Pro-Tip: Streaming Music Libraries

Have you every stopped to think about the literal hundreds of thousands of hours of streaming music options available online today? Right now? And for free? This blog post is by no means comprehensive but I hope will point you towards some new sources of online audio from our library collection and others.

Library Apps and Websites

  • Freegal - You might be surprised by what you find here, especially if has been a few years since you last visited. Freegal is constantly expanding their digital collection and adding in new artists. Try doing an advanced search! This is one of the few places where you can search for specific record labels or composers really easily.
  • Hoopla - Do you like movie soundtracks? I do! Sure, you can stream new releases here the same week they hit stores, but Hoopla is also a great source for background music. Just throw in your desired keyword into their search bar or from our catalog
  • Qello Concerts - This is our newest addition in the collection, and it's now available through the Libby app but you need to sign-in first to see it from the homepage. Similar to Freegal earlier in this list, keep in mind they are always adding new content so it's worth revisiting if you don't see your favorite genre at first glance.

Music Archives

There are far too many online music archives to list, so here are a few local highlights.

  • Live Music Archive - A hallmark of the Internet Archive and by far the best non-commercial source for digitized fan recordings of the past.
  • Stanford Live - This is free for current students only, but also has an annual membership setup.
  • UCSB Cylinder Audio Archive - Go back to where it all started! Cylinder recordings in the early 1900s are some of the first recorded sounds ever. 
  • Library of Congress - This one takes some digging, but it will be worth your time! Not just music but also field recordings and other amazing things you can't find anywhere else.

Online Collections

You have probably heard of these before, so I won't say too much. Keep in mind that in most cases there is a "freemium" tier that will get you access but that will include advertisements. No online music blog post would be complete without at least mentioning they exist and can be a great source for finding new artist names that you can plug back into a library collection search in Freegal or Hoopla. To put it another way, don't be afraid to mix and match your music streams.

  • Spotify
  • Soundcloud
  • Apple Music
  • Amazon Music
  • YouTube Music
  • Deezer

One thing you may notice is that commercial music streaming platforms are really good at making recommendations based on your taste. By default, most library apps will not do this because we avoid storing a detailed history of your borrowing habits. We in fact try to know as little about you as possible!

As a side note, if you do find yourself listening to ad supported music streams more often than not, be aware there are browser plugins that can make the experience more enjoyable. Not just ad blockers, but also playlist tools and "smart home" voice control features.

Honorable Mentions

  • Libby - It's not just for eBooks! There are audiobooks in here too, yes, but have you ever listened to an audiobook about music? Very often publishers will include audio extras in books like this, and sometimes you even get lucky and it's narrated by someone interesting from that specific music group.
  • Kanopy - For music lovers check out the documentaries about music and musicians on this video streaming platform. Kanopy is ripe with behind the scenes content.