Sound And Substance - Independent Musicians And Producers

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Sound and Substance is a podcast for independent musicians, artists and producers who want to improve their songwriting, performance, production and strategy, as well as get closer to the career they envision for themselves through their music. John Steen interviews people in the music industry who are making it happen, and offers helpful advice and inspiration for indie artists and producers who want to get their mind right to succeed with their art, while picking up some practical tips from our many guests.


  • Andrew Bair - Value and the Independent Musician

    Andrew Bair - Value and the Independent Musician

    06/05/2019 Duração: 01h16min

    Andrew Bair is a freelance recording engineer and musician. He's a member of the band ADMIRALS and runs a recording business called Dead Format Records.

  • 2019 Announcement: New Podcast - White Space

    2019 Announcement: New Podcast - White Space

    16/03/2019 Duração: 04min

    I have a new podcast about the future of creative work, among other things. Would love to continue the conversation over there with new, relevant topics.

  • 52: How Generdyn turned his passion for music into a full-time business in less than 6 months

    52: How Generdyn turned his passion for music into a full-time business in less than 6 months

    13/06/2017 Duração: 47min

    Joshua Crispin's (aka Generdyn) dad gave him a challenge to make money from music in 6 months. He did it in 3. At 21 years old, he's placed music in trailers for Marvel, Disney, Paramount and many other major motion pictures.

  • 51: Michael Kanne of Northern National

    51: Michael Kanne of Northern National

    28/10/2015 Duração: 50min

    Michael Kanne of Northern National has the mentality that you have to make things happen. While many artists and bands make their music and hope to get noticed, Michael hustles day in and day out to create his own opportunities. In this interview we go over how in Northern National's first year as a band, they've already gotten gigs and opportunities that a lot of bands wait 3-5 years to get. We talk about how he reaches out to blog, how to spread awareness on social media without pissing people off and also some songwriting considerations if you're living in the pop genre. For any musicians or artist who struggles with the motivation to make stuff happen and get involved in the business aspect of your art, this might be a great interview to put things in perspective.

  • 35: Lorenzo Cosi - Producer and Songwriter

    35: Lorenzo Cosi - Producer and Songwriter

    27/05/2015 Duração: 32min

    Lorenzo is a producer, songwriter and mixing engineer currently living in London, UK. He's worked with artists, producers and ad campaigns like Lana Del Rey, Martin Terefe and McDonald's. Lorenzo and John first met when they were interning at Kensaltown Studios in Notting Hill, UK. At Kensaltown, Lorenzo ended up sticking around and learning from mega producers Martin Terefe (Jason Mraz, KT Tunstall, Shawn Mendes) and Sacha Skarbek (Adele, Miley Cyrus, Lana Del Rey) and eventually developing his own name as a producer. John and Lorenzo have a very interesting conversation on the role of formal music education in reality, and how feel and emotion is so much more important in succeeding as a musician and producer. This episode is encouraging for emerging artist or producers that haven't had the fancy internship or education that some musicians get in their journey.

  • 30: Michaelangelo Lacqua - The Infinite Possibilities of the Creative Mind

    30: Michaelangelo L'acqua - The Infinite Possibilities of the Creative Mind

    06/05/2015 Duração: 35min

      I’m pumped to have Michaelangelo L’acqua on the show today. Michaelangelo is a musician, DJ, producer and an international music lifestyle curator. In 1999 he was hired by Tom Ford to create the music identity for Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent and create the musical direction for the runways of Milan, Paris and New York.   He also executive produced the Nat King Cole Re:Generations project on EMI Records, which featured, Cee Lo Green and Nas.    He went on to become the Global Music Director for the W Hotel Group, and continues to evolve and combine his passions into interesting career opportunities.   The interesting part about his story to me is that he overcame so much challenge and rejection, like teachers considering him mentally-challenged instead of simply dyslexic, or how his mentor early on shut down his dream of being a pro guitar player. Yet he pushed forward with his passions and developed an attitude of, “Not if, but when”, which has propelled him forward to create a career that many w

  • 29: Nick Onken on Following Your Creative Resonance

    29: Nick Onken on Following Your Creative Resonance

    23/04/2015 Duração: 34min

    From graphic design to shooting for clients like Justin Bieber, Adidas, Burton and Walmart, Nick Onken shares his journey of following his "creative resonance" as a photographer. He also runs the podcast Shop Talk Radio for creative entrepreneurs. Nick originally started in Seattle doing graphic design work. After a life-changing trip to Africa and the encouragement of a friend, Nick decided his greatest passion was in photography. Climbing through a lot of the same struggles as indie musicians, Nick had to spend several years learning and honing his craft, to the point where he now works with clients such as Justin Bieber, Toyota, Adidas, Walmart, and many others. I really wanted to have Nick on because he can identify with the struggles and passion of being a creative entrepreneur. One of Nick’s greatest priorities is “creative resonance”, which is choosing projects that you personally are passionate about and resonate with so that you can make connections that matter, and be fulfilled as an artist. We touc

  • 26: Adam McCants on Licensing

    26: Adam McCants on Licensing

    24/01/2015 Duração: 22min

    Adam McCants is a licensing rep from The Music Bed, a licensing company with a national presence, garnering over 2 million views per month. Adam and I chat about... -What The Music Bed (TMB) is looking for from artists -What kind of artists TMB selects -How to improve your chances of getting syncs -What kind of music is "syncable" -How frequently artists can expect to get synced and the dollar range of monthly earnings their artists can earn -How to submit music to The Music Bed

  • 15: Wes Stephenson

    15: Wes Stephenson

    13/10/2014 Duração: 34min

    West Stephenson has been a professional musician for over 16 years and is currently both a freelance bass player in Dallas, TX and member of the band The Funky Knuckles. Wes is a very educated and skillful musician and has a few pointers for how to assemble a band, making a living as an independent musician and how to hustle and better your craft. I wanted to bring Wes on to show that you don't have to be a megastar to make a living in music for an extended period of time. Wes is loving playing locally as well as touring with The Funky Knuckles, and has some valuable things to say.

  • 12: Johnny Stimson

    12: Johnny Stimson

    06/10/2014 Duração: 38min

    After an exciting arrival with a viral video to accompany his debut single, "Human Man," beguiling new pop artist, Johnny Stimson, shows no signs of slowing down. Stimson has since unleashed three additional hits with "Daddy's Money," "Here We Go Again" and "SO.GOOD."  All four tracks rose organically to the top of The Hype Machine's highly respected Pop Chart and, after a personal hat tip on their socials, are proving that he is here to make "major waves" (Idolator) on the pop scene. In the past year alone, Stimson has been featured on, MTV Buzzworthy, Refinery29, Pop Justice, Nylon Magazine, and dozens of high profile blogs and web outlets. calls his songs "elegant," with the "theatrical yet sincere vulnerability of great pop." His music is "infectious" (MTV Buzzworthy), and "makes you want to groove out" (Baeble Music). Influenced by artists ranging from Prince to Justice, Stimson possesses a unique, stratospheric voice that captures the soul of a Motown favorite and the contemporary

  • 10: Sunday Lane of Thick as Thieves and Fauntella Crow

    10: Sunday Lane of Thick as Thieves and Fauntella Crow

    01/10/2014 Duração: 39min

    Sunday Lane is a versatile artist and songwriter involved with two bands: Thick as Thieves and Fauntella Crow. Sunday has had many licensing opportunities through Fauntella Crow, and has opened for Imagine Dragons and many others with Thick as Thieves. Sunday has played SXSW and Coachella, and has a lot of great perspective to offer indie artists and songwriters.We talk songwriting, collaboration, licensing opportunities and a lot of other good stuff. Thick as Thieves is about to release their debut album within a week or two, so look out for that!

  • 9: Multi Grammy award-winning Mix Engineer Rob Burrell

    9: Multi Grammy award-winning Mix Engineer Rob Burrell

    29/09/2014 Duração: 45min

    Rob Burrell is a mixing engineer in Nashville, TN. Rob has won 4 Grammy awards and been nominated for 12 Grammys to date. He has worked with major artists like Michael W. Smith but also enjoys taking on indie projects as well.In this episode, we talk about Rob's perspective on music creativity, what artists should be focusing on, and having integrity as a musician.

  • 8: Thomas Juth - Grammy Award-winning Mix Engineer

    8: Thomas Juth - Grammy Award-winning Mix Engineer

    24/09/2014 Duração: 45min

    Thomas Juth is a Grammy Award winning Mix Engineer based in London, England.​Juth started his career as the in-house mixer at Kensaltown Studios in London, and as a part of the Kensaltown Team (James Morrison, Jason Mraz, KT Tunstall, etc). Over the years, working with a very wide range of musical styles, he has developed his own trademark sound - organic and punchy, as well as "vibey" and exciting.Over the past 7 years Juth has built up an impressive discography, including latin superstars Jesse y Joy (which won him two Grammy awards), Luis Fonsi and Ricardo Arjona as well as legends such as Cat Stevens, Elton John and Engelbert Humperdink. Juth has also recenlty been working with UK rapper Tinchy Stryder.Growing up in northern Sweden, Juth developed a passion for sound and music at an early age. It all began one day when hearing The Beatles' Come Together, at the age of 7. With the years, the passion for sound and engineering grew further, a passion that eventually got him a job at Mayfair Studios  in Londo

  • 7: Ari Herstand - Artist, Actor, Blogger

    7: Ari Herstand - Artist, Actor, Blogger

    22/09/2014 Duração: 42min

    Most people now know Ari Herstand as the guy who helped them fly with their instruments. His Carry Your Instrument On The Plane… It’s The LAW blog post went viral and has been viewed over 300,000 with over 40,000 Facebook Likes, a Reddit and HackerNews thread. In just under two years, Herstand’s music business advice blog, Ari’s Take, has been nominated by the LA Weekly as the best music blog in Los Angeles and has become a go to resource for DIY musicians. Ari Herstand is a DIY musician who has played over 550 shows around the country, has opened for or toured with Ben Folds, Cake, Matt Nathanson, The Milk Carton Kids and Ron Pope, and has had his music featured in countless TV shows.Herstand has written for many of the top musician trade magazines and websites including Music Connection Magazine, Digital Music News, American Songwriter, Playback Magazine, CD Baby, Tunecore, Reverbnation, Discmakers, ASCAP, Hypebot and others. As an actor, he has co-starred in TV shows including 2 Broke Girls, The Fosters, S

  • 5: Sam Smyers of Pollimer

    5: Sam Smyers of Pollimer

    17/09/2014 Duração: 42min

    Pollimer (Sam Smyers) is a solo artist and producer located in Los Angeles, CA. Growing up in Dallas, TX, Sam became interested in music at a young age, first learning to play the viola and eventually taking guitar lessons from the guitar/keyboard player of successful Denton-based band Midlake. After attending The University of Texas in Austin, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue his passion for music. Sam picked up the name Pollimer and self-released and produced the single “Summer Nights,” which caught the attention of local tastemaker radio station KCRW as well as KX93.5 in Laguna Beach and KBeach 88.1 FM. Pollimer recently released his “Find Me” EP and is currently writing and producing for various artists in Los Angeles. We talk about how he recently garnered major label attention, the role age plays in your music career, songwriting/production technique and a lot more.

  • 4: Kevin Breuner of Smalltown Poets and CD Baby

    4: Kevin Breuner of Smalltown Poets and CD Baby

    17/09/2014 Duração: 37min

    CD Baby’s Director of Marketing, Kevin Breuner, has spent over 14 years working in the music business, both as an artist and an industry professional. A San Diego native, Kevin went East to attended Belmont University in Nashville, TN where he studied Music and Music Business. After college, he joined the Atlanta based band Smalltown Poets who later signed a recording contract with a major label under the EMI umbrella. Their self titled debut album received critical acclaim selling over 200,000 copies and landing the guys with a Grammy nomination plus multiple Dove Award nominations.Kevin now lives in Portland, Oregon, home to great coffee, independent thinking, and 5 months of rain. He stays active in the music industry, managing CD Baby’s marketing efforts and hosting their popular DIY Musician Podcast, as well as within the local music scene. His band Smalltown Poets just celebrated the release of their sixth studio album titled Under The New Sun. In the podcast we talk about juggling music and other inter

  • 3: Max Helmerich of Thick as Thieves

    3: Max Helmerich of Thick as Thieves

    04/09/2014 Duração: 26min

    Max is a member of LA-based band Thick as Thieves, who blend rock, hip-hop and pop music. From Buffalo to Eugene, Thick as Thieves hastoured extensively throughout the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, and West coast college markets, opening for national favorites such as Imagine Dragons, Nas, Bassnectar, Empire of the Sun, Sean Kingston, Matt & Kim, Young the Giant, 21 Pilots, and Wale among others. Locally, they have played at many of the world famous Sunset Strip venues such as the House of Blues, Troubadour, Whiskey a Go Go, and The Roxy. Thick as Thieves continues to pursue their path as innovators in support of their recently released EP “These Days.” Currently, the band is in the studio, writing and recording new music for an upcoming 2014 fall release.We talk songwriting, inspiration, daily discipline and some background on Thick as Thieves' journey.

  • 2: Graham Cochrane of The Recording Revolution

    2: Graham Cochrane of The Recording Revolution

    04/09/2014 Duração: 46min

    Graham Cochrane is a diverse producer, engineer and songwriter based out of Tampa, FL. He provides remote mixing and mastering services to clients worldwide, as well as heads up the online music community The Recording Revolution. Graham’s articles and tutorials have been featured by Avid, Slate Digital and Behringer, and his blog garners over 200,000 readers every month.In the podcast, we talk about how to approach a completely DIY recording project, the importance of fun and several other tips about how to get your mind right as an independent musician.

  • 1: Intro to SS and John Steen

    1: Intro to S&S and John Steen

    04/09/2014 Duração: 05min

    I talk about what S&S is all about, who I am and why you may be interested in listening if you're an independent artist or producer.