “I wanted to latch on to Whitney’s experience in both the industry and PR.”
Donnici will spend the summer doing public relations for The Marketing Mixtape before beginning a master’s program in public relations at Ball State University in the fall.
The future of The Marketing Mixtape remains positive in Asher's eyes, she said.
“I see it going in a somewhat educational direction,” Asher said. “Focusing on pedagogy and the DIY aspect of the company — so, empowering musicians to do more on their own.”
Asher also hopes to get more into the digital technology side of music in order to send more universal messages about these marketing strategies.
Asher will continue this mission of education at several different workshops and conferences this May.
Contact contributor Meredith Scroggin at firstname.lastname@example.org.