by: Matt Miller
Like books, CDs have gone the way of vinyl and cassette.
This generation's musicians are emerging in a digital landscape. Albums are
sold as MP3s, branding is done through social media, and many times the
instruments themselves are nothing more than laptops and hard drives. Music,
along with technology, moves quickly, and it's up to traditionalists to catch
up. In the year of its 125th birthday, the Denver Public Library is hitting play on a
digital means to disseminate local music to the community.
Sept. 11 marks the official launch of Volume Denver, the library's online
collection of local music that's available for free streaming and download for
anyone with a library card. Currently, the site has 38 albums available,
including local favorites Esmé Patterson and
Ian Cookeand genres
ranging from Americana to hip-hop.
"We thought this could be an amazing opportunity to connect with our local
community," said Volume project manager Zeth Lietzau. The Denver Public Library
will celebrate the launch of Volume, along with the library's 125th birthday,
with "Overdue: Beer, Books and Bands" at the McNichols Building on Sept. 11. The
event features samples from local breweries, food trucks and performances from
Ian Cooke, Plat Maravich and Switchyard Social Club.
Taking the idea from a handful of experimental libraries across the country,
DPL started building Volume last winter and soft-launched the site on Aug. 5.
Since the soft launch, Volume has had 200 albums downloaded, 2,000 tracks
downloaded and 6,000 tracks played.
Volume is directed toward two primary audiences, Lietzau said. The first is
younger people who don't realize the type of services the library can offer.
"We tend to lose a lot of people in their 20s and early 30s," Lietzau said.
The second targeted audience is the people already using the library who
might not know the local music scene.
But with many — if not all — local artists familiar with or already using
traditional channels of sharing music like Bandcamp, Soundcloud or Spotify, what would pull users away from
established services to the Denver Public Library's Volume?
"I think the one thing that we have is the specifically local piece," Lietzau
said. "What we're trying to find is a place that creates a really Denver-centric
community. That's a niche that people are interested in."
The service is local to its core — any band that's not based in Colorado
isn't allowed to be included in Volume. To compile these local artists, DPL
started by putting out a call for submissions.
For this first batch of local musicians, Volume received 91 submissions and
selected 50 of those using a committee consisting of library staff and local
music enthusiasts who have worked in record stores or reviewed music.
"Hopefully, the fact that they make it through is a source of pride," Lietzau
said. "But the biggest thing for them is that local exposure."
While getting some major players in the Colorado music scene — like
OneRepublic, The Fray and others — would provide great visibility for Volume,
Lietzau said that record label restrictions would deter bigger bands from
But, for smaller bands not yet signed to a record deal, this isn't an issue.
In fact, unlike many major online streaming services, Volume will pay artists
for their music. Volume gives musicians $100 to host a full album for two
As of now, the Volume budget will support 100 albums a year. This budget, and
the number of albums available, will grow if Volume proves to be successful.
"We would gauge success on how often things are downloaded," Lietzau
from: Denver Post