When I was a kid, I remember picking up music — mostly CDs but also the odd cassette tape — from my local library. Free music has always been as much a part of modern library offerings as books and movies. When the Worcester Public Library launched the Freegal music streaming service in early February, it was the natural progression of things — from vinyl to cassettes to CDs to streaming.
The pandemic certainly spurred things as they figured out how to meet their patron’s needs during the shutdown. Freegal is a service for libraries worldwide providing digital access to an expansive collection of music and audiobooks — 15 million songs with no commercials or skip limits. So, library patrons can choose a song they want to listen to and listen to it now. I know I have a bunch of stuff to catch up on! Libraries provide access to materials that individuals may not have, a varied choice which is curated to give a window into worlds that could remain closed due to many reasons. Among those materials are physical music collections.
Jason Homer, director of the WPL, said the decision was easy once they saw the possibilities. With so many things going online and the success of streaming platforms, which can be unaffordable for some, the WPL is always looking for avenues to provide services to people who might not be able to afford them but still have the same level of access.
Three songs a week can be downloaded to a device. “Taking the money we were using for physical music collection and moving it to streaming services — fewer CDs to buy lately and rather than move that money somewhere else, we’re keeping it under the music umbrella,” said Homer of their juggling act. “Just very excited to make music more available to patrons.” It is common knowledge that numerous artists are releasing more singles on streaming and making fewer albums so Freegal is adding new stuff the whole time and the more users they get the more songs they will have on their platform. Users can create work from home playlists, workout playlist and share them.
The Freegal music app can be downloaded on mobile devices or computers — just choose WPL and enter library number and PIN. So, the next time you read the “Song to Get You Through the Week” column, go ahead and listen to it right away.
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