Marketing Your Music Through Your Local Library

Rick-meyers-dreamsjung-flickrNPR recently ran a feature about local public libraries building streamable and downloadable collections of digital music from local musicians. It's a powerful way for libraries to serve members of their community. In fact, even at libaries that don't have such special programs, there are a variety of ways you can promote your music through normal things libraries do.

Clay Masters profiled public library music programs starting off with the Iowa City Library Local Music Project. It's a program featuring free downloads of over 100 albums from local musicians.

He also discussed the Nashville Public Library's curated history of the city's music:

"Initially, we were going to make it for library-card holders only…But it's been decided to do it where we're still curating a Nashville music culture as a permanent online, streamable and downloadable archive, but also allowing that to be available for the world at large."

The fact is, local librarians love featuring local products including music. And though the examples above focus on public libraries, you can interpret local to refer to any community a library serves, from interest groups to college campuses.

Libraries of all kinds tend to do similar things relevant to music marketing:

maintain collections for a community's access and use,

create displays related to the library's collection or broader mission,

offer public presentations that can range from speakers to performers.

All three of these areas offer ways to market one's music:

donating one's music to a local library's collection,

volunteering to provide materials for displays related to local music,

performing for free in a library venue.

The above possibilities can sometimes generate revenue as well. Artists in Iowa City earned licensing fees from their donated music that's then added to the digital collection. Libraries sometimes have funds for performances.

But libraries are also a great place to offer something for free in exchange for marketing. For example, you could create a library campaign around a new release by donating your music, creating a related display and offering a free performance.

Such an approach could be taken with a variety of library settings beyond local public libraries. A classical musician might seek out a rare book room for a performance featuring music of a related time period. A college student might work with the general undergrad library or a specialty library related to their major whether or not that's music.

And, if your local library doesn't feature music by local musicians, talk to them about how you can help. That might just open up a conversation that benefits you as well as your local music scene.

[Thumbnail image of Rick Meyers courtesy Jason Taellious.]

Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at Flux Research and Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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  1. There’s that wonderful four letter word again. Thing is if an artist gives their music to the library for FREE where people can “borrow” it and copy it for FREE, and they offer to perform at the library for FREE, how do they earn any money from this “great” exposure? Oh, I guess they also found a landlord that will give them an apartment or home for FREE…..

  2. The writer of this article seems to think “marketing” is the same as giving music away for free. When authors license their electronic books to the library for Kindle and similar devices, the authors are paid, and the book is lent to the user for a limited time, after which it expires. If libraries actually want to help musicians, they should consider licensing music through arrangements like that, which actually bring musicians and songwriters some revenue.

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