Monday, January 24, 2005

Smithsonian's Song Catalog - Now That's a For-Profit Alternative!

OK folk music fans, the Smithsonian Folkways song collection is finally to be sold online via the MSN Music Store for 99 cents apiece, and when the agreement with Microsoft expires, the Smithsonian hopes to begin its own music download service, with more extensive text and documentation features (whew, I was worried...).

Why am I telling you this? Well, I think this is another nice example of Libraries acting in an entrepreneurial way. The Google/Libraries thing is another example. The Smithsonian is leveraging one of its valuable assets, and at the same time, supporting the long term preservation of that collection. Good on 'em.

When you're content rich and funding poor, like so many Libraries, this type of initiative just makes sense. The Libraries and Library Societies we support may not be The Smithsonian (insert the 'echo' effect here) sonian, sonian, soniaaaaan... :-), but that is just a question of scale. Brainstorming new services (or looking at old services in new ways) are always key to innovation. Finding a new distribution / marketing partnership never hurts either.

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