In its ongoing effort to chronicle the local music scene, the Nashville Public Library announced this week it has launched a streaming website, becoming the fourth library system in the nation to set up such a service.
The Boombox initiative will offer music streams and downloads of 20 local artists. The inaugural playlist is headlined by a local rock band with a name that unsettled some library staffers — Diarrhea Planet.
Ryan Darrow, who works in the library’s special collections department, says Diarrhea Planet is the biggest band on the list. And since librarians “strongly believe in intellectual freedom,” Darrow says it would be disingenuous not to give the group top billing.
Darrow says he sees Boombox as an extension of the library’s archival efforts.
"This was a fun way of doing it where we could collect those resources, share them back out to the community, while we’re also collecting them for future researchers and future users to discover much later," Darrow says.
The library will pay the participating artists a small honorarium to license their songs, but Darrow says that’s not the main reason the musicians said yes.
The artists all expressed that they are "huge fans of the library," Darrow says. He calls that revelation “heartwarming” and adds that he was elated to find that “the coolest people in Nashville think the library is pretty cool in return.”
The first round of musicians were selected internally, but Darrow says for the next installments, guest curators will help make the decisions. The library hopes to unveil who those curators are in the coming weeks.
To celebrate the launch of the Boombox streaming service, the downtown branch will host a free show on Oct. 22.