I love podcasts. More specifically, educational podcasts. Even more specifically, educational podcasts about music, business and thinking differently.
Oftentimes, though, I’m at a loss when I’m caught up on a podcast I love or just in the mood for something different. I don’t listen to music at the gym or in the car, I listen to podcasts. I’m sure I look like a crazy person hysterically laughing while doing curls. Oftentimes, I pull out my phone and take notes or write down inspirational quotes.
The podcasts below are packed with excellent information you can use as you pursue your music careers.
This list is by no means comprehensive – just my current favorites. I’ll probably keep updating this so please list your favorites in the comments.
This podcast is produced by CD Baby. Know that going in. There’s great information to be learned, but just be mindful that each episode is kind of like an advertisement for CD Baby. It’s not blatant, and they don’t oversell (or even sell that often) but the reason there are no ads is because CD Baby is funding it. It’s free marketing for them to attempt to win customers, loyalty and good will.
That being said, there is some truly great info to be learned.
The podcast is run by CD Baby’s head of marketing Kevin Breuner and the guy who runs CD Baby’s DIY Musician blog, Chris Robley. Both are musicians. Chris is more of a ‘working’ musician – in the sense that he releases music and plays shows regularly. But Kevin also has a band that does well in the Christmas scene. They have the empathy that is tragically lost on so many other talking heads of the industry. They know how hard it is to be a musician these days and they never talk down to you. You kind of feel like you are listening to buddies in the scene who are trying to figure things out just like you. They have some answers, but maintain humility expressing they don’t claim to have ALL the answers – why they have so many ‘expert’ guests on the show.
They keep up with music news and have an interesting insight on the DIY music world – especially because they get an inside glimpse behind the scenes at CD Baby with their hundreds of thousands of artists and millions of releases. They cover topics like Spotify playlisting, release strategies, Facebook Live, branding and a bunch of other topics us DIYers have questions about.
I’ve been a guest a couple times on this podcast. My last episode with them was about a year ago: 26 Things To Do Before You Release Your Song or Album. Listen here.
I’ve known Leo most of my life. He was at my first ever NYC show in 2007 and he and his dad, the renowned jazz pianist Ben Sidran, played at the alternative High Holy Day services in Madison, WI that I went to growing up. Until you’ve heard their version of Eli Eli with Lynette singing you haven’t truly lived.
But I digress.
Leo is a working producer, composer, drummer, songwriter and singer – I would guess in that order. He has released records under his own name, has produced countless records, has been nominated for a Grammy, has won an Oscar (for a soundtrack) and is an all around great dude. This podcast gets nerdy. Musician nerdy. He has interviewed some of the best of the best like Butch Vig (Garbage, Nirvana), Adam Levy (Norah Jones, Tracy Chapman), Jonatha Brooke, Benji Rogers (PledgeMusic), Madeleine Peyroux, Jacob Collier, Paul and Ricky Peterson (Prince), Gabriela Quintero (Rodrigo y Gabriela), Dave King (The Bad Plus, Mason Jennings, Happy Apple) and most recently Theo Katzman and Jack Stratton separately (both of the band Vulfpeck). I highly recommend you start with Jack’s interview. It’s the best episode, IMO.
This podcast is more of a musician’s podcast – discussing the art and the craft. It’s not heavy on the business, but goes there sometimes. Leo can hang with just about anyone and knows his stuff. Whether they’re discussing guitar tones, producers, songwriters, deep cuts from the 70s or ASCAP royalties, Leo can get down. He’s a true jazzer and most of his guests are in the jazz, soul, funk and/or freelance world. He doesn’t have too many rockers or popers on. He’s all about the working musician.
I was on his show last year where I gave a lot of my background and discussed the landscape of the New Music Business. You can listen to that here.
But start with Jack’s episode.
Oh, I’m also a Patron of the Third Story. And you can be too. (no Leo isn’t paying me to say this – I’m paying him!)
And on the complete opposite end of the musical spectrum, we have And The Writer Is… I only recently discovered this podcast, but man is this a goldmine. It’s run by hit songwriter Ross Golan (Maroon 5, Justin Bieber, Lady Antebellum, Selena Gomez, Michael Buble, Flo Rida, One Direction, Andy Grammer – ok let’s just say one of the most successful songwriters of today). His guests have included Jack Antonoff, Julia Michaels, Desmond Child, Rhett Akins, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and Dan Wilson. Dan’s episode was the first I listened to. He actually got me hip to this podcast. Dan, as you should know, co-wrote “Someone Like You,” “Not Ready To Make Nice” and of course, “Closing Time” with his band Semisonic.
I really love this podcast as a songwriter because they dig deep into the process of songwriting and co-writing. You can hear from some of the biggest and best pop songwriters in the world on how they go about their work. It’s very illuminating and removes a lot of the mystique behind the process. It inspires me to write more and challenge myself to be a better songwriter.
My biggest critique for Ross (but this is a good note for every interviewer): don’t assume we know who you’re talking about or that we know your guest’s entire backstory (that’s why we’re listening!). Would be helpful if you clarified when your guests just drop first names. It took me until the very end of the Julia Michaels interview to realize that every time Julia said “Justin” (which was a lot) she meant Tranter – not Bieber. She is the “Sorry” songwriter after all. To make matters worse, she said “Justin” for BOTH in the interview. Ross, my man, clarify for your listeners when they do that, por favor.
This world of pop songwriting isn’t one that I aspire to be a part of necessarily (at least not now), but it’s still very interesting to hear their stories, process and philosophy.
Chris Goyzueta is a talent buyer, promoter and educator. He used to book clubs in New Orleans and now works out of Florida (Miami I believe?). He is very focused on the live game as that’s his expertise, however he brings on some guests who dig into other aspects of the biz – like his most recent guest, DIYer Dawn Beyer who earned $74K in a year on Facebook Live or Kyle Lemaire who has mastered online sales marketing for musicians. Most of his guests, though, are booking agents and promoters. He has had guests on from ICM, House of Blues, Live Nation, Paradigm, United Talent Agency, Degy College Booking Agency and Vans Warped Tour.
I’m also a Patron of Chris G’s and you can be too here, (Chris isn’t paying me to say this – I’m paying him!)
This podcast is run by Michael Brandvold and Jay Gilbert. Both have been in the industry for decades and are marketing experts – in that they have run successful marketing campaigns for big artists. They keep up with the industry and tend to cover topics that musicians and managers want to know about right now – like Spotify playlisting, blockchain, VIP programs, release schedules, Facebook Live, concert promo and sync licensing.
I’ve been on a couple times. My most recent episode we discussed How To Pitch to a Spotify Playlist – which you can listen to here.
I discovered this podcast from a Google Alert. Google informed me that rock managers Blasko and Mike Mowery were dissecting one of my Digital Music News articles. So I took a listen. These guys are true rock lovers. They are deep into the heavy rock scene. I’m not, but the scene sounds very fascinating. And there’s a lot of great insight they give no matter what scene you’re a part of.
There is actually a lot of overlap with the heavy rock scene and the hip hop scene in terms of maintaining a DIY ethos. Musically, there is very little overlap and you don’t typically find people who work in BOTH scenes, but the ethos align.
These guys keep up with the news and the current trends and divulge best tactics on how to operate a successful music career in today’s world (they’re artist managers, they kind of have to). They usually dig into a recent music news article and give their thoughts on it – based on their experiences and knowledge.
This is straight up insider baseball. Run by Dan “Steiny” Steinberg and Luke Pierce. Dan is the co-founder of Emporium Presents, a promotor based out of Seattle – but his company promotes shows all around the US. His guests mostly include other promoters and booking agents, but he has had many managers on as well. Why I call this insider baseball is because Dan digs deep into who works where, who left an agency and now works at another agency, which agency got acquired, on and on. This one isn’t really for DIY musicians – moreso for those actively working on the business side of the industry to keep up with the big players of the biz.
My episode is dropping sometime in December – or so they’ve told me.
Non-music podcasts you should be listening to:
When I was writing my book I listened to this podcast religiously. He interviews advanced thinkers and innovators of every field. If you want to expand how you approach business, marketing and, well, life, dig into this.
My favorite episode, and possibly my favorite podcast episode of all time, is his interview with Jamie Foxx.
Another inspiring business-focus podcast is How I Built This. Guy Raz (of NPR’s TED Radio Hour) interviews founders of big companies, organizations and movements. Some of his guests include the founders of Southwest Airlines, Rolling Stone, Vice, Airbnb, Instagram, Radio One, Kickstarter and Whole Foods.
My favorite episodes are Troy Carter (Lady Gaga’s first manager) and L.A. Reid’s.
This one is run by singer/songwriter Cathy Heller. She built her name as the synch licensing queen. She has gotten tons of her music placed in film/TV/ads and now teaches other musicians how to do the same. She started this podcast to give all creatives (not just musicians) an inspirational kick in the butt. Most of her guests aren’t in the music space, but all offer creative ways to approach your career. If you’re in need of some positivity and inspiration, check this one out.
If there are any other podcasts you think I should add to this list, please let me knowin the comments and tell me why!