Podcast Spotlight: Adam Santiago (Your Favorite Album)

Hello, everyone! We are grateful to know you somehow found time in your busy schedule to spend a short while browsing our blog. Today’s interview is special, as it serves as the first feature to highlight someone who rose to notoriety almost entirely because of podcasting. Sit back and enjoy!

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You have probably noticed this by now, but over the last several months there has been a surge in the number of music focused podcasts being discussed and promoted online. Even we have a show, and to be perfectly honest there have been discussions about whether or not we should launch another before the end of 2015. This post isn’t about that, however, it’s about the people who are currently making a place for alternative music fans in the world of podcasting. You’ve met some through interviews we’ve run in the past, but today’s featured talent can only be found through his incredibly weekly program. 

Adam Santiago is the host of ‘Your Favorite Album,’ a podcast where influential individuals from around the world of entertainment come to discuss the albums that serve as the soundtrack to their lives. It’s a show so incredibly simple it’s almost hard to believe only one such program exists, but every week Adam finds a way to guide the conversation to an exciting and completely enthralling place. Each episode gives you a new appreciation for the guest being featured, as well as the music they claim to love. It’s incredibly entertaining, and today we’re going to learn how it all came together.

If you want to learn more about Adam and his podcast, please make it a point to visit the show’s official website. Additional questions and comments can be added at the end of this post.

H: Hey there! Before we begin, why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself to our readers:

A: Hello, hello. My name’s Adam Santiago, and I host the “Your Favorite Album” podcast.

H: It’s great to have you with us, Adam. How is life in New York treating you today?

A: Thanks for having me! Can’t complain, New York City is always a hectic place but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

H: I want to talk about your show, but I also want people to know the real you. Care to share the regular job you hold down when not doing the podcast?

A: I’m the print production manager for a media company. We produce a number of magazines geared to the engineering community, and it’s my job to make sure everything goes smoothly from the beginning of the process to the moment they are shipped off to the printers.

H: Would you like to make the show your full time gig? I know there are more and more podcasts trying to not only monetize, but to monetize to such an extent it complete supports the host(s) and covers their expenses.

A: It would be pretty awesome if I was able to make the show my main gig. I enjoy my job but when it gets busy, it kind of takes priority over any other hobbies/projects. So when it’s crunch time, I’m not free to schedule guests and/or record, which then leaves me sometimes going a week or two without an episode. I’ve thought about different ways to monetize the podcast (sponsors, donations, merchandise) but I didn’t really start the show for money, it was just something I wanted to do. Maybe I’ll look into it again in the near future.

H: Maybe we are getting ahead of ourselves. I mean, we haven’t really told people about your podcast. For those unaware, please explain the premise of your show:

A: At the start of every episode, I ask a guest what their favorite music album is, and then let the conversation go from there.

H: What I love about your show is that it reads simple, but in execution it’s far more complex. Did you expect your conversations to go as deep as they have?

A: Why thank you, that makes me sound like a really skilled host haha. I will talk about music any chance I get, and am always up for learning about something new. While I was nervous at first as to how the conversations would flow, or if they would lack substance, all that went away two minutes into the recording of the first episode… it all just felt right.  

H: Backing up just a bit, what goals did you have when launching the show?

A: To be honest, I was just looking for something to do and get myself out of a slump that I had been in for a few months. I had done a pop culture podcast called NerdGeekDork with one of my best friends, and thought it’d be fun to do one on my own. I figured why not make it about something I love like music, and then include a bunch of my friends in on the fun? I get to talk about music with people and hear some interesting stories, I dig it. I was just curious as to if people would enjoy listening to it.

H: I think it’s good to keep expectations low, but from what I have seen the admiration people have for your efforts has been growing at an alarming rate. What are your thoughts on the success you’ve seen so far?

A: It’s pretty mindblowing. I thought guests would mainly be my friends and whatnot, but people have contacted me asking if they could be on the show, which I think is cool and I’m game for. I’ve managed to land people I wouldn’t have expected, like this rapper named Random who also goes by the name MegaRan that I’ve been a fan of for years. I reached out to Bob Nanna from Braid to be on the show and he not only was down, but mentioned he had been checking out the show since episode one… I totally spazzed out when I learned that. There have even been times where I’ll be in conversation with a group of people, the show will come up and someone will mention having checked it out and being a fan not even knowing that it was my show. I don’t get a big head about it, but it does make me smile.

H: the podcast market is growing at an alarming rate. What kind of marketing and/or advertising do you do to make people aware of your show?

A: To be honest, this is one area where I could probably do A LOT more. Pretty much all of the exposure for the show has come from word of mouth. I initially put the word out to a bunch of my friends on Facebook, and then as episodes would come out, guests would post about their appearances and bring the show to the attention of all new people. Also, say if someone sees an episode is about a specific album, they’ll show it to a friend who feels the same way about said album. The show does its own networking, it’s weird… but yeah, I should probably look into more ways to get the word out.

H: have you tried any marketing efforts in the past that didn’t work that you could tell us about?

A: I’ll let you know when I try one haha.

H: Perhaps you have been asked this before, but what do you think makes something that type of record that it could become someone ‘favorite’?

A: That’s a tough one to narrow down. Sometimes it’s that the album was somewhat of a shoulder to lean on, or maybe it just reminds you of a great time in your life, then again it might just be the best thing you’ve ever heard. I guess a favorite album is in the ears of the beholder or something clever like that.

H: Have you chosen your favorite record? You should definitely do a reverse episode and have yourself in the hot seat at one point.

A: On an earlier episode of the show, I did just that, and it was pretty fun. I’ve got a few favorites, but the one I chose for the episode is an album that I have close ties to. The album is called “You’re Always On My Mind” by the band A Great Big Pile of Leaves. The band and I are close friends, and I actually took a road trip with them and was there for the entire recording process of the album. There’s more to it, and I get into it in further detail on the episode. I feel like I’d want to do a few more episodes where I’m on the hot seat to talk about some others. What I do enjoy is that sometimes a guest will pick one of my favorites, and I’ll get to really nerd out with them.

H: Hopefully you enjoy listening to podcasts as much as making them. Do you have any shows you would ask our readers to check out?

A: When I’m working, I like to listen to Star Wars Minute, Feliz Navipod, and Art of Wrestling. I tend to check out random episodes of other podcasts as well based on recommendations, or if someone I know/enjoy is on as a guest.

H: Beyond the podcast, do you have any other music-related gigs or hobbies you want to tell us about?

A: Got a few actually! I do another music podcast called Alphabeatical, which is me and three of my friends going over every official Beatles studio release in alphabetical order from 12 to Y, it’s an 85 week long project.

Me and a friend are also in the midst of launching a new podcast/radio show called SpamSongs that we’re pretty excited about. Every month or so, we’ll post a new title, pulled from the subject line of an email in our spam folder. We then ask people to make an original song with that subject line as the title, and send us a link to it. At the end of the month, we’ll take a bunch of the submissions and release them as a radio-show-style podcast episode. The artists maintain ownership, and we’ll give them proper credit as well as a brief plug every time we play one of their songs. We’ve already gotten people interested in participating, so it should be a lot of fun.

Other than those two shows, I’m getting back into playing bass again. One of my goals in life was to play at least one show with friends. I haven’t been in a band for over 13 years and back then, we never got past jamming out in the basement before college and other priorities put that all on indefinite hiatus.

H: Who is your dream guest? What do you think would be their favorite record?

A: I tell people that Vanilla Ice is my dream guest, but I think that’s mainly because I have loved the hell out of his album “To The Extreme” since I was a little kid and would get a kick out of talking to him about it. I never really thought about what his favorite album would be, but now I’m really interested to find out. I’m pretty sure I could come up with a few other dream guests, but he’s the first one that usually pops into my head, probably because I always mention his album on the show.

H: If you could offer one piece of advice to people considering starting their own podcast, what would you say?

A: I’d say do it, but also make sure that it’s something you’re going to enjoy. When I started the show, I didn’t think of what premise would attract listeners, I thought about what I would enjoy doing, and went from there. If your heart’s not in it, you’re gonna get bored quick and be miserable if the show doesn’t do astronomically well. If I only had 23 listeners, I’d still be doing the show because I’m having fun doing it, and I think that comes across to the audience, that I’m really having a blast. That being said, once I dip below 23 listeners, I quit.

H: where do you see yourself in five years time? Is the show still around?

A: Happy and alive! I’d be stoked if the show was still going in five years time, I’m eager to keep doing it. It’s opened a lot of doors for me in terms of networking, so if it were to lead to other opportunities, that would also be awesome. 

H: I’m running out of questions, but is there any chance you can tell us about some of the guests you have lined up for the coming weeks?

A: I’ve got a few guests ready to go, but my day job has been insanely busy the past two months, so finding time to record has been difficult. Since you’re interviewing me, I feel it’s only fair that I return the favor and get you to talk about your favorite album. So that’s one future guest right there haha. I’ve also got a few musicians lined up, such as Matt Fazzi (Happy Body Slow Brain), Pete Weiland (A Great Big Pile of Leaves), Shawn Harris (The Matches), Tom Ryan (Young Statues) and some other awesome friends. What’s great about this show is that anyone’s take on their favorite album is gonna be pretty interesting and worth listening to, because it’s something everyone can relate to. I love having my friends on the show, and while they might not be known for anything specific, there stories end up being just as interesting as those of a guest that might be famous or more well-known.

H: Thanks so much for talking to us today, Adam. Before I let you go, are there any final thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers? 

A: Thanks for having me, this was fun, hope I didn’t ramble. As for final thoughts or comments, I’ll just say that music is out there, so keep an open ear, and an open mind. Also enjoy what you do, and remember… there’s always money in the banana stand.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.