26 episodes

Sean Adams hosts conversations on the future of music. From inclusion in the industry to the sustainability of music journalism, the founder of the pioneering music blog Drowned in Sound (est. 2000) explores the importance of justice, truth, possibilities, and the joy of music.

Drowned in Sound Sean Adams

    • Music
    • 4.3 • 3 Ratings

Sean Adams hosts conversations on the future of music. From inclusion in the industry to the sustainability of music journalism, the founder of the pioneering music blog Drowned in Sound (est. 2000) explores the importance of justice, truth, possibilities, and the joy of music.

    What is the function of record reviews in 2024?

    What is the function of record reviews in 2024?

    Elijah is a profound thinker and this conversations draws on his influential grime nights with Stormzy & Skepta, writing about music, DJing and to his Yellow Square instagram posts, which are a form of community-building journalism that act as prods and prompts that agitate thoughts into focus.

    DiS021 | S2: The Future of the Music Press EP13

    From his experience as a pirate radio DJ to running Butterz label & clubnights to being a musician and artist manager, Elijah considers yellow squares to be a former of journalism and the conversation explores the ecosystem that feeds into it and swirls around it.

    In this conversation with Drowned in Sound founder Sean Adams, we discuss mediums and spaces, online platforms and club cultures. The conversation sways from curation as a form of journalism, the YouTube mindset, Twitter, 10 minute or 10 hour radio shows.

    We also try to deconstruct the gatekeeper and the creative challenges facing people working in music, journalism and anything that involves publishing online. We also discuss the joy of Tumblr, yow electronic music in the UK clusters around its pirate radio, BBC media structures,  and why not all clubs closing is a bad thing.

    Quotes out of context:

    “What’s the musical equivalent of a community note?”

    “Some people say ‘I don’t make any money’. Well, what do you sell?”

    “Imagine if a review is all the possibilities that the album lays down”

    “It's one bit of work.  With all these different mediums,  but it’s just the language hasn't adjusted  to, to serve that yet, you know what I'm saying?”

    “…there's a hundred thousand, ten thousand histories happening at once. And that's like something that music journalism, the box, cannot fully capture.”

    “People just think, ‘oh, that's their job to write about music.’ And it's like, no, their job is to sell advertising space  wrapped around the coverage of music. That's what magazines have been historically. Right?”


    Eli1ah on Instagram
    Various links: https://linktr.ee/Eli1ah
    YouTube recommendation: Super Eyepatch Wolf
    YouTube recommendation: Nathan Zed

    Make The Ting album
    Eli1ah's Resident Advisor Takeover
    Further reading: "Close The App, Make The Ting": Elijah's Yellow Squares are making a difference by cutting through the noise (DMY)
    Podcast referenced with Bandcamp founder

    Please note, this conversation took place in November 2023.

    If you're enjoying this podcast, please sign up and support our new newsletter at DrownedinSound.org.


    Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/drownedinsound/message

    • 1 hr 3 min
    The joys of magazine-making with PROG Editor Jerry Ewing

    The joys of magazine-making with PROG Editor Jerry Ewing

    How do you become a magazine editor that can put Kate Bush on the cover? And what’s it like running a genre-specific title in 2023?

    In a world where the digital age is rapidly redefining media, Sean Adams (@seaninsound) meets a titan of the magazine world, Jerry Ewing, editor of PROG magazine for a rare interview. From his roots starting a Marillion-inspired fanzine to being at the helm of genre-defining publications such as Classic Rock and Metal Hammer, Jerry's journey is a testament to the enduring power of specialist knowledge and passion-driven journalism.

    Episode Highlights:

    The Genesis of a Genre Journalist: Jerry recounts the serendipitous moments that led him from crafting a fanzine to steering the course of iconic music magazines.

    The Art of Magazine-making: Delve into the craft of curating content for a niche audience, the evolution of magazines in the internet era, and the potential resurgence akin to vinyl's comeback.

    Defining the Undefined: What is progressive rock? Jerry challenges the conventional confines, advocating for a broad, idea-driven definition that encompasses the innovative spirit of the genre.

    Adapting to the Beat of Change: The discussion turns to the seismic shifts in media consumption and the strategies for staying relevant in a landscape transformed by technology.

    The Human Touch: Jerry envisions a future where the human element is not just a feature but a proud declaration in magazine-making.

    Notable Quotes from Jerry Ewing:

    "Progressive music's reach is quite wide... It's the ideas and the approach to making music that sets them apart."

    "Understanding your readers is crucial... Be comfortable with your readership, and they'll feel comfortable with you."

    "The editor guides the magazine... decides what goes in it, helps point the tone."

    "For our readers, it's the music that matters... They're not interested in sex, drugs, and rock and roll."

    "Communication between human beings is at the root of journalism."

    Further Insights:

    From Court Jester to PROG: Jerry's DIY beginnings and the transition from fanzine to professional journalism.

    The Inclusive Vision of Prog: Embracing a wide spectrum from prog metal to experimental indie, Jerry's editorial direction is as diverse as the genre itself.

    The Editor's Role: Setting the tone and creating a dialogue with music aficionados, Jerry's editorial philosophy is about crafting a space for in-depth musical exploration.

    The Vinyl Moment for Magazines: Speculating on the tangible allure of print in the digital age, and the unique value it could regain.


    PROG Magazine
    Jerry Ewing on Twitter
    Subscribe to Drowned in Sound on Substack


    Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/drownedinsound/message

    • 1 hr 1 min
    What's it like to broadcast from a war zone?

    What's it like to broadcast from a war zone?

    Award-winning reporter Julia MacFarlane explains what the music press can learn from traditional news journalism.

    As Drowned in Sound's podcast season looking at the future of music media continues, we wander into the world of international journalism with award-winning reporter Julia MacFarlane. With a wealth of experience reporting on major global events for the BBC to ABC News, Julia shares her unique insights into the art of covering huge stories and the challenges of conveying truth in an age of misinformation.

    DiS018 | Season 2: The Future of Music Journalism EP10


    From Beirut to Brexit: Julia discusses her experiences covering critical global events.
    The 'One Decision' Podcast: Learn about Julia's co-hosting experience with former Chief of MI6 Sir Richard Dearlove, where she interviews experts on a range of pressing topics.
    Challenges of Modern Journalism: Julia reflects on the importance of accuracy and impartiality in journalism, especially in high-stakes international reporting.
    Self-Shot Journalism: Julia discusses the challenges and rewards of self-shooting journalism and the necessity of recording events impartially and accurately.
    The Power of Personal Stories: Understand the role of personal narratives in making complex global issues relatable and understandable.

    Key Quotes:

    "Recording events as they happen is vital... it's important to have professionals who are trained to record things accurately and impartially." - Julia MacFarlane
    "The BBC was a crucial connection to home and world events for English-speaking families abroad." - Julia MacFarlane
    "In filmmaking, whether you're a solo journalist or part of a team, finding compelling stories and voices is essential." - Julia MacFarlane


    [02:06] Julia's Background and Career Path
    [14:03] Challenges and Responsibilities in Journalism
    [29:17] Insights from 'One Decision' Podcast
    [34:23] Navigating Journalism in the Digital Age


    For more on Julia MacFarlane's work, check out the "One Decision" podcast and follow her on social media (Linkedin | Instagram | X | Threads).
    Enjoyed this episode? Share it with a friend or leave us a review on Apple or Spotify.
    For updates about Drowned in Sound, subscribe to our Substack newsletter

    Hosted and Produced by Sean Adams.


    Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/drownedinsound/message

    • 41 min
    Should music critics 'pivot to video'?

    Should music critics 'pivot to video'?

    Meet the YouTube music critic who runs whilst reviewing records.

    Probably not all of them, but there are some people evolving music criticism onto new mediums. To understand what it's like to be a "creator" on YouTube, we spoke to Jimmy Watkins, who gave up his career as an athlete (he reached the 800m final in the World Indoor Athletics Championships in 2006 and set a Welsh indoor record!) to play guitar for DiS favourites Future of the Left.

    After leaving the band, he started a project called Running Punks with a friend which has become a community of music-lovin' runners. A spin off of this has been his videos where he reviews records, whilst running in the Welsh countryside.

    In this conversation, Drowned in Sound founder Sean Adams continues his search for where music journalism is headed and explores where the idea for 'running reviews' came from, how Jimmy approaches them, when music writing got under his skin from (spoiler: it was music biographies and reading magazines in Tesco). We also touch upon Jimmy's upcoming documentary running across America and his new music project Joyce, which you can listen to on Bandcamp here.


    00:00 Sean's Introduction: The Pivot to Video Journalism
    00:56 The Running Review of The Art of Losing by The Anchoress
    03:17 Understanding Journalism with Jimmy Watkins
    04:55 The Evolution of Running Reviews
    25:44 The Unique Appeal of Running Reviews
    33:43 The Role of Music in Personal and Cultural Understanding
    48:31 The Upcoming Projects and Final Thoughts


    Subscribe: Jimmy's channel on YouTube here.
    Visit: Running Punks
    Drowned in Sound's newsletter has now left Substack and is available on our new website at drownedinsound.org


    Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/drownedinsound/message

    • 51 min
    Why Music Journalism Matters

    Why Music Journalism Matters

    The Quietus' John Doran reflects on the demise of Pitchfork and whether music journalism is now destined to be a hobby or can writing/thinking/talking about music thrive in a reader-funded era?

    DiS020 | S2: The Future of the Music Press EP12

    In his widely-shared piece for The Guardian, this episode's guest John Doran, co-founder of the esteemed music publication The Quietus, wrote about the importance of music criticism:

    "I think a good analogy for writing about music is like composing poetry about the weather. You could spend an entire lifetime writing verse about thunderheads and tornadoes and not come within a mile of creating something that was as literally sublime, but once in a while the writer will connect with the rhythms, the flash of lightning, the spatter of rain, and if they are really focused they will discover entirely new rhythms and be inspired to write something unique."

    Beyond the beauty and power of words, this discussion with Drowned in Sound founder Sean Adams covers a lot of ground including:

    how Fela Kuti widened John's horizons and inspired a Guardian column that saw him taking a trip to Cairo to discover the emerging music scenes in Egypt
    Sophie's impact on artists like Charli XCX
    Poptimism and the domination of Taylor Swift
    what it signifies for counterculture when James Blake plays at Chanel parties
    the 'industry plant' nonsense surrounding the brilliant Last Dinner Party
    the impact of search engine optimisation on what the music press commissions
    a bit about the intersection of entertainment reporting with music writing
    We also delve into the essence of why music journalism matters

    As with the rest of this season, the conversation also looks ahead to what the future holds, and whether there will be enough voice like Neil Kulkarni's (RIP).

    Key Timings

    03:40 Exploring the Definition of Journalism

    16:38 The Impact of Populism on Music Journalism

    29:01 Exploring Music from Different Parts of the World

    47:08 The Interconnectedness of Music Scenes

    48:49 The Influence of Algorithms on Music Discovery

    01:07:19 The Importance of Diverse Voices in Music Journalism

    About The Guest

    John Doran is the co-founder of award-winning website The Quietus. He has written for a range of publications including Bang!, The Guardian, NME, BBC, Vice, The Wire, Metal Hammer and more. His "misery memoir" Jolly Lad is out now. You can hear his BBC Radio 4 series New Weird Britain on BBC Sounds. Watch his British Masters series for Noisey on YouTube here. You can find him on Twitter @JahDuran.

    About The Host

    Sean Adams founded Drowned in Sound, which recently relaunched as a weekly newsletter here. Alongside hosting, he does all the production on this solo project podcast and wrote a little more about the process here. You'll find him on all social media platforms as @seaninsound.


    Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/drownedinsound/message

    • 1 hr 18 min
    Is 'Traditional Media' Still Relevant for New Artists?

    Is 'Traditional Media' Still Relevant for New Artists?

    Does the music industry still need the music press? Do new acts still care about media coverage?

    Explore the shifting landscape of music promotion in the digital era with Atlanta Cobb, the award-winning Music Business Coach and manager of multi-platinum selling artists.

    In this episode, Drowned in Sound's founder Sean Adams delves deep into the existential questions surrounding the relevance of traditional music press in a time of TikTok. Atlanta shares her journey from Florence + The Machine fan site creator to consultant and coach, aiding hundreds of artists in navigating their evolving careers.

    DiS017 | Season 2 - The Future of the Music Press | EP9

    Key Topics and Time Stamps:

    00:00 The Changing Role of Music Press
    00:13 Audience Consumption Shift
    00:51 Insights from a New Generation Music Consultant
    01:34 Challenges in Getting New Artists Coverage
    02:15 Decline of Music Press Influence
    03:48 Rise of Social Media in the Music Industry
    05:05 Reality of Music Consumerism
    06:44 The Impact of Press on an Artist's Career
    09:58 Role of Fan Communities in Music Promotion
    10:19 Atlanta's Journey into the Music Industry
    21:22 Impact of Press Quotes in Marketing
    28:10 Effects of Social Media on Artists
    29:51 Power of Audience and Fans in Music
    30:55 Potential of Social Media Platforms
    36:55 Role of Social Media in Music Promotion
    51:00 Struggles of New Artists in Today's Industry
    57:10 Need for Adaptation in the Music Industry
    58:18 Closing Thoughts: The Love for Music

    Insightful Quotes from Atlanta Coombs:

    "Consistency is crucial, both in how press champions artists and how I advise my artists in their promotional strategies"​​.
    "The industry's trend towards TikTok and social media metrics often overlooks talented artists who lack massive followings or resources"​​.
    "The music industry needs to find different approaches to adapt and evolve, especially in how artists release music and engage in storytelling"​​.
    "It's like the wild west out there in the music industry, but having a deep love for it is essential to navigate its complexities and stay the course"​​.

    About Atlanta Cobb:
    Atlanta's rich background includes roles at Island Records and Columbia Records, working with artists like Post Malone and Drake. Atlanta was recently a day-to-day Artist Manager at Crown Talent & Media Group, working with artists such as Becky Hill, Ella Henderson, and Camden Cox.


    Atlanta on TikTok
    Learn more about Atlanta's mentoring for new artists
    Subscribe to Drowned in Sound's Substack newsletter for thoughts and advice on the modern music industry

    Subscribe and Follow:

    To stay updated with the latest in the music industry and Drowned in Sound episodes, subscribe to our podcast and follow us on our social channels.


    Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/drownedinsound/message

    • 58 min

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