Libraries are more than a place to check out books. The Huntsville-Madison County Public Library (HMCPL) launched a new local music streaming platform called Blast that features over 40 musicians from the Tennessee Valley. HMCPL is only the fourteenth library system in the country to offer this service, joining large music cities such as Austin, Nashville and Seattle.
Blast is the Library’s living music collection that documents North Alabama’s vital, evolving music scene. Music lovers will be able stream sounds from a local community of diverse artists anytime, anywhere.
“Blast is another avenue for HMCPL to connect with our community. By working in alignment with the music initiative of the City of Huntsville, we are not only showcasing the talents of our local musicians, but potentially introducing them to a national audience,” said Annie Phillips, HMCPL’s Digital Services Manager and Blast’s project manager. “Because you can stream Blast without a library card anytime, anywhere.”
The project began in January of 2021, when Library leadership began researching how HMCPL could become more connected and involved in the local music scene. HMCPL partnered with a company called Rabble, who developed the online streaming service exclusively for local music and libraries. They also met with the Huntsville Music Board to get their insight and support.
“When I first heard about Blast a few months back I thought it was not only a great opportunity for area musicians to connect with listeners but also a fabulous way for them to benefit financially from their art,” said Mark Torstenson, Huntsville Music Board Chair. “I think the platform and licensing arrangement make this a win-win for music-makers and music-lovers alike.”
After setting up the service and establishing a curator team, which includes music insiders Codie Gopher and Michael Kilpatrick, the Library opened up the first round of submissions in June 2021.
“The response overwhelmingly exceeded our expectations,” said Phillips. “We were so happy to get so many artists during our very first round.”
The Library plans to open up the platform for submissions twice a year, with its next one planned for early 2022. Any musicians interested in signing up for the next round can email email@example.com to get notified. Artists from the counties of North Alabama (Colbert, DeKalb, Franklin, Jackson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marshall, Morgan) are eligible.
Artists are compensated with an honorarium made possible by funding through the Marguerite Cartwright Hawthorne Foundation.
“As a cultural institution, the Library wants to educate our community of the talent we have here and connect the two, and build a catalog of music for posterity and discovery,” said Phillips. “We are proud to add Blast to the tool kit on Huntsville’s journey to becoming Alabama’s first designated Music City.”
The Library has additional plans for Blast for the future; it is collaborating with the Huntsville Amphitheater to showcase Blast artists live at the venue after it opens next year.
For more information about Blast, including how to submit music, please visit the website: blast.hmcpl.org
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