As much as musicians love music, there are times that we don’t necessarily want to be listening to actual music. Everybody needs a break from time to time. So, what better way is there to have a break from music, than to listen to a bunch of other people talking about music? With that in mind, we’ve rounded up some of the best music podcasts out there right now.
There are podcasts covering anything and everything, but as musicians, producers and performers we’re fortunate in that there are hundreds of amazing pods talking about our favourite subject. And, as music lends itself well to the aural format offered by podcasts, there are some real corkers for you to enjoy.
Here we have rounded up 10 essential music podcasts, covering music production, performance and a whole load of nerding out over gear. So, grab your phone, stick on some headphones, and let’s begin…
The best music podcasts right now
1. Song Exploder
Digging into the detail of some of the biggest songs in music history
We’ll start with a personal favourite of ours. Song Exploder launched in 2014 as a quirky pod aimed at choosing a specific song, and then deconstructing it to its component parts and discussing what was found. What made the pod unique was the way in which this in-depth autopsy was – and still is – carried out with the actual creative force behind it offering commentary into their thought process, the techniques employed during recording and the impact it’s had on their lives and careers. Well worth checking out, if only to marvel at the laundry list of big names who have participated, from Tame Impala and Caribou, to Sheryl Crow and Slipknot.
2. Couch Wisdom
Amazing stories from behind the studio door
Think what you like about Red Bull, but its various methods of branching out from being an energy drink into being a sporting and cultural authority have yielded some great results. Couch Wisdom, part of the now-defunct Red Bull Music Academy, invited big names from the worlds of music and production to discuss all manner of topics. Particular favourites include a rare appearance on the couch from late rapper MF Doom, while we also enjoyed hearing from Philip Glass and the effect a period in Paris had on his individual style and direction. Sadly, like the Academy itself, the Couch Wisdom pod is no longer around but there are around 100 episodes still available online which are well worth your time.
3. Tape Notes
The creative process laid out, from start to finish
Tape Notes is an easy recommendation for music producers in particular. The show brings together musicians and producers to explore, reminisce and critique the methods used in producing their art. Far from being a generalist ‘music’ pod, Tape Notes goes big into detail about the specific techniques used, which in itself is a goldmine of advice for anybody learning their craft. A fairly recent episode with DJ Shadow had the man himself going into incredibly specific anecdotes about how he works with samples, giving incredible insight into the creative process of a truly pioneering producer.
4. Appetite for Production
Because we all love talking gear, right?
Musicians are a funny breed in that we spend more time talking about gear we want (but don’t have) than we do talking about most other things. The Appetite for Production podcast is the perfect pod for anybody who has been known to spend hour after hour after hour poring over production forums, magazines and videos eyeing up the final piece of their personal studio kingdom. The presenters manage to find that balance between nerding out and keeping it accessible, and it’s all delivered with good humour and lots of in-jokes.
5. Chasing Tone
A big name in pedals talks big name pedals
One for the guitarists now. The Chasing Tone pod is devised (and paid for) by Wampler, but puts that bias to one side and instead focuses on offering a place for guitarists to learn all manner of tips and tricks around achieving the best tone from their axes. What we like about the Chasing Tone pod is the frequency; new pods are issued almost weekly, and at the last count they were well over 300 episodes in so there’s plenty to be getting on with there.
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6. Drummer’s Resource
Interviews, advice and techniques with a huge back catalogue
While there aren’t a huge number of drum-specific pods out there, which we found quite upsetting, in the Drummer’s Resource podcast there is a superb example of the medium used to its fullest potential. Containing everything from interviews with big names from the stage and session worlds (recent highlights include Daniel Glass, Dennis Chambers and John JR Robinson), to more in-depth analysis of the techniques and skills that will improve your game, there’s plenty here for drummers to enjoy. It’s regularly updated too, with just under 600 episodes already published.
7. The Guitar Hour
Weekly show goes deep into the craft of guitar playing
For some, the guitar is the tool with which you can make any genre of music. For a small band, however, the guitar is the music. The Guitar Hour pod caters for the players chasing total mastery of the instrument. If that sounds intimidating, it needn’t. Presenters David Beebee, Tom Quayle, Dan Smith and Jake Wilson all bring something different to the table, and make potentially dry, hardcore guitar subjects relatable to players of all abilities.
8. Why We Bleep
A must-listen for fans of electronic music-making
If you’ve ever tried dabbling in modular synthesis, you’ll know it comes with one of the steepest learning curves in music. Thankfully, in Why We Bleep there is a superb pod discussing the intricacies of those flashy, bleepy, wire-strewn machines responsible for the more esoteric strands of electronic music. Mylar Melodies, he of amazing YouTube channel fame, presents the pods and strikes a nice balance between technical wizardry and genuine enthusiasm to discuss the inner workings of electronic music with his guests.
9. Hanging Out With Audiophiles
Tips and tricks from an industry veteran
With 14 years on a cult record label under his belt, you’d be right for thinking Jamie Lidell has some stories to tell. Hanging Out With The Audiophiles is very much, in our opinion, a music production podcast for grown-ups, covering everything from writing to performing music. We like the blend of stories and insight from some of the unsung heroes behind the mixing desks, and Jamie’s style is welcoming, warm, and comes from a place of great insight.
10. Unstoppable Recording Machine
Rock & metal flavoured pod with amazing guests
One for the metalheads to round us off. The Unstoppable Recording Machine pod is a long-running favourite of ours, focusing more on music from the heavier end of the spectrum. Presenters Eyal Levi, Joey Sturgis and Joel Wanasek bring together a stellar line-up of guests; not always big names, but always with amazing stories to tell. Rather than delving deep into specific technical discussions over studio gear and equipment, URM (as it’s known) instead chooses its guests wisely and its line of questioning is always insightful for anyone looking to get into the industry.