Angela Pratesi, University of Northern Iowa

In recent years, musicians have been experimenting with new models for distributing recordings. As Judy Tsou and John Vallier have investigated, streaming music, especially streaming-only music, presents a number of new access and preservation challenges for libraries. Some musicians are going even further, upending the entire music industry distribution model, by offering their music for free download online. Certain rap and hip-hop artists are democratizing access to their music via DRM-free downloads; because information wants to be free, these artists are making it free. They profit from their creative work in other ways.

In theory, while anyone has access through this distribution model, it challenges core library services and values, such as providing access to those in the digital divide and preserving recordings. In an attempt to bridge the divide and provide alternate access, some public libraries have opted to download the albums, record them to CD, and offer them for circulation. In order to preserve, the Internet Archive provides an alternate path, serving as a freely accessible online repository.

This poster will explain the challenges this distribution model poses to libraries using recordings by Chance the Rapper, Run the Jewels, and Kendrick Lamar as case studies. It will suggest potential solutions that will help librarians determine the best way for their library to collect, provide access, and preserve this music for patrons.

Conference Materials available: