Updated: May 20, 2020
Here’s the thing: I LOVE podcasts. More accurately, I adore them. I mean, who doesn’t at this point? They’re a wonderful way to explore interests, gain insight into our professional spheres, catch up on current events, work on personal development, or just hear great conversations, stories, and new ideas. We’re living in the golden age of podcasts right now, which is fantastic, but this also means it can be hard to know which ones are worth our time and attention. I don’t know about you, but I can easily become overwhelmed when trying to determine which shows are the best in a given discipline. So, in an attempt to serve up some podcast inspiration to my professional singer community, I’ve compiled this short list of shows I’ve found helpful as I continue to hone my freelance/portfolio career as well as my singing craft.
Passive Income Musician with Brent Vaartstra If you are interested in generating any sort of passive income as a musician, such as writing an E-book or creating an E-course, this is the podcast for you. Brent shares his own experience with creating a career built around passive income in a way that clearly lays out the path for creating this kind of content yourself. He also addresses skills such as building an audience, finding your “why,” and so much more. Even if you have never considered pursuing passive income avenues as part of your career, this podcast can provide plenty of great ideas and information you just might be looking for.
The Freelance Hustle with Alisha Tova I’m new to this podcast, but I really like what I’ve heard so far. Host Alisha Tova interviews a variety of freelance creatives to address the ins and outs of building a business from scratch. Her perspective centers around life as a freelance photographer, but the principles she shares and draws out of guests apply to all who are either exploring going freelance or already in the trenches. Check out the first episode of season 3 to learn about recovering from setbacks and discovering your unique skills.
The Bulletproof Musician with Noa Kageyama If you’re not familiar with Noa Kageyama’s work yet, be ready to have your world ROCKED. Noa’s research centers around assisting musicians with issues such as performance anxiety, enhancing practice sessions, and streamlining performances. After finding great success as a violinist, Noa still wasn’t satisfied with his ability to perform in front of audiences. So, he decided to enter the field of psychology in order to study performance anxiety. He has now combined his wealth of knowledge in both music and psychology to create The Bulletproof Musician. His podcast offers both full-length episodes featuring in-depth interviews with industry experts as well as shorter episodes with helpful tips or new research findings. Even if you don’t find the content compelling, Noa’s incredibly soothing voice is sure all by itself to cure your performance anxiety. It’s a great one to listen to right before a big concert. If you enjoy the content in this podcast, be sure to check out his blog by the same name.
Work Life with Adam Grant from TED Okay, this Podcast is not specifically geared towards musicians or freelance/self-employed individuals in general, but there is a cornucopia of helpful information, ideas, and the latest work-psychology research available from this podcast. All of the content in this show will help you streamline your work life, however unique or everyday-ish it may be. Certain episodes deal specifically with issues related to self-employment. Check out Season 1, Episode 7: “A World Without Bosses” for a closer look at some of the pitfalls of working for yourself.
Aria Code from WQXR and The Metropolitan Opera As singers, it’s so important to have outlets we regularly go to for artistic inspiration. Aria Code can provide just that. The podcast professionalism displayed in this program expertly invites listeners in and sheds light on some of the hidden and lesser-known details behind our favorite operas and arias. You’ll learn more about your singing craft and gain some deep artistic inspiration at the same time. One of my favorite episodes (Season 2, Episode 3) features a closer look at Philip Glass’s Akhnaten (now my latest opera obsession). Do yourself a favor and check it out!
How I Built This with Guy Raz from NPR Another fabulous show not specifically oriented towards the working musician, How I Built This provides the insider information on startups we all desperately need. I love learning from other disciplines. I find I often gain the greatest inspiration when taking time to listen to ideas outside my own little niche community. In this show, Guy interviews some of the most successful entrepreneurs of our lifetime to find out what steps and strategies brought them to where they are today. You can always learn something new and get amazing ideas and inspiration from this podcast.
Opera After Dark This is another show I’ve just started listening to, but I’m in love with what I’ve heard so far. It’s a great one for hearing quality conversation about a subject we all love: opera. Co-hosts Naomi, Elspeth, and Kyle provide a great blend of musicology, current events, and humor to teach us more about the opera tradition and craft. Check out their latest episode (#122) to hear some fascinating information on Carl Maria von Weber. Also worth noting is Episode #121, featuring a conversation about continuing opera in the midst of a world crisis.
Unlocking Us with Brené Brown This may seem like a strange choice to include in a list of helpful podcasts for singers, but hear me out. Mental, emotional, and relational health should be a top priority for every aspect of our lives, including our careers. If my house isn’t in order, I can’t focus on producing great art. Creative and self-employed lifestyles are full of stress and emotional pitfalls. We absolutely need a source to go to in order to learn how to take care of our minds and hearts. If you’re not familiar with Brené Brown’s work yet, just prepare yourself. You will be changed and challenged by what she has to offer, and your creative life is about to blossom in ways you can’t even imagine.
Typology with Ian Morgan Cron The reasoning for including this masterpiece of a podcast can be found above. Guys, I cannot stress this enough: As artists, we absolutely have to know who we are and get our own houses in order. Typology discusses ideas and concepts around the Enneagram. If you’re unfamiliar with this powerful self-actualization tool, give a listen to Typology and do some reading on it as soon as you can. Wondering why you resist change and growth as an artist? Can’t figure out what holds you back from getting into a healthy practice routine? Puzzled as to why you consistently butt heads with a fellow artist or coworker, blocking the creative flow you both need? You can find so many answers to these kinds of personal growth questions through discovering your Enneagram number and learning how to use it as a tool for your life and relationships. This podcast can help you do just that.
Life Kit: Money from NPR This is another new one to me, but I’m very interested in what it has to offer. As freelancers, artists, and portfolio career individuals, we can really benefit from receiving expert advice on money matters. With this podcast, you’ll find quality tips and conversations about handling student loan debt, raising your credit score, making wise investments, and so much more. The episodes are fairly short, so the stressful world of finances seems much more manageable when receiving help in small doses. Something else I love about this show is that trusted NPR label. This assures me the advice being given in show interviews is reliable, as it comes from vetted, revered experts.
So, there you have it! I hope this list is helpful to you and provides some inspiration for your creative life. What are some of your favorite podcasts that help you find the answers and inspiration you need as a working artist? I’d love to hear what you’ve been listening to lately. Let me know in the comments below. Happy podcasting!