Kent District Library to Launch Local Music Streaming Platform

Michigan’s Kent District Library (KDL) is preparing to launch KDL Vibes, a free streaming platform created to showcase local music.

profile photo of a man with a beard wearing large headphonesMichigan’s Kent District Library (KDL) is preparing to launch KDL Vibes, a free streaming platform created to showcase local music.

“It’s a really diverse, exciting, ever-growing [music] scene here” in Grand Rapids and western Michigan, explained David Specht, digital marketing strategist for KDL. “I think one of the neat things about this platform is that there’s so many up-and-coming artists and even established artists within the scene here who many of our patrons may never have heard of…. If you’re not going out of your way to discover local music, it’s easy to miss.” Similarly, he added, “many of the musicians are probably unfamiliar with all that the library has to offer.”

Faye Harbison, branch librarian for KDL, said that “this is a huge community that we’ve never really interacted with on much of a scale…. Within KDL, I think we’ve started to connect with local creators—whether it’s artists, or musicians in this case—it’s an obvious pairing” with libraries.

KDL will add music to the platform following two submission periods of about six weeks each year. During these submission periods, artists will be encouraged to send songs for review using an online form at A jury of curators will then review the submissions and decide which albums to add to the KDL Vibes collection—a maximum of one per musical act each calendar year. Harbison explained that the jury divided submissions by genre. Jurors have all selected genres that they feel comfortable judging, and each genre had at least two to three jurors making selections.

The initial submission period was held from mid-August through September. KDL is planning to have 40 to 50 albums selected for the platform’s launch this fall, and hopes to add 20–25 new albums during subsequent biennial submission periods. Bands are encouraged to upload CD quality, lossless 16-bit 44.1kHz stereo WAV files, although KDL Vibes is currently also accepting AIFF files and MP3 files at 256kbps or better.

Artists selected through this process sign a licensing agreement with KDL, confirming that they have the rights to license all of the songs they would be uploading—including lyrics, compositions, and album artwork—and agreeing to have their work hosted on the platform for two years, where it will be available to anyone for free streaming or, for KDL cardholders, streaming or permanent download. Bands are given a one-time honorarium of $250 for each accepted album of at least four songs, but retain all rights to their music and can share or sell their music anywhere else they want. After two years, they can request to remove their content from the platform.

Currently, KDL plans to limit selections to albums produced within the past five years, although Specht said that, once selected, albums would “live on the platform indefinitely” as long as artists do not request removal due to conflicts with other licensing deals.

“I would imagine the collection will just continue to keep growing,” Specht said. “There won’t be too many dips in the number of albums available to our patrons.”

KDL Vibes was created with Rabble LLC’s MUSICat platform, which more than a dozen libraries, including the Nashville Public Library, Austin Public Library, and Seattle Public Library, have used to create local music streaming services. On a FAQ page, KDL states that other libraries interested in launching a similar service are welcome to adapt its license agreements and other site text from as needed.

KDL’s jury of curators currently includes Specht and eight others involved in the local music scene, including Hugo Claudin, multidisciplinary artist and curator of the multimedia performance space Méxicains Sans Frontiéres; Gabriella De La Vega, radio personality at WYCE 88.1 FM and president of the Mexican Heritage Association; Eric Green, programmer for WYCE 88.1 FM; Laura Nowe, music festival coordinator and WYCE 88.1 FM personality; Ted Smith, co-owner of the Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill (which regularly hosts live music shows); musician Linda "Lady Ace Boogie" Tellis, winner of three WYCE Jammie Awards and a Feminist Leadership Award by the National Organization for Women; Andrea "SuperDre" Wallace, producer, DJ, entrepreneur, founder of music-tech startup Fourtifeye, and CEO of the booking and concert organizing platform Opnr; and Jake Wunderink, sound tech for the Wealthy Theatre and volunteer DJ for WYCE 88.1 FM.

“We were able to get out to quite a few different people [familiar with] different genres and segments of the population, really through personal connections, which was really great,” Harbison said. “It also builds that connection between the library and the local music scene.”

Specht added that “it is definitely a passion project for all of the folks involved. It’s an opportunity to expose our patrons to a music scene that they might not even know exists…. In a similar fashion to everything else we do at the library, we’re trying to make this accessible to our patron base…and I think it benefits the musicians, in that we’re giving them a new audience of a couple hundred thousand people, potentially, who have never heard of any of these local bands. I think it’s kind of cool that we’re bridging these two communities together.”

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Matt Enis


Matt Enis ( is Senior Editor, Technology for Library Journal.

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