Public libraries are sometimes much more open to experimentation than local patrons recognize. Many libraries offer access to ebooks and some are exploring digital music. Iowa City Public Library's Local Music Project is one effort to make local music available in digital form to their patrons. It's a creative approach to licensing that's focused on building local listeners rather than on major revenue streams.
Iowa City Public Library's Local Music Project offers free downloads of local musicians for those with a library card. Each individual page features album cover art, 30 second samples and a link back to the artist's site. Library card holders log in to download.
Musician outreach and licensing is handled by a staff member who contacts local bands for the program. At least 58 local acts have responded who were usually paid $100 for a two year license.
Response has been positive on all sides and musicians see it as an opportunity to reach new listeners in their community. For example, musician Patrick Bloom said
"The ICPL has offered the artists involved a basic licensing fee, which seems appropriate to me. The library is a community resource and shouldn't be considered a profit center...I'm happy to have my music offered to folks who may not have heard of me previously, and who may then share their excitement about the music with others."
The reality is that business models based on library sales are based on selling to lots of libraries. Though the Local Music Project might not become a major revenue stream for musicians, Senior Librarian John Hiett wants to see it grow:
"My wilder dreams include a statewide consortium, that could offer musicians some real money, and library users a much wider selection."
The Local Music Project sounds like a real win for Iowa City musicians and music fans. Perhaps it's something you can recommend at your local library.
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) maintains a business writing hub at Flux Research and blogs at Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.