Have You Heard That (Music) Podcast?

Podcasts have been offering entertainment, news, and intriguing content since 2004. The industry has grown in leaps and bounds. It’s expected to grow even larger in the coming years; there are over 464 million podcast listeners worldwide and is projected to reach 504.9 million in 2024 alone. Podcasting became a billion-dollar industry in 2021. It’s estimated that podcasting ad revenue will hit the $4 billion mark this year. 

There are approximately 4.3 million podcasts with over 170,000 in the music category. Music podcasts cover topics related to music and musicians, which often include reviews, interpretations, new releases, musician interviews, music history, music creation, and music theory. That’s quite a lot to weed through. My goal with this column is to spotlight exceptional music podcasts that run the gamut – rom the historical to humorous, a specific genre or artist, the music business to the latest technology, and everything in between.

What makes me qualified to write about this topic? I’ve been listening to music podcasts for over a decade-and-a-half and hosted Analog Smile, a music interview podcast with a 70-episode run. I chatted with musicians, authors, podcasters, and music industry professionals. Several guests were our very own: Debra Kate Schafer (Managing Editor – The Aquarian) and James Campion (Author – Take a Sad Song: The Emotional Currency of Hey JudeThe Aquarian), as well as Felix Cavaliere (The Rascals), Chip Z’Nuff (Enuff Z’Nuff), Jim McCarty (The Yardbirds, Renaissance, and Box of Frogs), Suzi Quatro, and Jay Jay French (Twisted Sister). 

Music books (fiction and nonfiction) have captivated me for years. In fact, I’ve reviewed many for The Aquarian. Here are three podcasts you should be listening to that fit into this very niche.

Rock is Lit is the first podcast devoted to rock novels. Rock is Lit takes listeners on a quest to find the best rock novels and explore the propulsive energy and raw power of these stories about music, the people who make it, and the characters who love it. 

In each episode, host Christy Alexander Hallberg interviews authors about craft and the musical inspiration behind their work, then brings in music gurus (like super groupie Pamela Des Barres and Danny Goldberg) to add real-world context to the bands or musical periods featured in the novels. Hallberg is the author of the award-winning novel Searching For Jimmy Page from Livingston Press and teaches literature and writing online at East Carolina University. 

The podcast covers a wide range from bestselling and critically acclaimed novels like Dana Spiotta’s National Book Award-nominated Eat the Document, indie press releases, graphic novels, young adult classics, and celebrity rock novels like the legendary Suzi Quatro’s The Hurricane. Lovers of literature and fans of grunge, blues, classic rock, punk, pop, and almost every other rock music subgenre will find something enthralling in each show. 

On a recent Rock is Lit episode, Kelley McNeil discussed her newly released tome, Mayluna, a fabulous book that delves into the intricate connections between a legendary British alternative-rock band, their iconic lead singer, and a woman whose love played a pivotal role in shaping the music of a generation. 

Next is Booked On Rock, a podcast featuring deep-dive discussions of the greatest artists, albums, songs, and moments in rock history with the authors who wrote about them and those who were there when it all happened. 

Booked On Rock is hosted by Eric Senich, a former FM rock disc jockey in Connecticut for over 20 years. Eric’s fascinating dialogues include the likes of producer Tom Werman, Rik Emmett, Liberty DeVitto, Miles Copeland, and Monte A. Melnick. It provides a peek behind the backstage curtain and into the lives of many beloved musicians and music makers. 

A newer installment of the podcast found Semich sitting down with Jeff Apter, author of Don’t Dream It’s Over: The Remarkable Life Of Neil Finn. This is the first biography to focus exclusively on Neil Finn, who wrote many timeless hits for Split Enz and Crowded House. I thoroughly enjoyed the exchange between interviewer and interviewee. (By the way, I need to pick up Apter’s book ASAP.)

Booked On Rock debuted in May 2021 with over 175 thought-provoking and engaging shows. Eric has a knack for interviewing; it’s clear why people open up to him. 

Last, but certainly not least, is the brainchild of Staci Layne Wilson, creator of the Rock & Roll Nightmares horror and true crime book series and director of The Ventures: Stars on Guitars and The Second Age of Aquarius. The Rock & Roll Nightmares Podcast presents interviews with musicians, writers, photographers, artists, and filmmakers. Wilson is an award-winning author, journalist, and filmmaker specializing in rock music history. She has interviewed David Crosby, John Fogerty, Jimmy Page, Joni Mitchell, Rob Zombie, Cherie Currie, and Gene Simmons – to name a few. 

One of the latest chapters of Rock & Roll Nightmares Podcast spotlights Josh Malerman, the bestselling, award-winning author of BirdboxMalorie, and the upcoming Incidents Around the House. He’s also in the long-running rock band, The High Strung, whose song “The Luck You Got” can be heard as the opening theme to the Showtime series Shameless. Josh shares not only his own personal “rock and roll nightmare,” but a killer song, insights to his creative process, influences, love of The Doors, making spines tingle, and much more. Staci’s prowess in music and filmmaking makes her a force to be reckoned with. 

Podcasts are great accompaniments to house cleaning, road trips, or winding down after a long day. Whether you’re new to podcasts or have listened for some time, take a chance on the aforementioned three and experience the magic of music books.