Fresh Local Beats
Your new favorite musician might be waiting for you at the library. Last fall, Hennepin County Library added 130 new albums to MNspin, an online music streaming platform of albums by accomplished local artists. From hip-hop, jazz, and underground rock, to mariachi, reggae, country, and more, MNspin features Minnesota’s stunning range of musical talent. Since its launch in 2017, the platform has provided all library users a free and convenient way to explore Minnesota’s rich music scene with the curation of local experts. These community curators include a radio host, a composer, a musician, an author, and a community activist—all local music leaders who have deep roots in Minnesota music.
Everyone and anyone can stream music by some of Minnesota’s most inspiring musicians, and library cardholders can download music to carry with them wherever they go. “MNSpin is a vital resource for MN music,” Maygen Lacey of the band Maygen and the Birdwatchers tells us. “We can’t tell you how many people have reached out to us because they discovered our band on MNspin. We’ve also found it to be a great resource for ourselves personally as musicians and as music fans. Minnesota music benefits so much from having MNspin in the mix!”
We can’t tell you how many people have reached out to us because they discovered our band on MNspin!
Connecting Artists and Audiences
MNspin connects musicians with new and expanded audiences, giving Minnesota artists broader exposure. “It’s an honor to be included in this year’s MNspin playlist,” musician Molly Maher tells us. “As a working artist who plays a lot of the same venues therefore sort of staying within the same circles, MNspin presents an opportunity for my music to be heard alongside many other artists I might not be normally ‘paired up’ with. As a resource for the community, these curated playlists are a great addition to the library system, allowing an all-access pass to local music, creating a sustainable musical ecosystem.”
As a resource for the community, these curated playlists are a great addition to the library system, allowing an all-access pass to local music.
Supporting Artists and Innovation
While MNspin is free to all library listeners, Hennepin County Library compensates musicians for the rights to share each album on the platform thanks to support from Friends of HCL. This is especially important to the local music community after the pandemic made live performances more difficult. Annie Enneking, the lead singer in the band Annie and the Bang Bang, says, “What I appreciate most about MNspin is that I feel seen and heard as a musician and songwriter. It’s an honor to be in the company of bands who put out smart, invigorating, and emotionally textured music, and to feel part of that community. What the service really provides is a sense of belonging. And it’s no small thing that MNspin compensates artists for their work,” she adds. “We’ve been able to pay for the mastering of songs or have ordered more t-shirts, for example. It has also led to a variety of performance opportunities. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.”
What MNspin really provides is a sense of belonging. And it’s no small thing that MNspin compensates artists for their work.
The entertainment through MNspin is not just happening digitally. In 2021, three MNspin Live concerts were streamed virtually from The Hook and Ladder, featuring a hybrid of live performances and music videos. MNspin artists also performed at outdoor concerts across the county. Throughout August, bands and musicians like Good Morning Bedlam, Sarah Morris, and The Prizefighters brought their music public parks in both Minneapolis and St. Paul. MNspin also created a series of weekly concerts at Peavey Plaza in downtown Minneaplis. Every Tuesday featured a lunchtime concert from a different MNspin artist for those downtown to enjoy an hour outside with their lunches, beautiful music, and good company.
MNspin is an amazing platform for all artists from Minnesota of all genres. No matter the background or level of notoriety an artist or group possesses, MNspin has a spot for them and their music to be heard by the world. Also, being part of something new and cool the HCLIB is doing is an amazing opportunity.
The Future of MNspin
With generous funding from our donors, the platform has grown steadily. To date, more than 400 albums and thousands of songs are available for free streaming and downloading for library patrons. In 2022, Friends of HCL has dedicated $45,000 to continue building on the platform’s growing momentum, amplifying local artists, and helping listeners explore fresh hometown sounds. MNspin is a heartfelt celebration of Minnesota’s musical community.