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The Future of What

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A weekly radio program about the music and recording industry for insiders, outsiders, and outliers. Each week our host, Kill Rock Stars president Portia Sabin, talks to guests ranging from musicians to business experts.

A weekly radio program about the music and recording industry for insiders, outsiders, and outliers. Each week our host, Kill Rock Stars president Portia Sabin, talks to guests ranging from musicians to business experts.
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Portland, OR


A weekly radio program about the music and recording industry for insiders, outsiders, and outliers. Each week our host, Kill Rock Stars president Portia Sabin, talks to guests ranging from musicians to business experts.








Merlin Works Magic For Indies

Episode #163 : For the last eleven years, Merlin has been championing the independent music community in a variety of ways. During that time the organization has put over two billion dollars into the pockets of indie labels and distributors, through its negotiated deals with DSP’s like Spotify, et. al., and the organization is only continuing to grow its reach internationally. On this episode, we talk to Charles Caldas, the man at the helm of Merlin for the past eleven years, along with...


The Current State of Music Journalism

In previous episodes, we’ve discussed the diminished role that music criticism plays in today’s market, and now we’re turning our focus towards music journalism at large. With more and more magazines and newspapers going out of business, writers find themselves with even fewer publishing options, and they’re being forced to look for work outside of the music industry. Join us this hour as we cover this topic with journalists, PR folks, and band managers, and talk about what comes next for...


Indie Label Spotlight: Crunchy Frog

Episode #161 : Denmark’s Crunchy Frog has been releasing albums for a quarter century this year, and they are celebrating their anniversary with a new compilation of music from the label’s roster, that’s being released in tandem with a variety of specialty beverages to commemorate the occasion. Listen in as label head, Jesper "Yebo" Reginal, talks about the origins of the label, and its successes with international crossover hits from bands like Junior Senior and The Raveonettes, while...


How Streaming Royalties Are Calculated

Episode #160 : At this point, we all know that streaming royalties have become a larger and larger share of revenue within the music industry, but how those royalties are calculated by DSP’s is still somewhat of a mystery to artists, labels, and consumers. For example, why doesn’t your $9.99/mo. only go to the artists you’ve streamed that month? And, why do the per-stream rates fluctuate so much, based on time of day, the specific plan you’re on, etc.? On this episode, we talk to Vickie...


House Shows & Non-Traditional Venues

With more and more venues shutting down due to rising costs in metropolitan areas, some musicians are looking towards non-traditional venues, and people’s homes, as a means to an end. On this episode, we talk with the founder of the Undiscovered Music Network, a service that pairs musicians with willing home concert hosts, and Amber Sweeney, a singer/songwriter who’s recently done several house shows as part of her tour route. Rounding out the episode, we talk about the non-traditional venue...


Team Dresch's Timely Return

Episode #158 : The world has changed quite a bit since the Pacific NW queercore outfit Team Dresch released their first full-length album 25 years ago. There was no internet, there weren’t any openly gay people running for president, and there weren’t nearly as many corporations sponsoring pride festivals. While the band never truly broke-up, they have returned to the public eye after announcing a few reissues and a short U.S. tour schedule. As If that wasn’t enough to re-establish their...


Indie Label Spotlight: Herø Records

Episode #157 : Given the success of films that have been adapted from comic books and graphic novels, it makes sense that other industries would start adopting them, too, and Herø Records is doing just that. Blending the worlds of music and graphic art into a transmedia experience, Herø Records, has released several singles, EPs and more that are all tied to comics in some shape or fashion. On this episode, we speak with the CEO (Matt Medney) and Creative Director (Pete Russo) of Herø...


Digital Attribution For Musicians

Episode #156 : Thousands of hours of content are uploaded to sites like YouTube, SoundCloud, TikTok, Facebook, etc. every minute, and a fair amount of it contains unlicensed music. Technologies like YouTube’s “Content ID” system can help rights holders find offending usages once they’re uploaded, but not all sites have that kind of functionality, and certain uses are so short that the current tech can’t find them. Thankfully, there are several third party services stepping into the market to...


Manage Your Music With DISCO

Episode 155 : Record labels, music supervisors, management companies, et. al. deal with high volumes of music submissions on a daily basis, and until recently, managing those files (and their requisite metadata) hasn’t been easy. Enter DISCO, a cloud based storage solution for music professionals, that combines the best parts of iTunes, Soundcloud, Dropbox and MailChimp all in one easy to use browser based application. On this episode, we talk to Karl Richter of Level Two Music about the...


Article 13's Potential Impact On The Music Industry

Episode #154 : While little attention was given by the U.S. population at large, the creative class, and musicians in particular, paid close attention to the wars waged over the EU’s new copyright directive, known colloquially as Article 13. Although is has yet to be ratified, and passed into law by its member states, Article 13 has the potential to close the “safe harbor” loophole for UGC giants like YouTube, Soundcloud, etc., which would make them wholly responsible, and liable, for all...


Demo Listening Roundtable w/ DJ Klyph, Public Display PR and McMenamins

Episode #153 : Perennially popular at music business conferences, “demo” listening roundtables can be extremely helpful and informative for artists, labels, and others, since you get direct and immediate feedback from gatekeepers within the industry. On this episode, we asked three Portland professionals to bring in a new favorite track of theirs, that they’ve received as a solicited or unsolicited demo, for one of their outlets. At the table for this discussion are DJ, radio host, and...


Kids Music and Smart Speakers

Episode #152 : As smart speakers, like the Amazon Dot and Google Home, take up residence in more homes across the U.S., kids’ music has seen an unexpected uptick in its overall consumption, mostly due to the agency imparted to children via voice activated technologies. On this episode, we explore this trend with the president of Kidz Bop, Vic Zaraya, along with Grammy nominated singer/songwriter, Lori Henriquez, and senior Wired staff writer, Adrienne So.


Get Paid : Sync Licensing and Brand Partnerships

In the final installment of the Get Paid series (in collaboration with Vortex Music Magazine), Portia discusses sync licensing and brand partnerships with Brett Byrd of CD Baby, Marissa Hernandez of Marmoset, and Scott Wagner of WagsWorks. Do you want to know if your music sync-able, or how to make sure that music supervisors can find your music among thousands of songs when a request comes in? Listen in, and then go get paid! Guests: Brett Byrd (CD Baby) Marissa Hernandez (Marmoset) Scott...


Shaking Up Distribution

Episode #150: The landscape of independent distribution is rapidly changing. As more independent labels move toward truly independent distribution models, their market share becomes clearer. On this episode, we talk to Chris Welz of Secretly Distribution, Kevin Breuner of CD Baby, and Jim Mahoney of Merlin.


Making Good on Representation

Episode #149: Last year, the music industry came under fire for an ongoing lack of meaningful representation for women. What's different in 2019? On this episode we hear about efforts toward greater diversity and inclusion from leaders across the industry, including Michele Ballantyne (RIAA), Richard Burgess (A2IM), and Terri Winston (WAM).


Demystifying A&R with Katie Garcia, Tom Whalley, and Tunji Balogun

Episode #148: What is the role of A&R in 2019? We break down the ins and outs of signing new (and established) talent with Katie Garcia, who oversees A&R for Secretly Group (Dead Oceans, Jagjaguwar, & Secretly Canadian) as well as her own label, Bayonet. We also look back at our conversation with A&R great Tom Whalley, whose signees have included everyone from Bonnie Raitt to Tupac. Plus, hear from RCA executive Tunji Balogun about how data informs A&R today.


2019 Trends in Music

Episode #147: From AI to to the EP, we discuss trends and innovation in the music industry. First, journalist Cherie Hu shares a few music tech developments to look out for in 2019. Then, Jon Chattman explains his recent article "How the EP Killed the LP Star." Finally, Eric "Skippy" Mueller of Pirate's Press updates us on what's happening in vinyl. Produced by Will Watts and Anna McClain. Engineered by Brent Asbury at Beta Petrol.


Copyright 101

Episode #146: One of the least talked about and perhaps most important topics for musicians to understand is copyright. What is it, how do you copyright your music, and what’s the point of doing so? On this episode, we cover the basics of copyright with IP lawyer Peter Vaughan Shaver and musician Simon Tam. We also hear from Jessica Sobhraj, CEO of Cosynd, a platform created for creators to protect their work. Produced by Will Watts and Anna McClain. Engineered by Brent Asbury at Beta Petrol.


Indie Label Spotlight: Alligator Records

Episode #145: In 1971, Bruce Iglauer founded Chicago-based indie blues label Alligator Records. For the last 48 years, Bruce and his team have released hundreds of albums by some of the world’s most celebrated contemporary blues artists. On this episode, Bruce recounts five decades in the business and gives us a taste of what’s next for Alligator. Cutting edge talent Selwyn Birchwood also joins us to talk about his work with Alligator and more. Produced by Will Watts and Anna McClain....


Get Paid: Booking, Touring, Promoting

In our latest installment of the Get Paid series (in collaboration with @vrtxmag), artists and business people share their real-life experiences and advice for booking, promoting and touring. Featuring: Eli Howard - Brass Tacks Scott Gilmore + Sarah Vitort - Fox and Bones Dominik Schmidt - Rola Music Jennifer Carrizo - Talent Buyer, Crystal Ballroom Nicholas Harris - Soul'd Out Productions