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A free listening service from the New Orleans library is spotlighting local musicians

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

New Orleans is a music mecca - oh, great - Unless you're an up-and-coming artist who's trying to get heard. The New Orleans Public Library wanted to change that, so it put recordings from local acts on a website people can stream. It's called Crescent City Sounds. Joshua Smith is a library associate who came up with the idea.

JOSHUA SMITH: We're a huge music city, and we're a city that works together and supports each other. And I really thought that we needed this cool free music catalog for the community to stream and for unknown artists to get their names out there.

SIMON: Other public libraries and great music towns, including Austin and Nashville, have set up similar online music libraries. New Orleans launched its service with 28 local artists earlier this week.

SMITH: It's just a great way to get as much of their information and their music out to the public in a low-barrier, free kind of way.

SIMON: The library invited a rapper, a DJ and other local music professionals to curate the collection.

SMITH: You think of a certain amount of things as New Orleans music, and we certainly have that up on there. But we have a lot of rock stuff that you wouldn't think of and, like, just some weird things.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LET IT ROLL")

MARINA ORCHESTRA: (Singing) There's a world sensation, feels like going home.

SMITH: I love everything that we put up. Marina Orchestra is like beachy yacht rock, really fun.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LET IT ROLL")

MARINA ORCHESTRA: (Singing) Deep down in your soul.

SMITH: And Swayze is super awesome, like, old-school electronica, pop kind of stuff.

(SOUNDBITE OF SWAYZE SONG, "YOUR LOVE IS LIKE A LONE WOLF")

SIMON: Another local musician that's part of the Crescent City Sounds is Ted Hefko of Ted Hefko and The Thousandaires.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE ROOFER")

TED HEFKO AND THE THOUSANDAIRES: (Singing) Where did all my good friends go? - where the currents of the Midwest meet the Gulf of Mexico.

SIMON: He's a roots rock musician and songwriter who says New Orleans shaped his music.

TED HEFKO: I mean, music is everywhere. Sit in a bar last night, and the brass band led a whole group of people when they came in. So you never know when it's going to appear.

SIMON: Ted Hefko says that he got involved when one of the curators contacted him.

HEFKO: It is nice to have it in a place other than Spotify or something where it's lumped in with music from all over the place, and people can just concentrate on the New Orleans music scene.

SIMON: Crescent City Sounds pays each artist's small honorarium - $250 - to license their music for five years. And it plans to look for more music to add to its collection next year. Library associate Joshua Smith says reactions so far have been positive.

SMITH: I hope people find some cool new bands and get out and go to shows and have a good time.

(SOUNDBITE OF TED HEFKO AND THE THOUSANDAIRES SONG, "THE ROOFER") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
Mia Estrada
Mia Estrada is a 2021-2022 Kroc Fellow. She will spend the year rotating through different parts of NPR, including the Culture Desk, National Desk and Weekend Edition.