Madison Public Library offers free, local music - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Madison Public Library offers free, local music

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MADISON (WKOW)-- The latest collection at the Madison Public Library is not on the shelves and you don't have to return it. The Yahara Music Library is an online collection of local music that library card holders can stream or download for free.

“In the beginning with developing the initial collection, what we wanted to do was create a balance among genres,” said Guy Hankel, the music librarian. “We didn't want to make it all rock or all country or whatever,”

Right now, to download the music you log in to the site with your library card number, but Hankel says in the near future there will be an app so you can get the songs right on your phone. So far there are 23 albums available and that number will grow each week.

“The idea is that in the future we can move toward a larger archive of Madison music and begin to build an archive of Madison music history,” Hankel said.

One of the featured artists is Ben Sidran.

“This is a place where people can go to find music, to find out about Madison music and that's what we need,” Sidran said. “We need points of focus for people to find the music.”

The Library board approved $80,000 from an endowment fund to jumpstart the project. That allows the library to pay each artist a $200 licensing fee, that lasts five years. The artists have an option to renew at the end of that time. The artists must own the rights to their music and it must be original work.

“It's legally obtaining music, but we're also going out of our way to leverage library resources to promote these artists and make our library card holders discover music they otherwise wouldn't,” Hankel said.

Sidran says he hopes area musicians jump on board.

“I think local artists should come together and make their music available,” Sidran said. “You know, musicians are always concerned about their music being misappropriated, but honestly it's a bigger problem trying to get your music heard.”

The online collection launched Friday and already there is growing interest in library cards.

To check out the music, go to and for information on getting a library card click here.

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