Tony Brooke: The Free Library of Music

If I Won the Lottery:

the Free Library of Music

by Tony Brooke

Written sometime in the 1990's

If I woke up tomorrow with a bottomless bank account, I would open a public Free Library of Music. This would be a place where people could listen to and borrow any piece of recorded music ever created. The FLM would have a traditional physical library building, as well as an Internet-based library. It would also broadcast programs on both traditional airwaves and via webcast audio. A department full of people who live and breathe all styles of music would be available anytime for guidance and to turn people on to new music.

Hundreds of personal listening headsets with wireless transmitters would be available to use on site, allowing visitors to wander freely, exploring the music archives and the historical music references on all types of media: books, magazines, computer, video, etc. An interactive network would allow each individual quick retrieval of any music on file. Visitors could pick out their own selections or tune in to FLM broadcasts.

These broadcast shows would be produced at the FLM, drawing on the collections and on the knowledge of the staff. Any time a musical selection is auditioned, digital watermarking would aid musical education by identifying the artist and title on a small screen. These shows would also be available on various public airwaves and webcasts. Niche-genre musical broadcasts would be commercial-free, but others geared toward pop music might have to be commercial, to subsidize the cost of the library.

Admission to the FLM Library would be free to all, and when materials are lent outside of the library, a small "lending fee" would be passed directly to the artist or their publishing company.

 [ I'm still daydreaming about the details of the FLM but have yet to write it all down. I welcome other ideas. Contact me with your thoughts or blank checks. ]