Library’s new streaming platform will feature music of northeast Kansas artists

photo by: Contributed graphic

This month, the Lawrence Public Library released the Kaw Valley Jukebox: a free, curated, online streaming service featuring artists from Northeast Kansas.

The Lawrence Public Library has launched a free online streaming platform featuring the music of northeast Kansas artists, both past and present, called the Kaw Valley Jukebox.

It’s meant to be an archive of music history in Lawrence, project manager Kevin Corcoran said, but it’s also meant to be an active site where new music is added twice a year.

“Archives: They don’t feel living,” Corcoran said. “With Kaw Valley Jukebox, we’d like to remain engaged with the community.”

The library is currently calling for local musicians to submit their work via the site’s new platform: music.lplks.org. Artists who have produced an EP or full-length album and who live or regularly perform in northeast Kansas are encouraged to submit their music through July 31. For local artists or bands seeking to submit who can’t make the July deadline, the library currently plans to host two submission periods each year.

Corcoran, who serves as the collection development librarian, has worked at the Lawrence Public Library since 2016. When he started, he was disappointed that the library’s former music endeavor, the Lawrence Music Project, had stalled out.

The Kaw Valley Jukebox is a revival of that project, and Corcoran and library director Brad Allen believe it will be better than before. The new streaming platform has an embedded player that allows visitors to listen to music while exploring the website, Allen said, and it also has a cleaner look.

The library partnered with Musiccat to create the website. The initial cost of the project, which includes startup fees and the first year of operation, was $6,000. Corcoran and Allen said that money came from the Lawrence Public Library Friends & Foundation, and that future costs for the project, which will be about $4,500 a year, will be included in the library’s normal budget as part of collection management.

Allen said his hope is that the Kaw Valley Jukebox points people to local music both past and present.

“I think our main goal is to amplify — no pun intended — these different bands and the work that they are doing and point people to where they exist online,” he said.

Kaw Valley Jukebox users may listen to the music, but may not download any individual songs. For active bands, the site will link to artists’ social media pages or websites. The agreement is not exclusive, and artists may share or sell their content anywhere else they want.

Joel Bonner, a technology assistant at the library and a Lawrence musician, said the Kaw Valley Jukebox will be a good way to support local artists from home during the pandemic. He said the music scene in Lawrence is diverse, and that “the Kaw Valley Jukebox would be a really wonderful place to get all of that compiled together and easily accessible for anyone curious about the scene.”

When bars and music venues in town open back up, Bonner hopes locals will have a better idea of what bands or artists they’d like to go see.

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