Podcasts have taken over our timelines, so why not take over HBCUs? NextGen Creator Day is an audio immersive event that will guide students through the ins and outs of the industry and inspire them to launch their careers in audio.
“I think it’s important as someone who teaches in the AUC to take very seriously that we have a responsibility and an opportunity to introduce students to the dreams of what is possible for them,” Dr. Michele S. Hite told GU.
ATLANTA, GEORGIA – MARCH 20: Congresswoman Nikema Williams (L) and students attend Spotify NextGen Creator Day at Spelman College on March 20, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Spotify)
Last fall the company announced initiatives to grow podcast culture on HBCU campuses through an initiative called NextGen. The first HBCU stop was Spelman College as Spotify is committed to using its platform and resources to drive cultural change.
Kristin Jarrett, Equity and Impact Strategy and Outreach Lead at Spotify being a Spelman alumna herself knows the lack of resources surrounding HBCU students.
“I know firsthand how much incredible talent you have on HBCU campuses,” Jarrett told GU. “Sometimes we’re just looked over right or don’t have the resources to connect our students with every opportunity, so I think capturing their stories is important.”
ATLANTA, GEORGIA – MARCH 20: Congresswoman Nikema Williams (C) and students attend Spotify NextGen Creator Day at Spelman College on March 20, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Spotify)
The event focused on unveiling how Spotify unlocks possibilities for a new class of Black content creators and provides them with tools and resources to develop their podcast skill sets.
Students received a visit from Congresswoman Nikema Williams, a fellow HBCU graduate who has the main focus of providing access to the next generation. “I wanted to come today so that we can make sure that we were highlighting the importance of this opportunity,” Williams said. “Spotify is coming in at a time when a lot of people talk about what they want to do for HBCUs, but they are stepping up and doing it.”
Spotify will be funding a scholarship for five first-year Spelman students interested in pursuing a career in audio media. The application opens today, and each recipient will receive a $10,000 scholarship during their sophomore, junior, and senior years.
ATLANTA, GEORGIA – MARCH 20: Dr. Michelle Hite, Associate Professor, Honors Program Director, International Fellowships and Scholarships Director, Spelman College, attends Spotify NextGen Creator Day at Spelman College on March 20, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Spotify)
Throughout NextGen Creator Day, students experienced the behind-the-scenes work it takes to create their own podcasts and how they can start creating content as soon as possible. What better way to learn about digital creation than from actual influencers?
Spelmanites received a personal visit from influencers Rickey Thompson and Denzel Dion to discuss all things friendship and audio storytelling on their podcast We Said What We Said moderated by content creator Wunmi Bello.
ATLANTA, GEORGIA – MARCH 20: (L-R) Host Wunmi Bello, Rickey Thompson, co-host of ‘We Said What We Said’, Spotify, and Denzel Dion, co-host of ‘We Said What We Said’, Spotify, speak onstage during Spotify NextGen Creator Day at Spelman College on March 20, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Spotify)
“To have Spotify doing an event like this just shows you the space is available,” Bello told GU. “If you’re ready to do this, you’re gonna do this, and that’s my biggest thing today to ensure that everybody who sits in this room understands there’s space for you and you can do this.”
Rickey and Denzel are no strangers to the influencer life as many of us met them through their Youtube channels, and they have now grown as one of our favorite duos on the internet. The two dropped some gems discussing the importance of branding yourself early on in your career.
“Be authentic and trendy, but also stay true to yourself,” Dion told GU. “I feel like now people just hop on trends and when the trend is not hot anymore then you’re not hot, with us we didn’t do that we were just ourselves.”
ATLANTA, GEORGIA – MARCH 20: Spotify NextGen Creator Day at Spelman College on March 20, 2023, in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Spotify)
The dynamic duo’s show airs every week where the two discuss all hot topics happening online but also use it to reflect on how far they’ve come. “This is an amazing feeling, honestly I wake up each and every day I’m like, ‘wow, this is really my life’ like we worked hard to get here,” Thompson told GU.
NextGen is supported by Spotify’s Creator Equity Fund (CEF) which powers the company’s commitment to showcasing and uplifting creators who have historically been underrepresented in the audio industry.
As the new initiatives and programs begin through the scholarship program and the creator lab program, Students will be taken through a series of interactive workshops that teaches them how to successfully develop, launch, and grow a podcast using Spotify For Podcasters.
About Kenyatta: Clark Atlanta University and Medill School alumna Kenyatta Victoria is the Girls United writer covering everything from news, pop culture, lifestyle, and investigative stories. When not reporting, she’s diving deep into her curated playlists or binging her favorite comfort shows.