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5 Best Podcasts for Musicians

2018 was a year of internal work for me, and it was the year I discovered the world of podcasts. The podcast phenomena started about ten years ago so I'm late to the party, but glad that I'm finally here, and I want to share this world with you because it has had such an impact on my mindset, creativity, and initiated action I have taken.


One year ago, I was seeking information about the music business and I built a strong educational foundation by joining www.narip.com (National Association of Recording Industry Professionals) and listening to dozens and dozens of their music supervisor sessions (music supervisors find and pitch music to directors for television and film). Through the NARIP sessions, I discovered Cathy Heller, the super successful 7-figure+ songwriting queen of music sync placements. A music supervisor was discussing her as an amazing, DIY self-made success story. Although I had originally thought she was another person that could help me learn about how to succeed in the music business, I discovered she had a podcast, "Don't Keep Your Day Job," which was the catalyst to all other podcasts for me. Discovering "Don't Keep Your Day Job" was truly life changing. I'm the type of person that is forever seeking knowledge and "life hacks" so listening to Cathy's podcast and eventually many others of which a few are listed here, was a productive way to fill up the time during my long commutes to my university. The podcasts listed below sparked many of my ideas.
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While I'm a regular listener to about a dozen podcasts, here are my top 5 for musicians: 

1. "Don't Keep Your Day Job" with Cathy Heller - Cathy is your BFF who encourages you to do MORE of what you love and especially cheers on folks taking their side hustle to the next level. Music-making often feels like a side hustle as most of us take on other jobs to support our music. Cathy's podcast is chockfull of strategies and realistic, actionable steps. Her message has a strong emphasis on self-care and the deep internal work needed to get there. She demonstrates this message at the meta-level as her podcast (which itself started as a side hustle) is now turning into another huge business for her with inspirational workshops and a YouTube channel. She has a unique following that includes many musicians but she speaks to all creative entrepreneurs with love, realism, and empathy.
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2. "DIY Musician" with Kevin Breuner and Chris Robley - This CD Baby-produced podcast is by far the most practical and up-to-date informational resource about strategies for success in the music business for the touring band, the singer-songwriter, the music producer/composer, and those interested in sync music licensing in tv and film. They often addresses the overall status and issues concerning the music industry. Kevin and Chris are both accomplished, working musicians navigating the evolving music business themselves, and share their experiences in a friendly, humble, accessible, and often humorous way that always leaves me feeling excited to be a musician. They have a huge following and popular annual conference that I'm determined to attend someday!
The biggest takeaway--no longer do you need to sign with a record label to be successful. Musicians have much more control over their careers now.
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3. "Happier" with Gretchen Rubin - Gretchen Rubin is the author of multiple books, including, "The Happiness Project," "The Four Tendencies" (P.S. I'm a "Questioner"), and her upcoming book, "Outer Order, Inner Calm," all of which deal with creating the best life possible. A happy one! She hosts her podcast with her sister, Liz Craft (a TV writer), and honestly, their sisterhood is so charming and they could not be more different in personality, it's possible that I just might be drawn to this podcast because of their relationship. But the truth is, it's all of the little habits, the little tweaks, the little observations, and the little reactions that we can make in our lives that add up to significant change. As musicians, these changes can lead us to success by helping to understand ourselves and importantly, improve our interpersonal relationships. Repeat. Interpersonal relationships.
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4. "Broken Record" with Malcolm Gladwell and Rick Rubin - This is a fairly new music podcast that every musician needs to know about. I mean, it's Malcolm Gladwell and Rick Rubin...need I say more? The conversations between the two and sometimes interviewees, are a look at firsthand accounts into various monumental moments in popular music history, from Rubin's work with Johnny Cash to Tom Petty, and Malcolm's interview with some of Nashville's most famous songwriters. Broken Record reminds us musicians that we are part of a living history and there's a lot to glean from these stories that we can appreciate and sometimes apply to our own journeys.
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5. The Gary Vee Audio Experience - Anybody wanting to get "fired up" need only find Gary Vaynerchuk, AKA Gary "Vee," the insanely successful entrepreneur who's finger is on the pulse of everything business and marketing. What musicians need to learn sooner rather than later, is that creating their music is only 50% of the process. The rest is business. If your goal is to be in the music business, meaning, that you want to make money from your music, then you must treat yourself like a business and your music as a product. If this offends you as an artist, then just make art for yourself. This isn't necessarily Gary's message, but it's important to understand that you have to think and act like an entrepreneur if you are to succeed in the music business. Musicians are inherently entrepreneurs. That is why I highly recommend this podcast.
While Gary's content is invaluable for all entrepreneurs, I think that what attracts me most is his drive, attitude, and self-discipline. There is something about his work ethic that as a classically-trained musician, I get it. I'm drawn to it. I would first recommend "Daily Vee," Gary's YouTube channel, which I listened to like a podcast, but his "Audio Experience" is the same content with some intervening breakdowns. 
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What podcasts would you add to this list? Let me know what you think!
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There are many paths that a career-driven musician can take, but true success relies on a parallel path of self-growth which requires working on all areas of your life, not just practicing your instrument. Whether the path be music performance, music composition/production, music scholarship, or music education, we need additional mentors and models for strategy and inspiration. I wouldn't be creating without the sparks I get from the content listed above.

1 comment

  • I love your list and I would add “Creative Pep Talk” with Andy J Pizza! He’s an illustrator and as a filmmaker, I get so much out of his creative pep talks!! Love love love that Podcast.

    Lisa

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