Austin Public Library to stream select Austin music for free in 2019


AUSTIN (KXAN) — All of Austin will soon have more access to 50 local music artists thanks to a new project by the Austin Public Library. 

Starting in early 2019, the library plans to offer a free music streaming service on their website, which means anyone can access it, even if they don’t have a library card. To start off, the streaming service will feature 50 Austin artists selected by a panel of 12 jurors. Applications are now open and continue through November 30. 

Each of the 50 artists or groups selected will receive $200 from the library. It’s not a ton of money, but Dale Kittendorf, the sight and sound director for Austin Public library,  explained that it would take a long time streaming on Spotify to make the same amount of money. Plus, he’s hoping local listeners will show up to listen to the artists they hear in person. 

“It’s a better deal than Spotify unless you’re really popular,” he explained, adding he’s hoping the streaming service gets more hometown exposure for the bands who are selected. 

“We want them to submit, we want the most diverse collection we can get of Austin artists,” explained Dale Kittendorf, who is leading this effort.

The service itself will be called Electric Lady Bird and currently features an Austin grackle on its logo. 
Sunday, Electric Lady Bird had a hype party of sorts at the Central Library featuring many local artists; Kittendorf said several of those groups expressed interest in applying. 

“We are the live music capitol of the world and most libraries across the country are kind of getting into this kind of thing, but for us especially I think it makes a ton of sense,” he said, noting the Seattle library received 400 submissions when they first opened up applications for their streaming service. 

Kittendorf explained that the funds for Electric Lady Bird are coming from the portion of the library’s budget that goes toward buying DVD’s and CD’s, though the library may look into other funding options down the road. 

This project is also helping to carry out the vision championed by Austin’s new Central Library: that the library is not only a place you can go to check out books, but also a community resource center. Kittendorf said the next phase of this project will be having the local bands selected for Electric Lady Bird play at the library and getting the total number of albums in their streaming service up to 100 by the end of 2019. 

“There’s a saying that streaming and vinyl are the current ways of listening to music,” Kittendorf said. “We want the musicians to be successful and we want our library patrons to be entertained, we think its a win-win. It should be fun.”

For more information on Electric Lady Bird and how to participate, look here. 

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