Library's Streaming Service Curates Music For Patrons, While Helping Austin Artists Find New Fans

Jun 14, 2019

The Austin Public Library launched its own music streaming service late last year, offering up a collection of tracks by local musicians. Electric Lady Bird is free for anyone – whether or not you have a library card.

The idea behind the service is to share Austin music and to help practicing musicians find new fans.

“We kind of have a two-fold purpose with this,” Dale Kittendorf, Austin Central Library’s sight and sound curator, says. “[One part] is curating music for our patrons … but the other part is to actually help the musicians. So, as a part of this, we’re paying them. That was a big part of it."

Once music has been submitted, a panel listens and selects albums and EPs to add to the platform. Musicians who are chosen to be a part of Electric Lady Bird are paid $200 per album (or $100 for an EP) for the non-exclusive streaming deal.

That’s not a whole lot of money, but as Kittendorf points out, “that’s maybe better than Spotify or something like that.”

The library's aim is to have a submission period every six months or so; the second submission period is going on now. Austin artists can submit music through the end of June.

“In the first round, we had approximately 200 submissions of one to three songs each,” Kittendorf says. “We selected 50 of them.”

Another 50 artists will be added to Electric Lady Bird during this second round. The selection will remain small compared to the larger streaming services out there. That’s partly because of the project’s limited budget and partly by choice.

“We do want to keep it curated,” Kittendorf says. “Part of the appeal is for people to come to Electric Lady Bird and look at the selection of music that we have curated, so you’re getting a really nice slice of what Austin has to offer.”

Kittendorf and his team are working to make sure listeners can find all different types of local music.

“We really want to get to all the corners of Austin music,” he says. “You know – reggae and jazz music and blues and Americana, which is a very deep well. [There will be] a bunch of different varieties, so you might find an artist that you already know and love but hopefully you’ll discover something new. Maybe become a fan and go out and see them. And that’s the beauty.”

You can listen to Electric Lady Bird here and submit your own music here.