The Best Music Podcasts, Old and New

Musical talent not required.

music podcasts
(Image credit: Design by Morgan McMullen)

Listening to music is unlike any other experience, but you knew that. When you're listening to a piece of music, it evokes something in you that's hard to describe. The same can be true of podcasts, which many listeners find to be a unique combination of soothing and addictive. So why not mesh the two? A good music podcast will not only add weight to your perception of an artist, song, or beat, but allow you to absorb crazy amounts of knowledge in an hour or less. (I mean, how else are you to discover how songwriters are writing songs now for TikToks or how your favorite boyband came to be?)

Music podcasts cover all sorts of topics, from the most beloved tracks for your favorite artists to fan analyses of the songs they've listened to thousands of times. The search for a good music podcast may seem like a voyage, but this article is here to help you think it's like a walk to the mailbox. Here are 11 music-themed, editor-picked podcasts we recommend pressing play for your next listen.

'Song Exploder'

song exploder

(Image credit: Future)

Get to the depths of your favorite songs in 30 minutes or less. Each episode features an artist talking about what went into the writing and producing of one of their most beloved songs, from Semisonic's "Closing Time" all the way to Yo-Yo Ma's "Prelude." I always feel a little closer to a song after I listen to an episode.


'Broken Record' 

broken record

(Image credit: Spotify)

Four different hosts run this podcast, so it's easy to find a favorite interviewer (mine is legendary producer Rick Rubin). It feels like every living legend in the world of music sat down and discussed their career and life in length for Broken Record. Episodes range from mental health discussions with Andre 3000 to writer's block with Alabama Shakes' lead singer Brittany Howard.


'Desert Island Discs'

desert island discs

(Image credit: BBC)

A British staple since 1942 (!), this iconic BBC radio program has translated perfectly to the podcast era. Every week, the host asks a top celebrity or public figure to select the eight tracks that they'd take to a desert island with them. In other words, the songs that define their life—and the interviews usually get deeply personal. Figures from Emma Thompson to Tom Hanks to genocide survivors and era-defining public figures have appeared on this show to tell their story, which is why it's been a hit for more than 80 years.


'Hit Parade'

hit parade

(Image credit: Spotify)

It's hard to imagine what pop music was like before Whitney Houston or how we ever celebrated the holidays without belting out the lyrics to Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You." Host Chris Molanphy looks back on the history of the hit songs we love and how they came to be. Think of it as a musical trip down memory lane.


'Tiny Desk Concerts'

'Tiny Desk Concerts'

(Image credit: NPR)

Everything you love about NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts, but in a podcast. If you're unfamiliar with the concept, think about your favorite artist performing at the desk in your office. The videos gain a lot of traction on YouTube, so it only makes sense to turn the audio from the concerts into podcast episodes.


'Riffs On Riffs'

Riffs on riffs

(Image credit: Evergreen)

Sometimes an artist's muse can be be the melody of a song that isn't even theirs. Hosts Joe Watson and Toby Brazwell look to the past and present to find songs that sound a lot like each other. Episodes dive into the similarities between songs like Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You" and TLC's "No Scrubs"—and where Outkast got that unforgettable beat for "Ms. Jackson."




(Image credit: New York Times)

New York Times pop music critic Jon Caramanica hosts this insightful podcast on all things music. Caramanica has a way of bringing on special guests to the show that are almost as interesting as the subject itself. A favorite episode of mine discusses Charlie Puth vs. Shawn Mendes in the battle to become pop king.


'Your Favorite Band Sucks'

Your Favorite Band Sucks

(Image credit: Spotify)

The black sheep in the world of music podcasts that is *chef's kiss.* The title says it all: Two dudes, Mark and Tyler, rip your favorite band a new one. It's smart, insightful, and has me laughing throughout the episode (despite crying on the inside knowing someone out there doesn't like the Strokes as much as I do).


'Rolling Stone Music Now'

Rolling Stone Music Now

(Image credit: Rolling Stone)

When it comes to music, there has historically been no better source than Rolling Stone. New music-focused publications have come to play in recent years, but this podcast shows why the magazine has always been iconic. Episodes tackle the history of boybands to album breakdowns from many of the magazine's well-known writers.


'Song vs. Song'

song vs song

(Image credit: Spotify)

I love a good debate. Pitting two songs that have a special place in my Spotify library against each other is a gift from the gods. Listen in on hosts Todd Nathanson and Dany Roth as they take two songs and discuss who's the champ in this musical smackdown.




(Image credit: Spotify)

True crime stories of some of music's biggest names? The crossover you never knew you needed. Stories range from the murder of John Lennon to Madonna's dangerously wild rise to fame. The fifth season just started, so you'll have tons of episodes for binge-listening.



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Bianca Rodriguez is the Fashion & Luxury Commerce Manager at Hearst Magazines, covering fashion, beauty, and more for Cosmopolitan, Elle, Esquire, Harper’s BAZAAR, and Town & Country. In addition to spearheading commerce content across brands—from writing about wardrobe must-haves and sales at major retailers to strategizing—she is also an avid reader with a deep love and knowledge for books of all genres. More often than not, you can find her lounging with a good book on the weekend.