May 21, 2022

Local Music and Libraries: Rabble, a UW-Madison Spinoff Helps Libraries Help Local Musicians with MUSICat Software

From University of Wisconsin-Madison:

2017-07-06_11-31-49On July 5, Hennepin County Library became the sixth library system to offer access to software that presents the sound of local musicians in an easy-to-access format.

The Minneapolis-area system joins Seattle, Nashville, Omaha, Madison and Edmonton, Alberta, in using the software developed by Rabble LLC, a Madison startup with roots at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Musicians benefit from a one-time payment from the library, and from the exposure to both patrons and event organizers looking for music with a local touch. Library patrons can listen to tracks or download them, or save selections as favorites via the library’s MUSICat website. Many libraries establish a separate name and URL for the service, says co-founder Kelly Hiser.


The company’s seeds were planted during Hiser’s year-long Public Humanities Fellowship at Madison Public Library, funded by UW–Madison’s Center for Humanities. At the library, Hiser worked on various digital music applications, including a first foray into music lending

Before the year was up, she began talking with Preston Austin of the Madison digital music service Murfie about expanding the idea into a startup. The result was Rabble, and its service, MUSICat, a digital channel for presenting music created in a library’s backyard to its patrons.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.