© 2023 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

St. Louis County Library to highlight local musicians through online streaming, app

Melinda Cooper performs with her band Town Cars
Jess Luther | St. Louis Public Radio
Melinda Cooper performs with her band Town Cars

Local musician Melinda Cooper remembers the exact moment she fell in love with songwriting.  Decades ago, it was snowing outside and she was driving down Interstate 44 when Stephen Merritt’s song “Falling Out Of Love (With You)” began playing on her car radio.  She immediately changed course and drove to Vintage Vinyl to buy the album.

Cooper hopes submitting her music to the St. Louis County Library’s new local music initiative — which will allow music fans to stream local music on computers and eventually an app — gives someone else a similar feeling.

“If having it accessible through the library makes it so that maybe that happens with somebody, that’s great,” she said.

Cooper is one of the first 60 local performers to submit songs to the library’s new local music initiative since Oct. 1. The library launched the program this month to extend resources to nontraditional library patrons and highlight the local music scene, according to director Kristen Sorth. Submitted music will be collected, catalogued and made available to library members.

“We’re hoping to attract a lot of people to our website and our app that wouldn’t necessarily think of the library for this kind of thing,” she said. “We just try to be creative and respond to the needs of our community, and do things that are innovative, and interesting, and make the community an interesting place, a fun place, a healthy place.”

Sorth said the new initiative is a logical extension of the community’s desire “to be challenged or to find new things that they’re interested in and so they come to the library a lot to expand their horizons.” It relies on software developed by BiblioBoards, LLC.

She argued the new local music repository will give patrons a chance to do just that.

Cooper agrees. She already uses the library to explore their current music offerings.  The project already plays into the library’s strength — its ability to facilitate undirected browsing , Cooper said.

“The library makes the stumble-upon factor way, way bigger,” Cooper said. “You go in and you start browsing through the library and somebody might just like your album cover and have no idea who you are. They might just, like, see a picture and be like, 'What’s this? And I can listen to it for free? Great!'”

Woah Thunder
Credit Provided by Woah Thunder
Whoa Thunder

Composer and multi-instrumentalist Brian McClelland of the group Whoa Thunder also thinks the program may help introduce local musicians to new audiences.

“Anything that puts local musicians and their music in the hands and ears of new audiences is always a goal worth going for, especially if it’s a lot of people that wouldn’t have access or maybe wouldn’t check out something that’s not mainstream radio,” McClelland said.

The initiative was launched while several libraries in the system undergo significant renovations. The first round of submissions will be accepted through the end of October.  The library will open one more submission period in the coming year. The music will be made available to stream after the submission windows are closed.

Follow Willis Ryder Arnold on Twitter @WillisRArnold

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.