Podmasters is a weekly column where staff writers Andrea Alfano and Laura Rosenfeld highlight the podcasts you need in your life. Every week, they tackle a new genre, recommending everything from well-known series to little-listened-to-gems that will make you laugh, cry and learn. This week, Laura Rosenfeld spotlights nine music podcasts that will help you better understand why you love the music you do and introduce you to some soon-to-be favorites.
Music and the radio obviously go hand in hand. However, you don't just have to listen to people playing music on the radio, or rather the 21st century version of it, the podcast. Oh no. There's a whole world of music-related content to explore through podcasts no matter what genres you enjoy.
Music is such a personal and often mystifying thing. That's why we need podcasts to explore this through interviews, personal anecdotes and feature stories to try to get to the heart of why we love it so much.
Just as there are radio stations out there — traditional, Internet or otherwise — to suit every musical taste, from the most mainstream to the most offbeat, you will find a music podcast that hits all the right notes for you, whether you like learning about the stories behind your favorite songs or just want to listen to what Snoop Dogg has to say for half an hour.
That also means narrowing it down to the few that you will want to subscribe to will be tough, although not impossible. These nine podcasts provide a solid introduction. Just press play, and let them be music to your ears and your soul.
1. Meet the Composer
There are probably many pieces of music that you know instantly once they begin to play. But if you saw the composers of those works on the street, you might not even recognize them. It's true. The composers of instrumental music often don't receive the same notoriety as Top 40 artists. That's why we need podcasts like Meet the Composer to introduce us to the people making some of the most interesting music around today beyond what you hear come out of your speakers.
Yes, we listen to music because we enjoy it, but there's actually so much more to it than that. Pitch, which just started its third season, dives deep into the effect music has on our lives, from an enigmatic, new rapper's arrival into the New York hip-hop scene to what role a voice plays in a person's identity to why cover songs matter. Pitch's episodes are short (usually around 15 minutes long), but they are incredibly impactful.
3. Song Exploder
A great song speaks for itself. However, great songs also usually have great origin stories. Each installment of Song Exploder spotlights those captivating stories behind beloved songs as told by the artists that created them. Past episodes have featured the Postal Service's Jimmy Tamborello breaking down "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight," Ghostface Killah discussing "The Battlefield" and U2's Bono and the Edge explaining the inspiration behind "Cedarwood Road." Listening to Song Exploder just might make you hear your favorite songs in a whole new way.
4. Snoop Dogg's GGN Podcast
If you've ever seen Snoop Dogg perform or even speak, you know that a whole podcast featuring him riffing with some celebrity guests about everything from music to movies to marijuana has got to be nothing short of entertaining. If not, the podcast's long description that seems to have been written by Snoop D-O double G himself should convince you to spend some time with the hip-hop legend. It's probably the closest you will ever come to feeling high without actually taking a puff.
5. Tiny Desk Concerts
You don't need to go to an arena filled with thousands of people or even your little, local concert hall to hear some great live music. Awesome songs will sound awesome anywhere, even an NPR reporter's desk. NPR Music's Tiny Desk Concerts prove that with every installment of its podcast, available in audio and video formats. In each episode, artists from the Top 40 to college radio arrive at the NPR offices for intimate and heartfelt performances of their most beloved songs. You'll be wishing the likes of John Legend, Jackson Browne and Chvrches would show up to play at your desk, too.
6. KEXP Song of the Day
If you shy away from the mainstream and only dig music from little-known artists, you need to subscribe to KEXP Song of the Day, stat. This new podcast from the Seattle radio station features exclusive in-studio performances and unreleased tracks from indie musicians that are sure to please the hipster in you.
7. Sound Opinions
Are you ready to rock? Then get ready to listen to WBEZ Chicago's rock 'n' roll talk show Sound Opinions. This show has got it all for music fans who keep up with the current hits of today but also those that have an appreciation for the popular music of yesteryear. Each episode features various segments, including reviews of new albums, interviews with music newbies and icons alike, and commentary on everything from artists going solo to songs of the summer to the best albums of 2015 so far. Though this podcast is technically about rock, there really is something for everyone on Sound Opinions, and if there isn't, there probably will be in the next episode.
8. Turned Out A Punk
Punk as it was originally conceived may have died out decades ago, but Damian Abraham is on a mission to keep it alive. In each episode of Turned Out A Punk, Abraham sits down with a special musical guest to talk about this fast-and-loud music-slash-lifestyle. But at the end of the day, this podcast is really about what music moves them and why.
9. Microphone Check
If you call yourself a hip-hop fan, you better be listening to Microphone Check. With A Tribe Called Quest's Ali Shaheed Muhammad and NPR Music Editor Frannie Kelley at the helm, you know you're going to get expert and reliable reporting and commentary from this podcast. Each episode delivers thought-provoking interviews with rookies and greats all hoping to leave their marks on the world of hip-hop.