FEATURE: Everyone’s Doing It These Days: Why Podcasts Offer a New Window Into Music




Everyone’s Doing It These Days


ALL PHOTOS (unless credited otherwise): Getty Images 

Why Podcasts Offer a New Window Into Music


YOU cannot move too far on the Internet…


before you bump into another podcast about something or other! I think the forum has overtaken YouTube in terms of demand and popularity. Whilst YouTube ‘stars’ garner a lot of fans and can bring their brand – beauty, film or otherwise – to people in a multimedia way; there is something easier and more intimate about the podcast. You do not need to hire a lot of recording equipment and film yourself – some are quite reserved about having their face out there – and you can create a sense of intimacy and warmth. The listener need not break off from what they are doing and see what is happening on the screen. An article I will quote in a bit states the voice-activated market will double by the year 2020 – it will double every year after that. We are seeing more inventions where a user can bring up information and play music by voice command. It seems we want that hands-free and easy lifestyle more and more. Studies conducted earlier this year break down our listening habits when it comes to podcasts. Whilst thirty-two percent of us listen (to podcasts) whilst working out; most of us enjoy one when we are commuting or driving. It seems the best way to endure a journey among the general public is to put a podcast on and drift away. There is a great distraction plugging in earphones and listening to a podcast about literature, music or film.

Unlike an audiobook; one does not need to engage too much and it is possible to browse a tablet or Smartphone whilst listening along. That benefit strikes many and, in a market packed and growing; there is no shortage of choice – no matter what your tastes are! This article provides some eye-opening statistics:

    60% of the US population is familiar with the term “podcasting” up from 55% in 2016

        50% of all US homes are podcast fans (Nielsen, Aug 2017)

       40% (112 million) of the US population has listened to a podcast up from 36% in 2016

         15% (42 million) listen to podcasts weekly up from 13% in 2016

        36% of podcast listeners are non-white vs 30% in 2010 (Nielsen, Aug 2017)

        Podcast listeners are much more active on every social media channel (94% are active on at least one vs 81% for the entire population)

         Podcast listeners are more likely to follow companies and brands on social media

       Podcast listeners are more likely to subscribe to Netflix or Amazon Prime (meaning they are less likely to be exposed to TV advertising)

It seems like technology companies are taking full advantage of the growing trends. One of the hand-in-hand trends we are seeing is voice-activated devices – the likes Amazon and Apple have/are making – being a big asset alongside the podcast.

The Smartphone means we can bring up a podcast – even if we do not know the name – without much fuss or searching. Because of the ease in which we can listen to podcasts and explore new ground; many are turning away from video streaming and engaging more with audio means. I recently discovered the Fortunately… podcast – hosted by Jane Garvey and Fi Glover. It is a series designed to reveal what is said when the microphone is switched off – aimed more at women but heard by a lot of men. It is a funny and addictive podcast I tune into every week. They interview guests each week – including the likes of Shaun Keaveny and Emily Maitlis – and give a very candid look into their own lives. You feel bonded with the presenters and get to hear a different side to some well-known figures. It is weird discovering why we are more likely to listen to a podcast than watch a video or T.V. show. There is that accessible nature and the fact we can listen to a podcast on-the-go and do a number of other things at the same time. Podcasts are, essentially, radio so it means those who make them do not have to dress up fancily and worry too much about presentation. Inhibitions are lowered and there seems like a more relaxed and casual tone. That translates and resonates in the subscriber.


IMAGE CREDIT: Getty Images

Carry on with the article I just quoted and it seems like there is a booming market and we can all start out own podcast:

Entrepreneurship mogul Gary Vaynerchuk summarises as follows: “Just remember, audio and voice are by far the most natural interface for humans to interact. We like to speak and listen. There was roughly 1.5X more audio consumed than video according to Nielsen statistics on streaming in 2016. This is HUGE. If you’re medium is voice, now is your time. Start creating today. Start a podcast, turn your blog posts into audio, develop an Alexa skill or start experimenting with Google Home. Before AR and VR and AI, audio is going to be the next major platform shift for consumer attention. It’s here today! What are you going do?

The podcast is an eclectic market that can act as education and teaching. Children can listen to podcasts about subjects they are taught at school which provides a more appealing sense of extra-curriculum. We can become better educated or we can go for something a bit trashy and throwaway. The music side of the podcast is starting to grow and attract some big names. I recently pitched an idea for a podcast: one that looked at sex and gender imbalance in the industry and how we can change things. It could/will bring together names across music and figures from outside the business to give their thoughts.

My idea – not sure of a title yet – would play music by female artists and balance serious talk and debate with interview snippets and a more light-hearted viewpoint. Maybe it would be a multi-part podcast but, as a one-off, it would work pretty well. I have been thinking about the podcast as an alternative for a radio show. It is easier getting a podcast kicked off and putting it to the people. This article from Rolling Stone highlights some music-related podcasts worth investigating. Among them worth investigating is Jessie Ware’s bi-weekly podcast:

Format: Jessie endearingly banters back and forth with her mother, Lennie, and guests, mostly about cooking. “It all revolves around food, my favorite subject, and family,” Jessie says. “I hope the listener feels like they are around the dinner table with us and learns something new about someone they may already know lots about, or even better, be introduced to someone I want everyone to know about.”

Schedule: Biweekly

Why They Do It: “It was a chance for me to ask other people questions,” Jessie says. “I’m so sick of talking about myself. It was also a chance to hang out with my mum and get her to cook me dinners every week. I think I pushed her over the edge when we had four guests in a row, though. She had to go and see her chiropractor.”

Best Moments: Ed Sheeran proclaiming his distaste for kale and “American-boiled” hotdogs and Sam Smith explaining how quitting drinking has helped him chill.

Best Guests: “My mum fell in love with [Get Out‘s] Daniel Kaluuya and [Game of Thrones’] Joe Dempsie over the podcast, Sam Smith told us he thought Mexico was in Spain, Ed Sheeran had four portions, and Sandi Toksvig encouraged us all to add a woman to Wikipedia because there aren’t enough on there,” she says.

Another recent article lists some essential music podcasts you need to get involved with. A standout, Couch Wisdom, steps out and shows an untapped area of the music market:

Red Bull Music Academy has accumulated a vault full of incredible lectures from two decades of workshops and music industry events. Now, they're sharing them one by one as part of a new podcast called Couch Wisdom. Featuring in-depth conversations covering all sides of the music industry, the series includes lectures from the likes of Q-Tip, Kaytranada, Alex Tumay, and Bjork. Questlove once dubbed the series "Inside The Actor's Studio for music," which is an excellent way to describe the smart, nuanced conversations that go down on the RBMA couch. If you're a music nerd looking to know more about the ins and outs of the industry, Couch Wisdom is required listening”.

It appears that people want to learn more about a musician or the industry itself. George Ezra is another artist with his own podcast and, whilst it is not the most enflamed and exciting thing; he interviews other artists and creates something we do not hear – musicians chatting and finding out more about one another. A simple interview series/question-and-answer welcomes people in and is a very easy-going and informative platform. Doing something more expansive and eclectic could either bring in a traditional radio station – music and interviews – or go further still.

It seems there are a few different types of podcasts we all love. For those who love their music; we either like to hear something in-depth that deconstructs songs or investigates various sides and trends. Whether it is the rise of Hip-Hop or the changing nature of Pop music; speaking with artists and experts about these subjects illuminates and opens up the subjects. We also like podcasts with discussion and something revealing from artists. Mix that with live performances and we have a bit of a podcast-style radio show that offers an alternative to what is currently out there. It seems we have a passion for music past and present: a magazine-type podcast that looks at iconic moments and the best of the new breed. It seems like, to get ahead of the market, you need to combine the best elements of the current market and add your own spin. There is a dizzying choice so it seems like it is harder, now more than ever, to decipher which are the best podcasts to follow. The voice-activated devices I mentioned early could incorporate a new feature that brings in a search engine – you can describe the type of podcast you want and it will find it (or several). I am excited to see the market grow and so many great music-related podcasts come through. Many people I know are putting them together and it is an inexpensive and great way of reaching new audiences.


With social media packed and limited in its scope; it seems the podcast could be an essential accompaniment every artist should carry. By that, I mean they could put together their own one and add an extra dimension to their music. Maybe they interview fellow artists or invite the subscriber into their lives. Maybe there is a slight deficiency whereby you cannot see the musician and a performance but there are endless possibilities when it comes to subject matter and the tone of a podcast. I am going to start my own and make sure I do my research first – to ensure I do not copy any others and create something fresh. The podcast revolution is in full flow and it is getting more people invested and interested in audio and radio. People who would otherwise have avoided certain subjects –politics, women’s issues and art – are given a new perspective and way in. It is great to see a lot of musicians go into the podcast market and a flourishing array of music-related podcasts come out. Have a search and spend some time looking through what is currently out there. If you love your music and want a podcast that speaks to you; I can guarantee there is something out there that will…

SPEAK to you.