Podcasts for the Working-Class Musician
Looking for the absolute best music podcasts to level up your craft and expand your industry insight as a songwriter, music producer, audio engineer, or music entrepreneur?
Notable American entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously wrote that “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Songwriting and music production are often very isolating crafts, especially for beginners. Many artists tend to be introverts—and if lucky—an extraverted introvert.
What’s remarkable about podcasts is that much like a good novel, they allow us to spend countless hours with the host—typically an industry thought-leader and their entourage of industry professionals. Of the infinite benefits one could muster about having such a privilege, top of mind for me are: scope, discernment, competency, pragmatism, and fellowship.
For lone, budding, creators who often find themselves working in a vacuum, this is priceless.
You may be a genie in your home studio but the reality is that you have no clue in hell what to do about it.
Find the answer below.
And The Writer Is...
Suited for: Songwriters | Producers | Industry Professionals
Here’s an easy pick for the top spot. When I first discovered this podcast I experienced a profound sense of ‘Hallelujah,’ as if the clouds departed and the universe exposed itself to me.
And The Writer Is… is for songwriters and producers looking to top the charts and earn their way into the ears of the masses.
Hosted by multi-platinum songwriter Ross Golan (Maroon 5, Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, +) and produced by songwriter-producer Joe London (Pitbull, Jason Derulo, +) And The Writer Is… gives listeners a fifty-thousand foot view of the life and times behind todays biggest hitmakers.
For songwriter hopefuls, this is invaluable insight into what you’re up against.
Pro writing sessions are typically preceded by a hearty hang among writers sharing outrageous or heartfelt life stories, much of which find their way into the music. Golan accurately concluded these hangs would be of great value to songwriters everywhere and thus, And The Writer Is… was born.
You will listen to the writers of the biggest hits of our time discuss their journey from childhood, to the very point that you are at now, and all the way into living the dream and trying to keep it alive.
If you currently believe success is reserved to an exclusive club then I suggest you listen to the stories of renowned writers and producers like Charlie Puth, Desmond Child, Ali Tamposi, Ian Kirkpatrick, and Benni Blanco to learn that not only are you not alone in believing so, you’re also wrong.
I strongly recommend going back to their earliest episode and listening to their catalogue in its entirety. Then listen to it again. There are endless golden nuggets for the taking and you’re foolish to leave them on the table. I’ve enjoyed seeing Golan’ evolution as an interviewer which itself is a massive and admirable undertaking.
Each episode has a curated Spotify playlist which features the guests main work, allowing the listener to follow the narrative and see the diverse ways of thinking about popular music that many of these writers and producers are capable of.
A key takeaway from And The Writer Is… that has helped me up my game is to constantly A/B test my songs and productions against those that are receiving the success I imagine for myself. Ask yourself honestly: Am I this good? Does this really have what it takes? What is not popping in my own production? Then go fill in the gaps.
Ep. 1 – Benny Blanco, Ep. 11 – Mike Caren, Ep. 20 – Desmond Child
Follow And The Writer Is… on social media to keep up with the narrative and to keep your northern star on the periphery.
Suited For: Songwriters | Producers | Music Fans
Here’s a shining example of a world-class produced podcast that nails the craft of storytelling.
Song Exploder is hosted and produced by American musician and songwriter Hrishikesh Hirway who sits with cultural pop icons and as they deconstruct essential components of one of the artists hit songs.
There’s an impressive line up of guests that are all hyper prolific while varying in degree of pop culture appeal. Find names like Bjork, Nine Inch Nails, Iggy Pop, The Roots, R.E.M., and heaps more.
The way the songs are broken down and laid out in the context of the story is really quite a treat for the listener. There’s clearly a lot of prep work that goes into each episode, as you’ll often hear snippets of early demo sessions, solo’d sections working themselves out in early ideation, and other sounds that either make the song what it is or didn’t make the cut.
Song Exploder goes as deep as to offer listeners the experience of kinship with the artist. For developing songwriters and producers, this experience is priceless. You may find the artist voice thoughts you’ve heard before or describe a process that matches your own. It is encouraging to hear this from such prolific artists as we often feel that we are endlessly spinning our wheel and that our seemingly helpless processes are uniquely our own.
Each episode finishes with a listen of the featured song in its entirety—and after the deconstruction—and regardless of how many times you’ve already heard the song, you feel an updated first-impression of it and the filter from which you listen to it onward will be forever transformed.
Ep. 134: Arcade Fire – Put Your Money On Me, Ep. 94: Solange – Cranes In The Sky
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Suited For: Songwriters | Producers | Music Fans
For seven years, Liverpool music duo Simon Barber and Brian O’Connor have been interviewing world-class songwriters about the creative processes behind crafting culture-moving songs.
Sodajerker digs into the the history of the artist and their evolution, giving you an inside look at the kind of dedication and discipline required that made them who they are today.
Though many of their guests have seen their songs at top the pop charts, Sodajerker typically interviews timeless songwriting craftsmen/women who’s prolific work expands genres and calibre with a deep focus on musicianship and storytelling in music.
You’ll sit with non-dated writers like Cat Stevens, Paul Simon, Robbie Robertson, Noel Gallagher, Van Dyke Parks, Stanley Clarke, Rufus Wainwright, and many more.
What’s fascinating to observe while listening to episodes of Sodajerker is the breadth of work in music for those who create opportunities for themselves instead of waiting for them to come around.
Episode 98 – Robbie Robertson, Episode 51 – Van Dyke Parks
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Suited For: Producers | Engineers | Songwriters | Audio Entrepreneurs
This is one of the holy grails of music production destinations on the web today so if you’re not already in the know then you’re damn welcome. Pensado’s Place has always been, and continues to be the gift that keeps on giving.
For about six years now, Grammy winning mix engineer Dave Pensado and veteran manager/executive producer Herb Trawick have been bringing together the industries elite producers, engineers, and songwriters in in-depth interviews talking all things music to an everyday audience of up and coming talents like you and I.
Dave is hailed as one of todays godfathers of music production and with a portfolio that includes names like Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Elton John, Mariah Carey, Diana Ross, Backstreet Boys, Justin Timberlake, and countless more, it’s no wonder why.
With a thriving Youtube channel of hundreds of thousand of subscribers and hundreds of episodes in the bank, Pensado’s Places dishes out endless knowledge on creating radio-ready productions. He has taught countless students who have gone on to be the best in the industry and credit him tirelessly for his priceless teachings and boundless capacity to give.
Pensado’s Place features a consistent all-star line up of names such as Andrew Scheps, Boi-1-da, Jimmy Douglass, Butch Vig, Bob Horn, Jaycen Joshua, Young Guru, Tony Maserati, Tom Elmhirst, and many many more.
Though Pensado’s Place is typically a YouTube sensation, all episodes are available in audio format on iTunes to be consumed around the clock. Do yourself a favour and subscribe to Pensado’s Place wherever available for a steady drip feed of pro audio education.
#83 – Mix Engineer Tom Elmhirst, #330 – ‘Despecito’ Mix Engineer Jaycen Joshua
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Switched On Pop
Suited For: Songwriters | Producers | Music Fans
Well-produced, entertaining, informative, and tons of fun.
Switched On Pop deconstructs pop songs and all their elements through a musicologist lens which helps the listener identify the overarching cultural narratives that make the songs truly “pop.”
Hosts Nate Sloan and Charlie Harding are two well-spoken music nerds with a dumpster truck of knowledge that intersects music, anthropology, and pop culture.
The keyword here is “culture” and I think that it’s one that is often overlooked among young songwriters and producers when faced with zero public reaction to their releases. If you’re music isn’t relevant to the times and the culture in which you release it then it’s not the worlds fault, it’s yours. If you don’t care about any of that, don’t complain.
Switched On Pop helps you tap into the cultural narratives of different genres, giving you historical and geographical context while at the same time competently describing the writing and production value of a given sound.
This helps writers step outside their bubble and take part in broader narratives which offers boundless potential for self-discovery and expression. In an age with such hybrid genres of music and production techniques, this is absolutely priceless for creators.
#79 – 808s & Havana Heartbreak, #81 – Gucci Gang and the Neural Substrate of Subjective Time Dilation
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The Six Figure Home Studio
Suited For: Producers | Engineers | Audio Entrepreneurs
The Six Figure Home Studio is a platform that helps home studio owners from beginner to expert create a thriving business with oiled gears and a forecast for growth. Their podcast is a consistently-published goldmine for any audio professional looking to scale up their business.
Covering essential topics like marketing, contracts, taxes, logistics, and fun, hosts Brian Hood and Chris Graham enthusiastically dish out the goods.
The web is full of education in music production but completely lacking in what to do with those skills. This is a need that the Six Figure Home Studio fills notably well and the proof is in the pudding.
In addition to the podcast, their website offers tons of free content of immediately applicable tactics to help grow your home studio business, and offers in-depth courses that dive deeper into business operations.
They’ve built a solid audience in their Facebook group of fellow home studio owners where one can find comradery and advice in a totally musical and entrepreneurial community.
I recommend listening through their entire catalog to get pick up every piece of knowledge and encouragement that will help you cut off the fat in your learning journey and get results faster.
#29: 12 Amazing Tools to Help You Run a Profitable Home Studio, #5: The Business of Running a Home Studio
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Unstoppable Recording Machine Podcast
Suited For: Engineers | Producers | Audio Entrepreneurs
So this whole enterprise is really cool and I should give the backstory before digging into the podcast.
Unstoppable Recording Machine is an informative music production blog and podcast geared toward metal producers and engineers. They’ve got tons of in-depth articles, videos, and episodes teaching budding headbangers how to create top-notch productions from home.
In liaison with this platform they have an online academy called Nail The Mix which trains producers in metal and rock through online courses. These courses include raw multi-track sessions to work alongside the teacher that can often also be added to the students portfolio, an online community, and plenty of other bonus features.
Courses are taught by renowned metal mix engineers such as Joey Sturgis, Kane Churko, Andrew Wade, Taylor Larson, and Kyle Black.
The podcast not only interviews industry professionals covering essential topics in career development, but also interviews students of their courses who have ran with the knowledge to go build successful studios of their own.
I recommend Unstoppable Recording Machine for all studio owners regardless of the genre you’re working in. The knowledge is completely sound, and useful to any audio professional looking for clients. Metal music has an outrageously dedicated and loyal audience. Surely anybody could benefit from hearing the successful people behind it talking shop.
Ep. 197 – Kevin McCombs, Ep. 192 – Jason Lekberg
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Suited For: Songwriters | Bands | Producers
Noise Creators is a platform that connects artists with highly established music producers and mix and mastering engineers throughout USA and Western Europe.
I really like the concept and I’d like to see it succeed as it helps up-and-comer’s work with otherwise untouchable producers unreachable by other means.
The Noise Creators podcast sits down with many of these industry pros such as Chris Athens, Marc McClusky, Joey Sturgis, Steve Evetts, and Steve Kravac to get the backstory on their lives and working their way up the ranks.
Listen to the before and after of a bands music before working with a notable industry pro. You’d suspect the band was put through a process that elevated their music to a whole new level. This evolution is undoubtedly a journey and the relationship to the producer at the reigns is surely an intimate one. Think of how artists talk about working with Rick Ruben. Noise Creators gives artist a focused look on the producers character, the way they work and why.
For budding producers, this is also invaluable as you learn to understand your roll and hear it characterized through the filter of many of today’s best.
Noise Creators is a bit more geared towards a rock, punk, and hardcore audience but there’s fantastic insight for everyone.
Ep. 42 – Steve Kravac (Blink 182, MxPx, Less Than Jake), Ep. 44 – Chris Athens (Drake, PVRIS, Mac Miller)
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Hanging Out With Audiophiles
Suited For: Producers | Engineers | Songwriters
Here’s another “Hallelujah” invoking podcast that will make you thank god it’s 2018.
Established musician and singer Jamie Lidell hosts the Hanging Out With Audiophiles podcast interviewing such greats as Mark Ronson, Tony Maserati, Paul Epworth, and A-Trak in full nerdiness of all things studio and production.
Episodes begin with a segment Jamie called the Nitty-Gritty where he fiddles around with sounds and their parameters, explains to you how he thinks about them and some potentially great uses for them.
With guests Jamie digs into entertaining stories, fun production techniques, thoughts about mixing, and insight into some cool equipment.
By the looks of it, Hanging With Audiophiles is a pretty new venture for Lidell already scoring major guests and large sponsors for the show. I’m certain that should he keep it up, he’ll be poised to become a large influencer in the industry and one of the first artists to use the podcasting medium as an effective tool for growing a loyal audience.
Ep. 21 – Mark Ronson, Ep. 10 – Paul Epworth
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Bobby Owsinski's Inner Circle Podcast
Suited For: Songwriters | Producers | Engineers | Audio Entrepreneurs | Industry Professionals
The degree to which this man is an absolute sponge for everything music is quite astonishing. Plugged into the musical matrix, Bobby Owsinski has been at it for decades with a discography that includes names like Jimi Hendrix, Elvis, The Ramones, Frank Zappa, The Who, Pantera, and more.
He has worked on music for motion picture and television, consulted for major audio-related companies and manufacturers, contributed to some of the largest music publications around, and is an accomplished author and educator of a wide range of musical subjects. Bobby is a beast.
His Inner Circle podcast is a hit for anyone in music as he features a wide range of established guests as they cover songwriting, production, business, marketing, social and streaming platforms, and music culture at large.
I’ve personally taken several of Bobby’s courses in the past on Lynda.com and learned tons of recording and mixing essentials.
Bobby publishes frequently and consistently, always keeping up with the latest news that’s relevant to all music pro’s. With such a close eye on all the fundamental areas which effect your life as a professional, you’d be smart to follow Bobby Owsinski to get a grasp on where we’ve been, where we’re at, and where we very well could be going.
Ep. #222 – Spotify Playlists, Martin Audio Sold, & Label Exec Shan Dan Horan. Ep. #184 – Copywrite Small Claims Court, Mixed Reality Audio, & The Recording Academy’s Daryl Friedman.
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Other Record Labels Podcast
Suited For: Songwriters | Industry Professionals
If you’re an independent artist looking how to think optimally about your career or trying to get in the head of your potential gatekeeper, you’ll get tons of milage out of Other Record Labels Podcast.
Host Scott Orr of Other Songs Records goes behind-the-scenes with other successful indie label pros sharing their insights on discovering and developing artists and all the pitfalls along the way.
Here you’ll gain perspective into cultivating a product that is ready for export. Whether you wish to release your music independently or jockey for position for a contract with your dream label, Other Record Labels Podcast will help you think realistically about where you want to go and how to get there.
If you’re thinking about starting your own label or are currently running one, you’ll find a community of like-minded creative entrepreneurs shooting the shit and talking shop about all the ins and outs of the business.
Ep. #11 – Paper Bag Records, Ep. #6 Three Lobed Recordings
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Suited For: Songwriters | Producers | Engineers | Music Fans
Red Bull has been heavily involved in supporting the music scene with inititiatives like the Red Bull Music Academy, live events and now Couch Wisdom.
Intimate one-on-ones with some of the more hipster in the game in front of a live audience discussing the artists history, music production, and culture at large.
They’ve sat with such names as Blood Orange, Young Guru, Boy-1da, Questlove, Kaytranada, Iggy Pop, and Bjork to name only a few.
Couch Wisdom does an excellent job at exposing the everyday-ness of your favourite artists, young and old. With their deep pockets and relevant cultural impact, I’m expecting Red Bull to keep dishing out great content for hustling musicians.
Kaytranada, Drake Producer Boy-1da
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Suited For: Producers
I really like everything these guys are up to. Producer Grind is a platform targeting hip hop producers and beat makers providing tons of professional advice, education, samples and sounds. Their brand slogan “We Help Producers Get To Business” really says it well and I think they do a great job helping elevate the professional mindset of young artists.
Producer Grind runs a successful YouTube channel with 65K+ subscribers where you can find all sorts of tutorials, interviews, and events which include plenty of successful up and coming producers.
Producer Grind now release podcast episodes as consistently as their videos, offering a large catalogue informative interviews with successful producers and beatmakers that will keep you busy for days.
Though their content is directed toward hip hop producers, I’d recommend everybody check it out as they talk about essentials in music and digital marketing that any artist can get tons of value from.
Kato Talks Making $30K Per Month Selling Beats, Producer Marketing, Facebook Ads + More
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Suited For: Songwriters/Bands | Music Fans
Host Jesse Cohen is one half of Brooklyn duo Tanlines and has been hosting No Effects since 2014.
In long-form, free-flowing conversations Jesse talks with some of indie music’s most vibrant voices such as Chromeo, The Killers, Future Islands, Phoenix, Rhye, Local Natives and more.
No Effects digs into everything any up-and-comer wants to hear about: writing, performing, recording, touring, business, relationships…
I get a feeling like No Effects is the perfect “touring bands” podcast. Super relevant for a van full of musicians on-the-run trying keep all the balls in the air.
Episode 106 – Chromeo, Episode 69 – Local Natives
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The Future Of What
Suited For: Songwriters/Bands | Producers | Industry Professionals
The Future Of What offers some essential listening for all musical professionals so be sure to tune in to this one.
Hosted by Portia Sabin of west coast independent record label Kill Rock Stars, The Future Of What serves as a musicians blunt uncle who, with whisky in hand, tells you how it is.
There are many things that effect an artists career with are within and outside the artists control. Here you’ll get a 1000-foot view on where the line is drawn and how to cover your own ass as to not get bit.
Some examples of the topics covered: accounting, data, contracts, Music Modernization Act, Net Neutrality, licensing, radio, DIY…
Episodes are a good hang as much as they are informative. You’ll be sure to get great value and entertainment all for free so be sure to subscribe.
Episode #114: Understanding Contracts, Episode #126: Creative Accounting
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Suited For: Hip Hop Artists | Producers
BlapChap is essentially a recorded hang between Grammy nominated multi-platinum producer !llmind and his friends Atlas The Plug, Perfection, and GLAM.
The show focuses on hip hop culture and careers and has featured names such Jimmy Douglass, Ryan Leslie, Bryan-Michael Cox, and 1Mind.
BlapChat also brings in industry pros from managers, A&R, CEO’s and entrepreneurs in round circle convos to bring you insights on the game. It’s always a great hang and after a few episodes you’ll start to get a good feel for the hosts, as if you’re a part of the crew.
Episode 72 – How To Find A Good Manager, Episode 33 – Jimmy Douglass
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Produce Like A Pro
Suited For: Producers | Engineers | Songwriters
Produce Like a Pro is an online education platform headed by producer-turned-online influencer Warren Huart. While continuing a long and successful career in music production, Warren is now leveraging all the social and streaming platforms to reach a new audience of developing producers and engineers with informative DIY education.
Warren brings tons of audio insights to the table through his years of experience producing acts such as Aerosmith, Korn, The Fray, Ace Frehley, and music for many popular TV series.
Over the years, Warren and his team have really developed their digital marketing skills and have built the Produce Like A Pro platform as a premier online destination for audio production nerds like us. I’d recommend that anyone sign up and subscribe to their content and take note on how consistently they keep their audience educated, entertained, and engaged.
The Produce Like A Pro podcast is like Charlie Rose for music producers, where two established producers discuss the ins and outs of their careers in the music business. You’ll hear about gear, songwriting, engineering, business, culture, and history from industry giants such as Eddie Kramer, Joe Chiccarelli, Ariel Chobaz, Chris Lord-Alge, Dave Pensado, and many more.
PLAP#59 – Eddie Kramer, PLAP #51 – Ariel Chobaz
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Recording Studio Rockstars
Suited For: Producers | Engineers | Audio Entrepreneurs
Lij Shaw is another online influencer in recording and production with a super cool podcast called Recording Studio Rockstars which is a fantastic destination for budding producers and home studio owners.
Since 2015, Lij has been bringing on a wide range of guests with a diverse set of success stories. This is incredibly useful for young producers discovering the hole they wish to fill in the world.
Some guests are Grammy Award-winning mix engineers, some are local studio owners working remotely with international clients, and some are online marketing gurus with tips to help you grow your music production business.
Regardless of your genre, Recording Studio Rockstars is a hit for all music producers and engineers. With over 150 episodes published, you’ll have your ears full for weeks and be much better off than you were before to get the ball rolling for your services.
RSR133 – Femke Weidema – Composing, Producing, and Creating Your Own Record Label, RSR087 – Chris Selim – 9 Tips For Recording, Mixing, And Producing Clients Remotely
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Working Class Audio
Suited For: Engineers| Producers| Audio Entrepreneurs
Since 2014, Working Class Audio is a podcast of recording professionals telling it like it is. Putting the label “working-class” in their title is totally appropriate as they talk with a combination of both elite and unknown engineers about running a music production business, finances, work-life balance, family, and all real world stuff.
Sure you’ll hear from top names like Steve Albini, Eddie Kramer, Joe Barresi and the like, but you may find most value hearing from the unknown up-and-comers who’s struggles are likely more aligned with your own.
Hear engineers talk about how they not only manage to get their studios booked full time but also expand their studio and services altogether. Find out what it’s like to start from the bottom and eventually find yourself hiring a studio manager, building a second or third recording room, adding a film component to your services, etc.
If you’re entrepreneurial in your music career goals or would like to eventually be, Working Class Audio is where you’ll find like-minded professionals offering advice to help you cut off the fat from your journey ahead.
WCA #169 with Ryan Worsley, WCA #165 with Dave Collins
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What are your favourite music podcasts? Do you have a go-to music production podcast that any of our readers could benefit from listening to and belong on this list? Leave your suggestions in the comments below, we’d love to check them out.