"Seattle adopts a MUSICat" is our favorite title ever. Check out the piece to learn how The Seattle Public is using MUSICat to reach new audiences and create new partnerships.
Check out the latest Library as Incubator post on our work: a piece co-written by CEO Kelly Hiser and Andrew Harbison, Seattle's Assistant Director of Collections and Access. Here's an excerpt:
"These kinds of collections—built on a licensing relationship between the library and the artist—seem to automatically generate engagement that goes beyond collection use, teaching communities about the amazing work their neighbors create. This makes PlayBack the perfect project for The Seattle Public Library, which has a strategic goal of engaging local creative communities in new ways by offering relevant, inclusive, and participatory programs and services, as well as representing the work of these communities in the Library’s collections."
From Judy Newman at the WSJ:
Nashville is known as “Music City,” and Madison music startup Rabble will help polish that image by bringing the songs of Nashville’s local bands to that city’s libraries.
Rabble’s MUSICat program provides a curated selection of local bands to a community, making the selections available to residents via their libraries.
The Nashville Public Library will be Rabble’s latest client, with BoomBox scheduled to go live within days. Seattle’s public library system came on board in August with its PlayBack program, offering 50 albums by Seattle-area bands.
Those are in addition to collections Rabble has compiled for Madison and Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
“This is exceptionally good stuff. Libraries are doing important work, creating digital public spaces, and we’re proud to be part of it,” said Rabble CEO Kelly Hiser, who holds a doctorate in musicology.
She said Rabble is finalizing contracts with two more library systems – whose names can’t be released yet. They are expected to launch by the end of the year.
Click through to the story to read more...
12 August 2016
On Monday, August 8, Madison-based startup Rabble launched PlayBack with The Seattle Public Library, a new curated collection of local music. PlayBack debuts with fifty albums by Seattle-area musicians that anyone can stream, and SPL cardholders can download. PlayBack joins Madison’s Yahara Music Library and Edmonton’s Capital City Records on Rabble’s MUSICat platform. Rabble will launch new sites with several additional partner libraries in 2016, including the Nashville Public Library.
“Go to the sites. Listen to the music,” Rabble co-founder and CEO Kelly Hiser said. “This is exceptionally good stuff. Libraries are doing important work, creating digital public spaces, and we’re proud to be part of it.”
“The public library world is an incredibly exciting space right now,” says Hiser. “Libraries across the world are reestablishing themselves as creative community hubs, housing art galleries, makerspaces, and concert venues. Library initiatives that celebrate and invest in local work are generating tons of energy. MUSICat sites don’t just channel that energy into online collections—they actually cycle it back into the community, facilitating new collaborations between libraries, artists, and cultural organizations.”
MUSICat fills a gap in the library software market, which offers few options for libraries looking to curate and share local content. MUSICat gives librarians tools to collect and publish local music, licensing albums on library-friendly terms and directly compensating artists.
Hiser, a PhD musicologist, grounds Rabble’s work in critical thinking about technology, art, and value. She leads a team of three that includes co-founder and Technical Architect Preston Austin and Technical Lead Bill Blondeau.
Hiser and her co-founders have bootstrapped Rabble in the two years since its founding, in part by building strong relationships in Madison’s university, library, and entrepreneurial communities. Rabble has partnered with the UW-Madison Center for the Humanities, works primarily out of Horizon Coworking, and leverages Hiser’s and Austin’s connections in local library and technology communities.
Edmonton Public Library’s digital local music collection Capital City Records has been named the 2016 recipient of the CLA/OCLC Award for Innovative Technology. According to this press release from the Canadian Library Association, “Capital City Records: Edmonton Local Music is an innovative example of leadership within libraries in the realm of digital content. Capital City Records has enhanced how EPL collects local music and heralded an increase in musical events and programming at the library.”
The award will be presented on June 1, 2016, at the CLA National Forum in Ottawa. Congratulations to our EPL and Rabble team!
We had a great time at the Public Library Association 2016 Conference! Co-founders Kelly Hiser and Preston Austin traveled to Denver for the conference, where they participated in several events about digital local music collections. Here are a few highlights from our trip.
“[Your Community Here]: Engaging Audiences and Artists with Local Digital Collections.” In this PLA program, Kelly, Alex Carruthers (Edmonton PL, and Guy Hankel (Madison PL) gave a behind-the-scenes look at what it took to create the Yahara Music Library and Capital City Records. Kelly also spoke about the impetus behind these sites, highlighting how they sit at the intersection of two important trends. The first is the long-standing relationship between public libraries and their local creative communities, which has recently been reflected in library initiatives like makerspaces, publishing initiatives, and art galleries. The second is the increasingly digital nature of music distribution, which is having a big impact on libraries’ abilities to provide access to music and preserve it for the future. While local collections like Capital City Records and the Yahara Music Library can’t solve all of the problems that exist for music librarians, Kelly argued that they are one powerful response that plays to libraries’ strengths by leveraging existing relationships with the community.
- Local Music Meetup. We also co-hosted a meetup of public librarians and software developers who work with or have an interest in digital local music collections at the Denver Public Library (home to its own local music project Volume). This informal conversation focused on the successes and challenges we’ve experienced in building these kinds of collections. One of our biggest take-aways was that library digital local collections do become hubs for creative communities. Many librarians reported that their local music projects were helping them to build new relationships with artists, music listeners, and arts and civic organizations in their communities. We look forward to continuing the conversation with this dynamic network.
Photo: Preston Austin (Rabble), Greg Mickells (Madison PL), Kelly Hiser (Rabble), Tana Elias (Madison PL), at PLA 2016.
The Knight Foundation supports initiatives in a range of areas, from journalism to the arts. Their Knight News Challenge funds "breakthrough ideas in news and information." The current challenge asks "How might libraries serve 21st century information needs?"
We believe MUSICat serves new information needs in three critical ways:
First, by empowering librarians to license music on terms that restore their library’s ability to freely share and preserve music for public access. As music distribution moves more and more to an “online only” model, libraries are able to collect and lend less and less of it. The library-friendly licensing that MUSICat supports is a powerful response to what some music librarians are calling an “existential crisis.”
Second, we strive to build software that reflects the needs and values of libraries. That's why we're committed to open releases of our code, improving accessibility, user privacy, and library ownership in digital music collecting.
Finally, MUSICat responds to 21st-century information needs by facilitating new ways for libraries to connect local artists with their communities. In recent years, librarians have reimagined the role of libraries as hubs for creative communities. The results are scores of new initiatives, from art galleries to maker spaces to publications. MUSICat brings this trend into the digital realm.
We'd love to get your feedback on our entry. Create an account to comment or "applaud" the entry at the Knight Foundation's site.
Could public libraries “help fill the void left by the ongoing disappearance of mom-and-pop record stores” by becoming centers for local music?
Check out this article from Xconomy to learn more about where we’ve been, what’s new with MUSICat, and where we’re headed. As co-founder Preston Austin says, "Ultimately, what we're really going for is more people being able to connect to their local music scene."
Lisa Hollenbach recently joined our Rabble team as a 2015-2016 Public Humanities Fellow with the UW-Madison Center for the Humanities. Check out her recent blog post on the Library as Incubator Project about how current research and initiatives in the humanities inform the kind of software we build.
As she writes, "Libraries and universities are natural institutional partners, and of course libraries have always been incubators of research. But how can librarians, researchers, and artists . . . connect and share resources to grow local communities for art? How can we connect 'incubators' of art and research with 'incubators' of technology?"
Photo credit: Aerial View of Campus, with Helen C. White Hall in foreground by college.library, CC BY 2.0