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Water & Music

Music Podcasts

The fine print of big ideas in music and technology, hosted by journalist Cherie Hu and featuring a curated selection of young leaders, thinkers and innovators from across the music business. This is an ad-free audio companion to the eponymous email newsletter.

The fine print of big ideas in music and technology, hosted by journalist Cherie Hu and featuring a curated selection of young leaders, thinkers and innovators from across the music business. This is an ad-free audio companion to the eponymous email newsletter.


United States


The fine print of big ideas in music and technology, hosted by journalist Cherie Hu and featuring a curated selection of young leaders, thinkers and innovators from across the music business. This is an ad-free audio companion to the eponymous email newsletter.








Episode 14 (ft. Amit Gurbaxani): What India's music industry can teach us about paid YouTube views, musical regionalism and the productive uselessness of charts

Mumbai-based music journalist Amit Gurbaxani joins this episode to discuss the latest trends defining the Indian music business. We start by examining the implications of Amit's early reporting on Badshah and Sony Music India, who openly admitted to buying views on YouTube in order to "break" the platform's record for most views in the first 24 hours —a practice that YouTube formally banned shortly thereafter. We then expand to wider industry issues, including but not limited to how language...


Episode 13 (ft. Garrison Snell): Why now is a tough time to start a music marketing agency

Garrison Snell, Founder & CEO of Gyrosity Projects, joins this episode to unpack the opportunities and challenges that independent music marketers face in the modern industry landscape. We discuss the ongoing consolidation of marketing agencies and consulting firms both inside and outside of music; why now is not the best time to start a new music-marketing agency, and where the few remaining gaps in the market might be found; how record labels are now competing with music-marketing agencies...


Episode 12 (ft. Madame Gandhi): What does an artist-centric future for music-tech look like?

Prolific drummer, electronic artist, feminist activist and public speaker Kiran Gandhi (a.k.a. Madame Gandhi) joins this episode to exchange perspectives not just on how technological change has transformed artists' careers, but also on what artists themselves can do about it. We discuss, among other things, the potential reasons why artists are left out of the majority of conversations about the future of music-tech; the importance of artist-residency programs within music and tech startups...


Episode 11 (ft. Wyatt Jenkins): Why music isn't a top-two category on Patreon (yet)

Patreon's SVP Product Wyatt Jenkins joins this episode to dive into the opportunities and challenges around growing membership models in the music industry. We unpack the financial and ideological roadblocks to making music a top-two category on Patreon, why it's so difficult to bake both discovery and membership mechanisms into the same product and how Patreon might compete with music distribution platforms and other music-oriented software services in the long run, with respect to...


Episode 10 (ft. Alex Mitchell): How artificial intelligence will do to music creation what Instagram did to photography

Boomy founder/CEO Alex Mitchell joins this episode — recorded just an hour after Boomy launched out of beta! — to talk about the disruptive impact that artificial intelligence will have on music creation and distribution. We unpack why there's arguably no such thing as "A.I.-generated music," the importance of optimizing for creativity rather than for accuracy in music-composition algorithms, what the "win condition" would be for A.I. and music and why tools like Boomy could do to the...


Episode 9 (ft. Sammy Andrews): The music business needs to break down its own data silos

Deviate Digital CEO Sammy Andrews joins this episode to unpack why there remain so many stubborn data silos among artists, labels, distributors, promoters and streaming platforms in the music industry, and what steps we might be able to take to address the problem. We discuss the types of data that music companies would actually benefit from sharing *more* with each other, as well as the merits and drawbacks of breaking down silos through company diversification (e.g. management companies...


Episode 8 (ft. Eugene Kan + Charis Poon): The case for greater creative and algorithmic accountability in the music industry

MAEKAN's Eugene Kan and Charis Poon join this episode to discuss the key ideas in their essay "The Modern Creator's Paradigm," which argues that continuing cultural innovation will require greater creative and critical accountability from artists, platforms and consumers combined. We discuss the undeniable gatekeeping of music streaming platforms, the positive implications of raising financial barriers to creation and consumption, how Lil Nas X's career would not exist without multiple forms...


Episode 7 (ft. Ben Gross + Laura Kinniburgh): How lyrics are a leading indicator of innovation in music licensing

Genius' Chief Strategy Officer Ben Gross and Head of Music Licensing Laura Ostler Kinniburgh join this episode to discuss the challenges and opportunities in valuing and monetizing lyrics properly in the modern music industry. We break down how technology has made the music licensing process easier (and harder), how Genius' evolution as a media brand has changed its approach to licensing, how the company's YouTube series "VERIFIED" generates publishing income for artists and how Genius'...


Episode 6 (ft. Alex Bonavia): Artists are now launching pads for songs, not the other way around

WAVO's Head of Business Development Alex Bonavia joins this episode to discuss the new marketing paradigm in the music industry that treats artists as de facto brands and media properties, independent of any song or album cycles. What are the implications of being able to "subscribe" to an artist long-term, instead of just streaming their music? Why does seemingly every music company with some kind of brand cachet want to start a joint venture with a record label? Why are creative directors...


Episode 5 (ft. Kero One): The lowdown on lo-fi hip-hop's past, present and future

DJ-rapper-producer Kero One joins this episode to break down the past, present and future of lo-fi hip-hop—from the perspective of an artist who has been making music for almost two decades, but became associated with the "lo-fi" scene only recently after the genre's solidification in the mainstream. We dive into the deep ties among lo-fi hip-hop, jazz and Asian culture, the positioning of lo-fi as an alternative to trap, the role of technology in evolving who gets to participate in the...


Episode 4 (ft. Amber Horsburgh): Why marketing music to strangers, not to existing fans, is more profitable

Music-marketing consultant Amber Horsburgh joins this episode to discuss why marketing music to strangers—i.e. to people who don't know who you are yet—is more profitable than catering only to existing fans. What are the limitations of Kevin Kelly's widely-cited "1,000 True Fans" theory in the context of artists trying to scale their brands? Why do record labels fall into the "content is king" trap and spend so little of their marketing budgets on reach and distribution, compared to other...


Episode 3 (ft. Mike Warner): Playlists are here to stay, but you shouldn't pay to get on them

Streaming expert Mike Warner joins this episode to set the record straight on what playlists really can, and cannot, do for artists' careers. How does one build a playlist strategy that optimizes for fandom? What does it mean to be "ready" for a placement on New Music Friday, and how can artists maximize their preparation? How can you ensure that third-party playlist pitching services aren't ripping you off? And how will the playlist as a format continue to evolve in the future? At the end,...


Episode 2 (ft. Dan Runcie): How hip-hop and venture capital are blueprints for each other's futures

Trapital founder Dan Runcie joins this episode to discuss the wide variety of shared opportunities—and problems—between hip-hop and venture capital. What are the similarities in how independent musicians and tech founders navigate their respective funding landscapes, and what alternative funding models are emerging to serve their needs? How do record labels and VC firms make investment decisions, and how could they potentially improve (e.g. pattern-matching biases)? How are third-party music...


Episode 1 (ft. David Turner): Pop music was never "behind" on streaming—and Ariana Grande is proof

Fellow music writer David Turner joins the inaugural episode of the Water & Music podcast! We unpack Ariana Grande's record-breaking, rapid-fire release strategy, debunk the stereotype of pop music as "lagging behind" in the streaming era, debate the pitfalls of manufacturing virality and flooding the market at all costs, and emphasize the importance of giving fans multiple entry points to participating in your story as an artist. As part of a new segment, we also share one piece of recent...