Katie Mitzell Fagan '02 is bringing new sounds to Music City (Nashville, Tennessee). Katie is Head of A&R for the Nashville branch of Prescription Songs, a publishing company owned by pop producer Dr. Luke. We caught up with Katie to chat about how Orchard helped lead her to working with one of the world’s biggest music producers.
Can you explain exactly what you do in Nashville?
I work for a music publishing company called Prescription Songs which is run by a pop producer named Dr. Luke. He has produced songs for artists like Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, etc. Music publishing is the part of the music business that handles, signs, and develops songwriters and producers. People often do not realize that artists you hear on the radio do not always write their own songs, or they often co-write their songs with other people to create the songs you hear every day. I work with anyone who writes and creates music and I help get their songs heard or released by major label artists.
What's the biggest accomplishment of your career/most notable musicians you've worked with?
About a year ago I moved from Los Angeles to Nashville to open and run our new office there. I started from the bottom working for my boss as his assistant and have worked my way up over the past seven years. In terms of notable musicians I have worked with, I personally signed a band called FRENSHIP almost three years ago and their single “Capsize ft. Emily Warren”
blew up on Spotify and now has over 400 million streams and went Top 20 on pop radio. I’ve also pitched songs from my songwriters and had placements with artists such as Justin Bieber, Dua Lipa, Rita Ora, Chris Brown, Jason DeRulo, Katy Perry, etc.
How did Orchard help you get to where you are today?
I went to Orchard from Kindergarten to 8th grade so I made some very important friendships over those years. I still am friends with many people from my class. I think those early roots taught me the importance of relationships and staying in touch with people who are important to you. Orchard was also always very supportive of the arts. I loved my art classes as well as my drama classes, and my favorite thing was the 8th grade musical. I felt I was taught from a young age that art was an acceptable and encouraged hobby and potential career path.
What's one thing you'll always remember about Orchard?
I’ll always remember making maple syrup from the maple trees! And playing capture the flag in the back field by the cabin. In terms of academics, again I really enjoyed all of my art and drama classes. I also remember always enjoying French class. In third grade, our French teacher set up a make-believe French restaurant with real food, and we role played being waiters, waitresses, and customers, and had to ask for the food in French. That’s a memory that has stuck with me and I always thought that was a creative way to teach!
What skills learned at Orchard do you still apply at work today? Orchard was full of diversity and people with different cultures and backgrounds. Everything always felt very acceptable there. I think those values are extremely important in my career and in my life today.
What's it like working with one of the biggest music producers in the word?
It’s incredible! I’ve never looked back. It is really great working for such a creative person. I get to listen to music everyday - what more can you love??
Any advice for Orchard students hoping to have a career in music/performance?
Keep going. Don’t give up. Network as much as possible. Find mentors and educate yourselves about people you look up to. The business is all about relationships and maintaining them.
I know Dr. Luke encourages you to find that hidden gem. Ever think about checking out any Orchard alums? :)