The Hennepin County Library just made it easier to listen to your favorite local artists — and maybe discover some new ones, too.
Last week, the Hennepin County Library launched MnSpin, an online streaming and download service that contains over 50 albums by local artists. The project captures the diversity of today’s local scene, representing a plethora of genres from rock and pop to hip-hop, classical, and Americana.
MnSpin allows anyone to stream the albums for free online, and library card holders can download them. In its first day, listeners streamed over 2,800 songs.
MnSpin is modeled after similar services offered by libraries around the country. The Hennepin County Library has a long history of offering music to its patrons. However, in recent years, it has become more difficult to access physical copies.
“We were having a more difficult time purchasing local musicians’ CDs because many musicians are opting out of CDs,” explains library staffer Johannah Genett. With MnSpin, the library hopes to continue to support local artists and make their music accesible to a wider audience. Funding for MnSpin came from private donors.
To choose music to include on MnSpin, the Hennepin County Library asked for submissions from local artists. They organized a group of curators to select the albums to include on the service. Curators included classical and contemporary soprano Maria Jette; musician J.D. Steele; Cedar Cultural Center artistic director Jessica Rau; and library staff.
The library hoped to receive around 150 or 200 music submissions, but ended up receiving over 300. When choosing artists to include in MnSpin, curators aimed to reflect the diversity of Minnesota music. “We really wanted to make sure we hit all the different genres as much as we could,” said Genett. Although MnSpin currently includes 53 albums, Genett explained that the library hopes to add more in 2018.
The library also wanted to ensure that MnSpin reflects what is happening in the local music scene today. “What we’re hoping is that this really adds to our music community,” said Genett. “So we wanted to highlight musicians, where you could look them up and see, ‘Hey, maybe they’re playing at 7th St Entry!’ and go out and actually see the musicians.”
Musicians were paid $200 up front for each album featured on MnSpin. “The fact that the musicians and these bands were paid upfront for the streaming services, that’s a really important value,” says Rau. “It’s really important to support artists, especially our local artists monetarily. They’re trying to make a living, and they’ve got an amazing talent, and we should be paying them for it.”
Colleen Cowie is a student at Macalester College. She hosts the show Locally Sourced on WMCN.