12 August 2016
On Monday, August 8, Madison-based startup Rabble launched PlayBack with The Seattle Public Library, a new curated collection of local music. PlayBack debuts with fifty albums by Seattle-area musicians that anyone can stream, and SPL cardholders can download. PlayBack joins Madison’s Yahara Music Library and Edmonton’s Capital City Records on Rabble’s MUSICat platform. Rabble will launch new sites with several additional partner libraries in 2016, including the Nashville Public Library.
“Go to the sites. Listen to the music,” Rabble co-founder and CEO Kelly Hiser said. “This is exceptionally good stuff. Libraries are doing important work, creating digital public spaces, and we’re proud to be part of it.”
“The public library world is an incredibly exciting space right now,” says Hiser. “Libraries across the world are reestablishing themselves as creative community hubs, housing art galleries, makerspaces, and concert venues. Library initiatives that celebrate and invest in local work are generating tons of energy. MUSICat sites don’t just channel that energy into online collections—they actually cycle it back into the community, facilitating new collaborations between libraries, artists, and cultural organizations.”
MUSICat fills a gap in the library software market, which offers few options for libraries looking to curate and share local content. MUSICat gives librarians tools to collect and publish local music, licensing albums on library-friendly terms and directly compensating artists.
Hiser, a PhD musicologist, grounds Rabble’s work in critical thinking about technology, art, and value. She leads a team of three that includes co-founder and Technical Architect Preston Austin and Technical Lead Bill Blondeau.
Hiser and her co-founders have bootstrapped Rabble in the two years since its founding, in part by building strong relationships in Madison’s university, library, and entrepreneurial communities. Rabble has partnered with the UW-Madison Center for the Humanities, works primarily out of Horizon Coworking, and leverages Hiser’s and Austin’s connections in local library and technology communities.