Spotify Editor in Podcast Editorial Jessica Diaz Hurtado is a true audio connoisseur. She spends her days switching between her favorite musical genres (hip-hop, salsa, reggaeton, R&B and house) genre-free Spotify playlists like Mixto, and at least five podcast episodes per day. As Curator of the Spotify Music Podcast Editorial Center the LINERshe straddles the two worlds of music and podcasting, finding the spaces where they come together to tell stories, lead cultural conversations or simply entertain.
There’s been a boom in music podcasts in recent years, including Spotify Originals like the rapper Nas-hosted The Bridge: 50 years of hip-hop and that of Danyel Smith Black girl songbook, as well as Off the Record with DJ Akademiks, Spotify: mic check, and Bandsplain— not to mention classic favorites like song exploder. Jessica’s experience as a music journalist in the audio space leads her to listen and choose the next big music podcast any listener can fall in love with.
“Really, anyone who listens to music or is a music fan can find something on theLINER,” Jessica said. For registration. “We all have that artist, genre, or scene that we can relate to in a way that only music can bring out in us. theLINER engages those who love music, have that curiosity and want to learn and discover more.
Read on for our full conversation.
You have a background in audio journalism. How does this influence your approach to podcast curation in your role at Spotify?
I was at NPR, where I was a Kroc Fellow as well as a producer. I spent a lot of time with the musical teams. I have always loved music and have a background in arts and writing. So I just leaned into that space and was able to produce and co-host and it was a lot of fun. From there I did some documentary work, taught a bit, then found my way to Spotify’s Podcast editorial team, where I started as an editor. Since then, I have focused on music and entertainment, given my background and background in reporting.
As a former audio journalist, I know there is a ton of research and musical listening before going into an interview or a story. So when I curate, I look for that preparation in the stories. I look for moments that producers and editors may have intentionally cut out to really try to draw in the listener. I also research the storytellers’ intent in how they piece together and organize their own stories.
What do you listen to when you start listening to a new podcast?
The intro is always important. This helps any listener understand the personality of the show, especially if it’s being run by the host. When it doesn’t sound too scripted – having a person who is comfortable with their voice, and that takes a long time to get used to – I think that attracts other listeners as well. And then of course the production and the engineering and how sound is used to tell a story. Whether it’s quirky or innovative, how a podcaster or storyteller constructs a story through sound always interests me.
Every month you program the LINERad specifically eand Best of theLINER Playlist. What are some of the episodes you have scheduled this month?
So one is from the podcast correct. It’s a bay area based podcast where they interview a rapper from Richmond named Pallaví aka Fijiana which embraces its Indo-Fijian identity. I thought that was a great point of view, a perspective that I had never really heard. She talks about being a woman and owning her sexuality, as well as the sexism she experienced due to her identity, upbringing and growing up in the Bay Area and how it impacted her music. I liked to hear about her before hearing her music; It made me want to find out more.
Another that is lit is Still in process. They just released a new season, and their first episode is about American Top 40. Wesley Morriswho is one of the hosts and an amazing journalist, has a very interesting conversation with a cultural critic named Daphne A. streams where they challenge the way we think about the canon of music. Specifically, they take a closer look at how we can care more about music and the artists who make it, and what kind of art takes priority.
Another episode that I include comes from Spontaneous judgment called “J Dilla’s Lost Scrolls.” This episode actually came out in 2014, but I think it’s definitely a gem worth listening to. This story tells the story of a record store owner who stumbles across a collection of records he pulled out of an abandoned storage unit and then learns that the collection belonged to the legendary producer. J. Dilla. It was a very interesting, crazy historical discovery. The episode does a good job of blending curiosity, surprise, a love of music, and a love of the people who create and honor music. The fact that it came out nearly eight years ago and is still going strong made me want to include it.
What are you looking for in a music podcast? What qualities make a show a The best of LINER candidiasisyou?
Intentional stories definitely grab my attention, as well as unique ones, when they have an authentic, raw, real, and vulnerable conversational format. To make art and music, we have to tap into that vulnerable side.
I’m also fascinated when producers experiment with the format, and a good example is the Spotify Original podcast and Sound Up production You heard me write. It’s very interesting to listen to because it feels like an artistic workshop in real time. They give a one- or two-word theme that serves as a source of inspiration for a writer. Then the writer goes and writes a short form written piece. From there, they give this written piece to two different audio artists or musicians as a starting point to create an original piece of sound art. None of the artists are in contact with each other until they come on the show to discuss the process. I find this format really breaks up what a podcast might sound like and does more with the music and the art.
the LINER also offers guest curations of artists to like Doua Lipa and cultural figures such as Hanif Abdurraqim. What’s planned this month?
Every month we find different curators, be they journalists, cultural critics or artists, who are really rooted in the world of music. We really learn about music from their perspective and different podcasts around a specific topic that really interests them. In May, we will have guest curations of Asian and Pacific Islander artists for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
Is there a dream guest curator on your to-do list?
Oh my God, Kendrick Lamar is still on my bucket list when it comes to collaboration. As well Janelle Monae. I think I would like to see what they would organize. I heard Phoebe Bridge workers likes true crime, so that would also be interesting. My hope is to continue to share these stories so that people feel heard and listeners relate to or are inspired by them.
Check out Jessica’s curation, Best of theLINER, which is updated monthly.