Podcasts have become increasingly popular over the past few years, thriving in various fields, including music. They are educational, inspirational, oftentimes slightly addictive, and in many cases will offer you tips on how to find success in the music industry.
We have therefore listed what we think are the best music podcasts you should listen to in 2023. Without further ado, here are the best podcasts for musicians.
1. Song Exploder
Song Exploder is a brilliant podcast, in which its host and producer Hrishikesh Hairway thoroughly explores songs by various artists. Each episode features an artist (and often their key producers, too), who selects one of their songs, dissects it, and tells the story of how it’s been made.
From the first to the last note of the recording, each track is broken down into sounds and ideas that have inspired the creative process of songwriting. At the end of every episode, all sounds come together to present the final adaptation of the song. This way, the listeners can better understand the result of the whole process.
The simple yet intelligent concept behind the podcast is executed wonderfully, with Hairway leading each interview with curiosity and passion. What’s also great is that Hairway doesn’t stick to one specific genre. From Franz Ferdinand to Hans Zimmer, to Jamila Woods to Fleetwood Mac - there’s something for everyone.
As the podcast has met with great success, it was expanded into a Netflix series in 2020. In addition to listening to your favorite artists, you can now watch them in their studios, talking about their music, playing their instruments, and showing how a song has come together.
2. The Zane Lowe Show
After pursuing a career as a radio and live DJ, Zane Lowe came to prominence through presenting on XFM, and MTV Europe, and then hosting a prime-time radio show on BBC Radio 1. In 2015, Lowe was named one of the DJs of Apple Music’s radio station, Apple Music 1, and landed the position of host of the platform’s flagship show called The Zane Lowe Show.
The show is where the magic happens, with Lowe having hour-long conversations with some of the current most prominent musicians. His featured interviews are both amusing and knowledgeable, providing an insight into the artist’s inspirations and the creative process behind their work of art. The reason why we think the show is definitely worth listening to is its emphasis on the emotions, incentives, and influences driving musicians to make their music.
With writing and composing music being rather a complex process, we believe that the show can be a great source of inspiration and motivation for evolving artists. There’s just something great about listening to your favorite artists talk about how and why they’ve made their records the way they did. Additionally, as an insider, Lowe has first-hand experience in the music industry and often has personal relationships with the artists, making the interviews even more interesting.
The only disadvantage of the podcast is that it’s streamed exclusively on Apple Music. Luckily, many of the episodes are also available on YouTube. If you’ve never listened to or watched Zane Lowe’s show before, you can watch the one below and let us know what you think about it in our iMusician Community Forum!
3. The New Music Business with Ari Herstand
Just like the previous examples, the Webby Award-winning podcast The New Music Business, too, is based on interviews with music industry experts. This time, however, the focus is on the business rather than the creative side of the industry. Ari Herstand, the host and author of the bestseller How to Make It in the New Music Business. gets into engaging conversations with producers, booking agents, talent buyers as well as singers and songwriters, to discuss their experience, achievements, and challenges, too.
Together with them, he dives deep into a variety of tools, techniques, and strategies that are to help aspiring musicians to only make not break their own music careers. This makes it the perfect podcast for independent artists that are looking for informative, yet captivating content to help navigate them through the industry’s hurdles and obstacles.
The podcast has been running since 2020 and has so far received widespread recognition. Besides the Webby Award, it has been named by Variety as one of the 10 best music business podcasts of 2022 and by Spotify as ‘n.1 music industry podcast to help keep you in the loop’
4. Switched on Pop
Many have said that it’s not easy to write a good pop song. In fact, there are a lot of ingredients that must go into a pop song to be considered a hit. That’s why the Switched on Pop podcast is dedicated to the making and meaning of popular music. The host, musicologists Nate Sloan, and songwriter Charlie Harding are determined to find out what makes a pop tune a hit and, sometimes, even a timeless sensation.
The episodes are from about 30 minutes to one hour long and pick up on various topics and trends, both former and current, from the world of popular music. The hosts also dive into specific recordings and music pieces as well as the creative techniques of renowned pop artists.
What’s also cool is that the focus is not on particularly known and commercially successful artists. The show aims to empower all kinds of musicians of the pop genre and celebrate the wonderful music they’ve released. This way, we feel, Switched on Pop gives a beautiful tribute to popular music, emphasizing the importance and greatness of the genre and its powerful impact on our culture.
5. All Songs Considered
All Songs Considered by NPR started in 2000 as a multimedia program to provide information and streaming audio about the tracks that were used as bumper music on the channel’s news program, All Things Considered. In 2005, it was turned into a source of discovery for new music of all kinds of genres.
The Show’s creators and producers, Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton dive into new current releases, newly emerging artists, and other music news. Simply, anything new happens in the music world, you will hear about it in All Songs Considered. The 30-minute-long episodes also feature a lot of music and include interviews with both new and established artists, too.
The show boasts itself with podcasting for free so you will find all their episodes only on the website of NPR!
6. Ongoing History of New Music
The Ongoing History of New Music is probably the most educative and documentary-like podcast on our list, covering various fields of music theory, history, and artist profiles. From the history of remixes, through the most prominent piano players to the most significant modern rock feuds, there may actually not be a single topic that wouldn’t be talked about in the show.
The podcast is hosted by a renowned Canadian radio broadcaster, Alan Cross, who passionately explores all corners, highs, and lows of the music industry. The goal is to provide highly informative, yet entertaining content. In fact, Cross is so genuinely interested in each topic that it makes it really hard to resist playing another episode.
7. Rolling Stone: Music Now
The high quality of journalism portrayed in Rolling Stone’s music articles is undoubtful and the magazine’s specialized podcast, Rolling Stone: Music Now, promises nothing less. Hosted by Rolling Stone senior writer, Brian Hiatt, the show dives into the hottest news and biggest stories in the world of music.
The podcast features exclusive artist interviews, expert insights on new releases, thrilling industry stories as well as educative content on music history and careers of former musicians and their impact on today’s music. Very often, the episodes mirror the actual written content pieces published in the Rolling Stone magazine and most episodes show a combination of interviews and conversations led by the main host.
8. The Profitable Musician Show
The Profitable Musician Show hosted by American singer and songwriter Bree Noble is, similar to the New Music Business, focused on all things music business related. The show aims to help musicians to navigate their way in the music industry, giving them the knowledge and skills they need to build a sustainable and profitable music career.
Noble, together with industry experts and specialists, explores topics of music marketing tactics, music monetization, streaming royalties or building an engaged audience, and many more. Her particular focus is on creating multiple various income streams targeting 4 key areas: recording & releasing music; music performing; freelancing as a musician & recurring revenue for musicians. The podcast is therefore the perfect DIY musician podcast for new and independent artists who strive to learn more about the industry and the ways to be successful.
9. Broken Record
First talking, then playing. That’s the concept of the Broken Record podcast, hosted by Rick Rubin, Malcolm Gladwell, Bruce Headlam, and Justin Richmond. In every episode, they are joined by a different musician - who could be well-known, emerging, or an icon - to talk about their craft, their professional life, and the inspiration behind it. Afterward, they sit back to enjoy a beautiful performance by the artist.
The diversity of guests is incredible, not only because it ranges from new, unknown artists to absolute living legends, but also because it features vocalists, guitarists, banjo players, saxophonists, drummers, composers, or producers - simply musicians of all types and kinds.
The interviews with the White Lotus composer, Cristobal Tapi de Veer, a tenor saxophonist Archie Shepp, and Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ guitarist, John Frusciante are just a few beautiful examples of the musicians featured in the show.
10. Tape Notes
Tape Notes is a podcast dedicated to the beauty of music production. Every week, the host John Kennedy sits down together with an artist and their producer(s) to discuss their collaboration and its highlights in the studio.
In over-an-hour-long episodes, they walk the listeners through every stage of their creative process. From getting inspired and beginning to compose the recording, through choosing the style and instrumentation, to getting the details done and completing the release. What’s more, you get a chance to listen to early demos as well as stems from the original session recordings.
Being a whole lot technical, the show provides unique insights into the work and production methods of various artists. You can learn more about creating in studios, embrace different techniques, and get inspired by the rather innovative approaches of certain musicians. The podcast is currently in its 10th season so there are really plenty of artists to learn from.
The last podcast on our list, Bandsplain, has one simple mission: show why music legends have, in fact, become legends. In every episode, the show’s host Yasi Salek invites an expert to explain the hype and genius behind a selected iconic artist or band, and to answer a fundamental question: ‘Why is it that the whole world loves them?’ Additionally, as it’s difficult to show one’s musical genius without actually playing their music, each episode uses a carefully-curated playlist of the artist’s exemplary tracks.
A little warning before you decide to listen to the podcast: the episodes are not particularly short. In fact, some of them stretch over 5 hours or are divided into two parts, which can make it a total of 8-10 hours dedicated to one musician. However, it may take time to explain what’s so great about an artist that they are considered iconic, right?
Just like in the case of Song Exploder, also Bandsplain shows a wonderful variety of artists covered. From U2, through Sheryl Crow, to Nine Inch Nails, to Radiohead - you can select episodes featuring your favorite artists and learn more about their brilliance.
There are hundreds of music podcasts worldwide and we’ve tried to narrow them down into the 11 best ones. From specific genres, through building a successful music career, to learn about new production methods, the podcasts on our list aim to meet all various needs of you, the independent musicians. Are there some other music podcasts that you love? Let us know in our iMusician Community!
Also, if you’re looking for other sources of musical inspiration, information, and knowledge, check out our article about the best music blogs you should be reading in 2023.
All You Need.
All in One Place.
Get tips on How to Succeed as an Artist, receive Music Distribution Discounts, and get the latest iMusician news sent straight to your inbox! Everything you need to grow your music career.