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Explore a World of Online Music With Your Library Card

Daniel Tures, Adult Librarian, Frances Howard Goldwyn - Hollywood Regional Library,
women holding her library card wearing headphones

“Music… will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you.” ―Dietrich Bonhoeffer

In good times and bad, music can help. Great music can be inspiring, healing, energizing or soothing, the perfect way to elevate your day or deepen your mood. And your library card gives you free online access to vast music streaming and downloading resources you can start exploring right now!

Blind musician at his piano
Blind musician tapes own show at his piano, [1963]. Photo credit: George Brich, Valley Times Collection

On the e-media page of our website, click on any of our providers and create a free account with your library card number. Many offer several kinds of media collections―Overdrive has e-books and audiobooks, Kanopy has curated collections of streaming movies, RBDigital has magazines. hoopla and Freegal are wonderful sites to discover and enjoy music (and more).

punk rockers rush the stage
Circle Jerks Show at the Starwood Club in West Hollywood, [1981]. Photo credit: Gary Leonard

hoopla lets you borrow 15 titles per month, and then access them at any time on any of your devices, including e-books, movies, and albums. This gives you free access not only to chart-toppers like Billie Eilish, Lizzo, Lana Del Rey and Post Malone, but also to an incredibly deep vault of world music (over 10,000 titles), new and classic jazz (almost 15,000 titles) and a very satisfying metal selection (6,500 titles). Their category page makes for fun browsing and discovery. Personalize your hoopla by marking titles you’ve enjoyed as "favorites", and discover new ones with their sound-alike suggestions at the bottom of every page. For example, I borrowed the new album The Slow Rush from Aussie psych-rockers Tame Impala, and Hoopla offered the very helpful recommendations of similar bands Dungen, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and White Denim.

beastie boys and Run DMC
Adam Horovitz (left) and Mike D. (right) of the Beastie Boys are about to enter the Shrine Auditorium with Jam Master Flash of Run-D.M.C for the 29th Annual Grammy Awards, [1987]. Photo credit: Leo Jarzomb, Herald Examiner Collection

“Love is friendship set to music.” ―Jackson Pollock

Freegal has more of an indie vibe but also a vast selection that’s hard to stump, and best of all, unlimited streaming. The playlists are particularly fun and edifying. Freegal and its community have created hundreds of playlists for every mood and occasion. This yacht rock playlist is the guiltiest of guilty pleasure cruises, full of underappreciated groovers like Ned Doheny and 10CC. Browse delightful playlists created by the Los Angeles Public Library community, and make your own! Every artist page connects you with songs, albums, compilation appearances, and videos, as well as any related books and audiobooks.

Their catalog is unbelievably deep―with the recent passing of industrial visionary Genesis P-Orridge, I searched for h/er far-from-the-mainstream 80s band Psychic TV and Freegal immediately offered some forty albums and related projects. You can also download and keep (!) five songs per month.

street musician playing a xylophone
A xylophone player performs impromptu music on Venice Oceanfront Walk, [1979]. Security Pacific National Bank Collection

“Who hears music, feels his solitude peopled at once.” ―Robert Browning

In stressful times, mellow music can help you unwind, heal and regain your focus. If that’s what you’re looking for, here’s my newly created Freegal playlist, Soothing Sounds for Now People. It features mostly lesser-known musicians from the 60s and 70s who are now looked to as inspiration for contemporary ambient music.

We start with a lovely Fender Rhodes electric piano meditation by Steven Halpern from his 1975 Spectrum Suite album, which is often considered the first proper new age album (though some opt for Tony Scott’s 1964 Music for Zen Meditation). Freegal even has the extra-long version of Spectrum Suite with bonus tracks I never knew existed! From there we move to a tune from Light In the Attic’s mind-blowing new compilation of vintage Japanese environmental music, Kankyo Ongaku―stream the entire thing on Freegal if you like this piece. I was amazed to find a Linda Cohen album on Freegal, 1972’s Leda―gentle guitar explorations from a pioneer affiliated with Philly psych cohort Mandrake Memorial. A vibraphone tune from Lem Winchester, mystic jazz harp from Dorothy Ashby, searching high-desert piano from the master Harold Budd, chamber-music new wave from Manchester stalwarts the Durutti Column, and more.

 

“All the good music has already been written by people with wigs and stuff.” ―Frank Zappa

Hope it all helps shine a little light on your day. Create your own Freegal playlist and share it with your fellow library listeners, I’m always listening for something new!


 

 

 

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