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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.








Trends for 2020

After several years of growth, the music business no longer feels like its in freefall, and some hopeful industry insiders are hinting that the best is yet to come in the 2020’s. As streaming goes global, and the overall adoption rate goes up across the board, continued revenue growth will be the norm in 2020 and beyond, which is to say nothing of the new ways that music is being monetized in video games, short form video, and more. Join us as we hear 2020 projections from Vickie Nauman of...


The Evolution of Streaming

Today’s streaming market is a crowded arena that’s chock full of big brands, all of whom are vying for the same monthly subscribers, but none of them have truly distinguished themselves from the other. Yes, they all have different visual interfaces and apps, and some are even offering higher bitrates, but as listeners switch over to voice activated listening via smart speakers, how will users know the difference between Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, etc. when the interaction becomes purely...


Best of 2019

With 2019 coming to an end, it feels like the right time to highlight a few of our audience’s most listened to episodes and of the year, so we’re doing a best of 2019 this week! We went through this year’s stats, and isolated the top ten episodes of the year, and then culled the most informative and/or interesting interviews from that bunch. Listen in as we revisit our interviews with writer Cherie Hu, former Merlin CEO Charles Caldas, and Bayonet Records owner Katie Garcia.


New Tools For Developing Artists

While some artists are eschewing the traditional label route to market, there is no getting around the fact that artists simply can’t do everything they need to do in order to be successful on their own. Most developing artists need help with marketing, branding, social media strategy, booking, publishing, content creation and more, if they’re going to breakthrough the din of digital noise. On this episode, we speak with Chelsea Cressman (AGD Entertainment) and Cameo Carlson (mTheory) about...


Direct Shot's Ambigous Future

Episode #170 : At the beginning of the year, record stores big and small started noticing a difference between what they ordered and what they received in the mail. This became all the more noticeable when stores were shorted important and highly sought after titles for Record Store Day in April. Since then, the problem has only gotten worse according to some, and bands have missed their street dates entirely in the process, costing them countless dollars, but also chart positions, which...


New Ideas In The Digital Marketplace

In the past, digital start-ups frequently approached the music industry with tech solutions to problems that didn’t exist for most artists and labels. That paradigm has seemingly shifted in the past few years, and now the solutions being brought forth by tech companies are helping to alleviate certain stresses and strains on the music industry. On this episode, we’re highlighting new tech companies like Ursa Music, Corite, and Pitch who are creating new revenue streams for artists and...


Indie Label Spotlight - Frenchkiss Records

Twenty years ago, Syd Butler started Frenchkiss Records, after his band Les Savy Fav couldn’t find a home at the prominent labels of the time. Fast forward up until today, Syd’s now part of Seth Meyer’s 8G Band, the label is still going strong, and Les Savy Fav is still playing shows. On this episode, Syd joins us to talk about the label’s triumphs and tribulations over the course of the last two decades, as does Craig Finn, who’s bands The Hold Steady and Lifter Puller have enjoyed success...


Tracklib Brings Legal Sampling To The Masses

Episode #167 : Several high profile artists moved away from sampling in the late 90’s, after a smattering of lawsuits were brought against artists like De La Soul, Biz Markie, 2 Live Crew, etc. for the use of unauthorized samples in some of their biggest hits. As a result, the familiar sounds of hip-hop, pop, and electronica changed dramatically in the decades that followed, as people were both scared off of sampling, and/or confused by the myriad of clearances and fees needed to sample...


Converting Streams Into Liquid Assets Faster

Episode #166 : Under the current distribution model, labels and rights holders typically only get paid once a month by their distributor, and those payouts are often for streams and downloads that occurred well before the pay period. In an era where artists and labels are able to see nearly real-time usage data for their catalog, these delays in payment have made rapid growth difficult in some cases, and now there are companies stepping in with solutions. On this episode, we speak with Bruno...


Unpacking The C.A.S.E. Act

The Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2019, or C.A.S.E. Act, is currently making its way through Congress, and it stands to have a significant impact on musicians and labels across the country. As it stands now, if you’re a musician who’s had their music used without a license, your only recourse is to go to a federal copyright court to defend your claim of ownership, which often costs hundreds of thousands of dollars in court and attorney(s) fees, and you must travel...


The Future of Artist Management

Episode #164 : Like every other role in the music industry, the face of management is changing to meet the current needs of artists. With fewer and fewer labels investing in artist development, the work of building a team up around an artist has started to land more and more on the shoulders of managers. In our exploration of this topic, we speak with Brian Dubb of, who has developed a web based “virtual management” application that helps developing artists manage themselves,...


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...