Music News

Crank the Volume: Denver Library Distributes Local Music Online

Wheelchair Sports Camp makes its music available through Denver Public Library's Volume project.
Wheelchair Sports Camp makes its music available through Denver Public Library's Volume project. Miles Chrisinger
Back in 2014, librarian Joan Hansen noticed the library had fewer tangible resources for musicians than ever and wanted to connect cardholders to Denver's music scene.

Taking inspiration from then-emerging streaming sites like Bandcamp and SoundCloud, she led Denver Public Library's initiative to launch Volume, a platform where local musicians can upload their albums and library patrons can stream or download local music.

“We had always tried to purchase music CDs from local bands and put them in the collection,” Hansen says. “But it was getting harder and harder to find things; bands weren’t pressing things on CD anymore.... So we thought maybe there was an opportunity for us to host some local music on our website, since we get a lot of website hits.”

Volume is currently accepting submissions from local musicians of any genre until September 29. A handful of library staffers with diverse taste in music will evaluate the submissions, rating them on a scale from one to five. From there, they will put the highest rated recordings online.

Currently, Volume hosts 75 albums across genres from Americana to jazz. Since any local musicians can submit, Hansen says the music that makes the cut represents much of Denver’s music scene.

When filling out the submission form, musicians can provide links to their social-media channels and websites so patrons can learn more about the band, including upcoming concerts.

“[Volume] is a good way for us to have unique content you can’t get everywhere and curate it in a way for people who maybe wouldn’t discover it to find it,” Hansen says. “We actually have pretty good music CD circulation. We have a lot of library users that check out CDs and are pretty passionate about music. I think [Volume is] another discovery platform for everybody.”

Convincing patrons to browse the library's offerings beyond the stacks can be a challenge.

“When people think of the library, they think the library [just] has books,” Hansen explains. “It’s hard to even get people to realize we have e-books. It’s really hard to move outside of your brand and into that awareness [that] we have other stuff, too.”

The library is doing more to boost the local scene that just putting up songs online. The Park Hill and Ross-Cherry Creek library branches have been holding concerts; Central Library occasionally hosts sunrise concerts, complete with coffee and doughnuts; those events are largely attended by patrons experiencing homelessness.

“One of our goals was to connect with the community, including the local music community, and foster that [connection],” Hansen says. “I feel that [live concerts have] been the direction it has naturally gone to. Rather than just the streaming, [there's] live contact.”

Submissions for the next edition of Volume are due September 29. Visit Volume Denver for more information.
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Riley Cowing has been writing with Westword since July 2016. She is originally from Kansas City and graduated from the journalism school at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She enjoys connecting with local artists, drinking all types of espresso and loves any excuse to watch The Devil Wears Prada.
Contact: Riley Cowing