A Site about Libraries, Information Technology, and the Random Questions You'll Encounter Along the Way
So I meant to post this yesterday, but something came up that I had to take care of. Yesterday was International Happiness Day, which is an actual holiday that I am in no way making up. One of the ways that it was being celebrated was for people to post songs they enjoy at #HappySoundsLike (the UN’s secretary general Ban Ki-moon’s was Stevie Wonder’s Signed, Sealed, Delivered). And since I’ve been meaning to post something about resources for patron’s looking for music, along with my much delayed review of Eleanor & Park which I promise I’ll post this Monday, I thought I’d post some links to resources you can use to help patrons find music.
1. Freegal – Freegal is a subscription based service that enables patrons to permanently download a limited number of tracks from the Sony catalogue per week, with the library paying for each download individually. Although Freegal is very popular among public libraries, my home library recently started a subscription with them, it is not without its detractors. Sarah Houghton of Librarian in Black fame wrote a scathing review of Freegal and how its pay-per-use business model actually costs libraries more than a CD would, the fact that patrons only have access to music from one record label, and their lack of customer service, so this might be one services your library should really discuss before deciding to purchase a subscription.
2. Pandora Internet Radio – Pandora is a subscription-based music streaming service with just under a million titles. While it might not have the number of titles that other services provide, it is fairly cheap at only $ 4.99 /month and works on a number of platforms including Android, Apple iPhone IOS, Windows, and HP, in addition to some vehicles including Fords, Hondas, and Lincolns. It is easy to use and modifies what songs it recommends based on user’s previous choices, which includes rhythm, key tonality, and types of instruments used. The one downside is that it has some DRM issues, including the fact that users aren’t able to rewind a song or repeat it, and can only skip six songs per station. Additionally, there are ads but overall, it is defiantly a service I would still recommend that libraries investigate.
3. Spotify – While a bit costlier than Pandora at $ 9.99 a month and forcing users to sit through 30 second adds between streamed tracks, Spotify has over 20 million titles and includes a number of features absent in Pandora. Users can search by artist, label, or genre, create playlists and share their favorite songs via Facebook and Twitter, and while Spotify does not automatically create preference-based playlists, it does integrate with Last.fm. It works on a number of platforms including Android, Apple iPhone IOS, Windows Mobile 6.x, and Linus. Spotify does force non-paying users to sit through 15 second ads, in addition to having to deal with display ads and homepage takeovers, but considering that your library will have a subscription to it, this shouldn’t be a problem. Out of all of these, this is probably my favorite and is something I would highly recommend libraries looking into.
4. Discogs – This is a great resource for finding information about specific songs or records for patrons, and best of all, it’s free! Discogs is a user-generated cross-referenced database that has entries on over 5 million physical & digital releases, artists, and labels. It provides information on distributors, publishers, rights holders, and has a fully facetted search feature. It is available in a number of languages from Korean to Finnish, and in 2014, started a side project website called VinylHub, which has information record shops planet-wide including their location, contact information, and items they have in stock.
5. Shazam – Another useful resource for helping patrons find information about a specific song or artist is Shazam. A free app, Shazam uses a smartphone’s built-in microphone to creates an acoustic fingerprint of a song based on the sample, and compares it against a central database of over 15 billion songs. If it finds a match, it sends information such as the song’s title, the artist’s biography and discography, song lyrics, and recommendations for similar songs back to the user. It operates on a number of platforms including Android, Apple iPhone IOS, and Windows. This is an incredibly useful app that I’ve used more than once to help a patron find an obscure song (one time I just had the patron hum a few bars), and I would definitely recommend it!
As libraries continue to compete with companies that provide digital streaming services, it is increasingly important that we’re able to provide the kinds of services that our patrons have come to expect. While libraries done a good job covering e-books and e-audio, in addition to digital media streaming services like Hoopla, one area we still seem to be struggling with is music. Thanks to our experience with Overdrive and Hoopla, we know what we need to do, now we just need to decide on which service best meets the needs of our patrons and the libraries themselves. I hope this post was helpful and as always, if you think I’ve missed anything or want to comment, please feel free. And as an obligatory bit of this post, I’ll leave you with Pharrell William’s Happy.