Artist, Producer, Journalist Television & Radio Personality

Profile Piece in Parade

April 02, 2019

A huge thank you to Parade for featuring this profile piece on my pillars of passion: music and fitness


Spotify’s Allison Hagendorf Says ‘It’s An Amazing Time for Women in Rock and Alternative Music’ 

Allison Hagendorf Global Head Of Rock at Spotify (1)

Perhaps no one has more influence on the direction of the rock genre than Allison Hagendorf. As the Global Head of Rock for Spotify, she’s the one who decides which music is served up to the masses. A tastemaker to the max, Hagendorf revels in revealing great up-and-comers, as well as digging into rock foundations.

In addition to her passion for rock, Hagendorf is all in with Crossfit. In fact, her passion for fitness rivals that for headbanging, and while these obsessions may seem at odds, Hagendorf manages to find a unique balance and joy in the two.

Hagendorf is also comfortable in front of the camera. In fact, you might have seen her as the official host of the iconic Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration. Or as host for The X Games for ABC & ESPN or The Nexton the CW. She’s been the live announcer for the MTV Video Music Awards among many other events. sat down with Hagendorf to find out what she sees happening in rock today and how she juggles her personal goals with those of making the world fall in love with the next phase of rock.

Were you a fan of rock growing up?

I was raised on ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll and Motown. I actually wasn’t a rock person. It was hearing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – that was it for me. It literally changed the way I viewed everything. I’ve been a rock chick ever since that moment of discovering Nirvana. It was kind of like a gateway drug to me. Then I dove into the full ‘90s rock renaissance of everything from Soundgarden to Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine. Then I learned about the great Led Zeppelin—that’s my favorite band of all time. Really I just embraced rock ‘n’ roll history—where it was at the time and where it’s going.

Is rock still relevant and if so, is it in a different way than it was in the past? 

People are saying rock ‘n’ roll is alive and well, it’s just been underground. It needed to go underground. It had gotten to a point where it was no longer provocative or dangerous or fresh or innovative and got completely bypassed and surpassed by others genres. The good news is, that forced rock to go back to its roots and to develop and become something cool and fresh. We are in an incredible time for rock. I am a firm believer that the shift has already been happening, and I think we’re going to see the biggest part of this shift this year in 2019.

Rock music has always been a vehicle for messaging about social change or what’s happening in the world. Do you see that reflected in the new rock music that’s coming out?

Yes, 100 percent. And that’s what’s exciting about it. Young rock artists are singing about politics and societal nightmares and things that everyone needs to know about. It’s just so exciting. So yes, the fact that young artists are delivering the message now is another amazing sign that rock is back. It gives me hope that the younger generation is paying attention, and it’s going into their art.

I want to talk about the role of women in rock and how that has changed. What do you see happening?

It’s an amazing time for women in rock and alternative music. It’s really an empowering time. There are these negative stereotypes of women being in competition. I’m not seeing that at all. I’m seeing exactly the opposite. I am seeing women empowering each other, camaraderie, sisterhood, supporting one another, collaborating. It’s gorgeous, actually.

What has surprised you about what you do for, for work at Spotify? Has there been something that you’re like, ‘Whoa, I did not expect that?’ 

I don’t think I was able to understand the impact and the influence of being in my position to help empower bands and to help empower a genre that’s actually the underdog genre. In some cases, I’m the only person providing a platform for rock bands, there’s really not anywhere else for them to be discovered. So I guess it’s just so exciting especially to be able to take unsigned artists and giving them their first shot. Being the first part of the story is just so exciting and empowering. If they go on to get a record deal from that or are then able to get added to a terrestrial radio or to get a tour, to be part of that process first is just unbelievably rewarding.

Yes and I’m guessing you can be more open to new discoveries. 

My background is A&R [artists and repertoire], I did that for Sony for eight years in New York. I feel like I’m doing the best A&R now. Because when I was doing it I would bleed for what, five, six, seven artists? Now I’m helping thousands and thousands be heard worldwide. And to be part of that story for so many artists, that just doesn’t get any better.

Let’s switch gears for a minute. You are heavily involved in fitness. How did you get into it?

Fitness has been a part of my life since the beginning. I was always active. I grew up dancing. And then when I got into school, I started playing competitive sports—lacrosse, field hockey. It was empowering. I loved being strong. I always thought it was a platform for ferocity. Then when I was no longer in school as an adult, living in New York City, it was just about challenging myself.

I ran the New York City marathon twice. I picked up snowboarding, I tried pole dancing for two years and literally got a pole in my apartment. I feel I’m always trying to better myself. So I think that when you constantly put yourself in kind of uncomfortable and vulnerable positions, you get better. When I moved from New York to Los Angeles, I literally tried every single type of class that they have in L.A. The only thing I hadn’t tried was Crossfit.

I decided to give it a go and I just fell in love with it. I’d never done strength training or anything like that. I really, really love it. It’s a great community. It’s actually how I met my husband! I’ve gotten really strong. I was always fit but being strong offers a whole new level.

You have these two passions, music and fitness, are they ever at odds with each other? Are you out ‘til midnight and then you’re like, ‘Oh no, I can’t get to the gym?’

Yeah, it presents another challenge and that’s finding balance. I’ve gotten really, really good at that, where I take care of fitness in the morning. It’s not a non-negotiable. But also if I’m out late at night, I don’t feel like it’s required to go to the gym. I do listen to my body. But I do have my tricks, too. For example, tonight I’ll be out there at the Roxy, and I’ll say hello to the band before they go on so I don’t have to stay to the very end. Life hacks like that help me to embrace the balance because, you’re right, most people who are rocking out late at night are not at the gym in the morning!