Checking Out Local Music: KDL's Vibes Program

Hear free local music through Kent District Library Vibes program.

Combining the modern convenience of a music streaming service with the real cash compensation local artists should get for their work, the Kent District Library has created the perfect digital chronicle of the West Michigan music scene with its KDL Vibes program.

Began back in the fall of 2021, KDL Vibes was a long time in the making, and remains an ongoing process. The program features an ever-growing collection of music of all genres from acts across Kent County, and around West Michigan. The service is free for listeners, and KDL cardholders can download any of the music licensed by the program.

“Vibes provides our patrons who may not otherwise seek out local music, an opportunity to discover music that is being made in their community, all in one digital public space,” Adam Marth, Branch Librarian at KDL’s Wyoming Branch, told Revue. “It strengthens the relationship between the library and the music community in a fresh way, allowing patrons to connect with local musicians, and showcasing the musicians’ works to a giant audience of library patrons.”

KDL Vibes recently reopened its submission process—running now through July 31—where bands and musicians can submit their music for consideration. Artists selected by the submission panel will receive a $250 honorarium for licensing their albums to KDL Vibes. 

“In many ways it’s unlike any other platform KDL offers,” Faye Harbison, Branch Librarian at KDL’s Plainfield Township Branch, said. “Most notably that the Vibes team is directly connected to the material that we’re able to offer patrons, we’re one step away from the artists, and we’re fans! Such a unique connection makes the work that our small team of three put into it that much more rewarding.”

Alongside Marth and Harbison, KDL Digital Marketing Strategist Josh Mosey has joined the KDL Vibes team, which works with community curators during their submission period in selecting a limited number of additions to the Vibes collection. In all, the panel looks to add about 20-30 albums during each of its submission periods. 

“Listening to all the submissions is just such a joy, there’s no other way to describe it,” Harbison said. “Knowing that so many artists want to be in the Vibes collection, and also have the trust in us to put their music out in the world, is something special. Plus, every submission round, I end up with a long list of artists to check out that’s at least double what we can end up adding to the collection.”

KDL Vibes partners with the Milwaukee-based company, Rabble, who hosts and manages their collection through their MUSICat service. The company pioneered this type of platform, and has adopted similar services for a network of libraries throughout North America. 

“Our collection includes music from the greater Kent County area, and musicians who play or record in Michigan,” Josh Mosey said. “By having artists within driving distance of our library branches, it’s a lot easier to get them out to do events like our Reference Desk Mini-Concerts—live in-person acoustic sets held in different library branches that will be starting up again in January 2024.”

This fall KDL Vibes will expand into live performances even more when they host Vibes Fest, a two-day celebration of local talent happening at KDL’s Cascade Township Branch. The event will run 12-8 p.m. on Sept. 23 and 12-5 p.m. on Sept. 24, and showcase a variety of bands including Low Phase, Motherland, Avocadosquad, RTRN, Daisybox and The Dangling Participles. The fest will have two stages, with one for acoustic acts, and one for full bands, along with staggered set times, to keep the music going. 

Posters promoting the completely free to attend event will go up soon, featuring work by local artist Rhiannan Sibbald.

“Since the initial launch of the KDL Vibes program a couple years back, it went from being an online music streaming platform to including live in-person acoustic events, and is now going to include a two-day indoor/outdoor concert,” Mosey said. “It has already grown so much that it’s hard to predict what’ll happen next. We’re just excited to support West Michigan’s vibrant music scene by providing platforms, opportunities and cold, hard cash to the acts that deserve the local love.”

To listen, or for more information on submissions, check out