Mika El-Baz ’85: Music Publicity Executive

How She Got That Job

by Christina Barber-Just

Smith Major
Art history
Current Job
Executive vice president, publicity, RCA Music Group. A unit of Sony Music Entertainment, RCA Music Group comprises four record labels and boasts a roster of recording artists that includes Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera, Rod Stewart, Kings of Leon, Foo Fighters, Whitney Houston, Sarah McLachlan, and Jamie Foxx.
What She Does
El-Baz is based at RCA Music Group’s headquarters in New York City. She supervises the publicity department, overseeing a staff of seven publicists in New York and LA. Her main task is to promote the label group’s artists through press campaigns targeting television, digital, and print outlets. This could mean landing them on American Idol, Saturday Night Live, PerezHilton.com, People.com, the cover of Rolling Stone, or in the pages of The Wall Street Journal. She also helps the artists deal with the media—whether they need to address a personal issue publicly, get media training, or define their brand.
Career Path
El-Baz spent her junior year in London and returned after graduation thinking she wanted to go into fashion. The fashion PR firm where she started out happened to share offices with a music PR firm. She took one look at the gold and platinum albums on the wall and knew she’d found her true calling. “I loved music but never in my wildest dreams thought it could be a career for me,” she says. She worked for two artist-management companies, one of which gave her the opportunity to promote Paul McCartney’s 1989-1990 world tour, before making the leap to a record label. She spent six years at Island Records and another six at Interscope-Geffen-A&M before joining RCA Music Group in 2004.

Want Her Job?
Get an internship! It’s the best way to see if you like the work, the atmosphere, and the nonstop hours. You don’t necessarily need to study public relations or get a communications degree (El-Baz didn’t). “You can have all the schooling in the world,” she says, “but if you’re not good on the phone with people, if you don’t know how to build relationships, this job is not for you.”
Spring 2011 SAQ