10 of the best Music Ally Focus podcast episodes of 2022


It’s that time of year again! David Bowie and Bing Crosby are merrily rom-pom-pom-pomming once more. The definitive version of The Twelve Days of Christmas is back on people’s playlists. And Music Ally is continuing our series of articles looking back at the music industry’s 2022.

Today, specifically, we’re looking back at one of our regulars: the Music Ally Focus podcast. Helmed by our editor Joe Sparrow, it has published 50 episodes this year, covering a range of topics.

Some of the episodes were lighthearted, some were reactive to current events, some covered the nuts-and-bolts of music marketing, and some stopped us in our tracks. We also tried to take a bigger-picture look at some large themes, with two series of shows grouped around web3 technology and around ethical responsibility in the music industry.

We’ve picked 10 of the best for this recap: the year’s five most-streamed episodes, plus another five that we think were particularly notable. We’ll start with the five most popular shows:

01: Licensing David Guetta’s music in the metaverse – how hard could it be?! (#54)

The metaverse is still a complicated “coming soon” technology, but Vickie Nauman, founder of music consultancy CrossBorderWorks, was one of the first people to license music in the metaverse – 20 of David Guetta’s songs for an event where he – via his virtual avatar – DJ’ed in Roblox. She told us how she did it, and about the future of metaverse music licensing. Listen here.

02: The effects and artist reactions from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (#48)

At the start of March, we published this podcast shortly after Russian forces invaded Ukraine. Dartsya Tarkovska, co-founder of Music Export Ukraine spoke to Music Ally from western Ukraine and explained the war’s impact on artists and people in the music industry, and how the industry will need to change its approach to Ukraine and Russia in the future. Listen here.

03: Will equitable remuneration really boost artist streaming payments? (#80)

We got two people who really know their stuff to talk about whether applying ER to music streaming is a good idea. Spoiler: it might actually leave artists worse off. Dr Hayleigh Bosher, senior lecturer in intellectual property law and associate dean at Brunel University London, and Will Page, former chief economist at Spotify and PRS for Music. They explored from a legal and economic perspective which are of the three real-world ER options available the most likely to happen. Listen here.

04: New revenue streams and the positive industry we want to be (#41)

In January, Music Ally published its yearly Trends Report and this podcast picked over some of those topics. We looked at New Revenue Streams, including the pricing of streaming and challenger music services and the one-off, ‘non-DSP’ payments that fuelled major labels’ revenue surge in 2021. And secondly, because we are positive people here at Good Ship Music Ally, we spoke about The Positive Industry We Want to Be: specifically, the meaningful change that needs to happen around the climate emergency, and the Music Climate Pact. Listen here.

05: TikTok, influencer marketing, and how artists can go viral (#79)

We spoke to Sam Saideman, co-founder of Innovo Music Management about TikTok, influencer marketing, and how artists can do it effectively – it’s a really interesting conversation, full of good ideas, and free of marketing blah blah. He talked about the mistakes that big legacy marketing firms – like major labels – make when engaging with TikTok, and explains what they really should be doing. Listen here.

And now for five episodes that we’ve picked out as ones we’d love you to hear!

06: Change ambitions with the Diverse Representation Music Database (#56)

Last year, the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative examined over 4,000 executives from 119 music companies and found that only 7.5% were Black. In this episode we were joined by Jaia Thomas, founder and president of Diverse Representation, and Amity Paye, senior director of communications at Color Of Change, two organisations that had recently announced the launch of the Diverse Representation Music Database, which connects music companies directly with Black talent across the USA.

They talked about representation and equity in the music business, as well as the ambitions of the database, and the corporate accountability of the industry at large. Amity and Jaia also suggested how you can get started and be part of the change – even if you think you’re not powerful enough to make a difference. (Spoiler: you are!). Listen here.

07: Love Ssega talks combining a music career with climate justice (#85)

Artist Love Ssega explained how he combines his music career with climate justice, and whether artists have a responsibility to not be silent on this issue. The climate emergency is the most meaningful challenge of our time, and one that the music industry can make a number of changes in relation to – whether that’s in terms of reducing music businesses carbon footprints, or artists using their influence to encourage fans to make a difference.

Love Ssega told us about his work with initiatives like Earth Percent, and also about the business opportunity that awaits artists if they adopt and become vocally supportive of climate-friendly activities. Listen here.

08: Fighting sexual misconduct in the music industry, with Dorothy Carvello (#67)

Dorothy Carvello, former Atlantic A&R exec, and now author and campaigner for women in the music industry, had recently launched her Face the Music Now Foundation when we interviewed her. The foundation aims to support women experiencing abuse in the music industry, and to force through widespread change.

Major music companies, she said, were protecting abusers within their ranks, and shutting down women who make accusations via big cheques and NDAs. She also talked about the fear of speaking out and the need for transparency: “No 20 year old woman should have to say ‘if I speak up I’m afraid my career will be over.’ – that’s morally wrong. And it’s bad business! #MeToo is bad for the bottom line – and companies need to wake up and start realising that.” Listen here.

09: RAC talks Web3, and about using tokens and DAOs as fanclubs (#49)

As part of our web3 series of episodes, Grammy-award-winning artist RAC (AKA André Allen Anjos), and head of crypto at Hifi Labs, Jack Spallone talked to us about RAC’s new fan club / website which is also a DAO. The DAO – a Decentralised Autonomous Organisation – allows fans to become RAC token holders, and they are given access to exclusive features in the fan community, and new ways to interact with the artist. They explained how the DAO works, what the future of fan communities are in a web3 world, and what drew them both into this new field of technology. Listen here.

10: Library music and sync… and the best rock ‘n’ roll stories as a bonus (#84)

Gary Helsinger, SVP, licensing & creative at Melodie, chatted to us about the state of library music, but also told all of the best rock n roll stories we have heard on the Focus podcast thus far. Gary was director, A&R at Chrysalis Music Group whilst also a member of platinum-selling rock band Green Jellÿ – plus, he was also a manager, and has deep experience in licensing and synch.

So he told us about his work at Melodie, but also regaled us with stories of how he signed himself as a musician, discovered Jeff Buckley, signed the Smashing Pumpkins, argued with David Bowie, loaned Prince his guitar, snooped on shoppers behind a two way mirror with Michael Jackson, and, oh, a whole lot more. Listen here.

While you’re here…

– January’s NY:LON Connect conference we co-run with Music Biz has sold out of in-person tickets, but virtual tickets are still available. Check the lineup here!

– The Knowledge is Music Ally’s free weekly newsletter, arriving in your inbox every Friday with news, analysis and marketing tips. Sign up for it here!

– In October we launched a series of five courses to help labels, managers and artists make the most of Amazon Music. The free courses each last 30-45 minutes. Find them here!

Written by: Stuart Dredge