Get caught up on the modern music industry with these 10 podcast episodes!

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The best of The Future of What, a weekly radio program about the music industry for insiders, outsiders, and outliers.

I’ve spent 20 years in music, first as a drummer and singer in the NYC pop/punk band The Hissyfits, then as an artist manager, and then as the owner of the venerable independent record label Kill Rock Stars. In late 2014 I started getting really frustrated with the myth that labels and others in the music industry are just trying to screw artists out of money due to them. I know way too many good people whose whole jobs are centered around trying to help artists make a sustainable living, so I decided to interview those people about what they do and how they do it, and thus The Future of What was born.

If you’re new to the show, our main goal is to educate interested people about various aspects of the music business, including our Music 101 series where we talk about the basics all bands and artists should know. We also talk about current issues that are important to the business. My job here is to introduce you to my 10 favorite episodes, as a little guide or cheat sheet to the show. I hope you enjoy it!

Episode #16: Let the Gatekeepers Speak.

This is a good series where we talk to “gatekeepers” — the people who can open a door for a band at some stage of their career — about how they make decisions on who to let in and who to keep out. Great guests with good stories!

Episode #21: Future of Music Policy Summit.

The keynote speech at the 15th annual Future of Music Summit was my interview with Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs. She’s super interesting and has important stuff to say about how successful artists can give back, as well as an amazing personal story of how she came to be a musician!

Episode #39: Music 101 – Marketing Your Music.

How does a band get attention in today’s overstuffed music marketplace? A very important topic for everyone who is in a band or trying to help a band!

Episode #12: Transparency in Royalty Reporting.

In this episode, we dig deep into the “Fair Music: Transparency and Money Flows in the Music Industry” report presented by the Berklee Institued for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkeeICE). We talk to Panos Panay of BerkleeICE, David Lowery of The Trichordist, Mike Huppe of Soundexchange, and Jeremy DeVine of Temporary Residence. I love this episode because the report was so controversial in the industry and the discussion of it was so interesting. Also David Lowery has been working to educate musicians over at The Trichordist for years now and I just love what he has to say.

Episode #27: MusiCares.

We talk to several people in various jobs in the music industry who have been helped by the MusiCares Foundation. Very moving stories and a great look at the important job this foundation is doing. It’s also useful for musicians to hear that it’s not just medical emergencies that are eligible for assistance! Check this one out so you know what they can do for you if you’re ever in a jam.

Episode #31: Media Roundtable.

Women and girls are one of the fastest growing markets in the music industry.  Fabi Reyna, founder of She Shreds magazine, and Mindy Abovitz, founder of Tom Tom Magazine, lead a fascinating discussion about how it’s not just a good cause to focus on women and girls in music, it’s a good business investment.

Episode #25: 2015 In Review.

This is a fun episode where we celebrate the year in music. We also talk to Kiran Gandhi, former drummer of M.I.A. about her best-of list, activism, and more.

Episode #38: Take Down, Stay Down.

This episode looks at the current call for reform of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by Congress. It’s an important topic for all musicians to understand as it affects musicians’ ability to control their own content, and to earn a fair market royalty for their work.

Episode #9: Is Comedy the New Punk Rock?

In this episode I interview comedians Hari Kondabolu, Amy Miller, and Nathan Brannon about whether comedy has inherited the mantle of punk rock in that anyone can do it, it’s challenging norms, and pushing cultural boundaries.  This episode is just hilarious, totally worth a listen!

Episode #46: Record Labels in the Round.

Are record labels still necessary in 2016?  My answer is yes, and the three other label heads in this roundtable agree. A good episode for people wanting to get an idea of what record labels do — aka what needs to be done for a band. And for those trying to do it themselves without a label, there are a lot of steps, do you know what they all are?


What’s your favorite episode? What’s your favorite music-related podcast? Give your recommendations in the comments below!

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