SoundSwell - Santa Cruz Music Project


Search using this query type:

Search only these record types:


Advanced Search (Albums only)

Home > About


What is SoundSwell?

SoundSwell is a streaming database of local music that library cardholders can download for free. It was created through a partnership between the Santa Cruz Public Libraries and the Santa Cruz Rehearsal Studios. We hope it will grow to become a comprehensive discovery tool for finding local music as well as a robust historical archive of the local music scene in Santa Cruz County.

The library has always been a place where people can find music, movies and other materials for entertainment and enrichment. We are lucky to have such a vibrant local music scene which contributes to the unique cultural identity of Santa Cruz. SoundSwell wants to help the creators of our local culture connect with each other, connect with the community, disseminate their art, and contribute to the historical record of Santa Cruz.

How does SoundSwell work? 

SoundSwell expands access to local music in a way that compensates and respects the art of the musician. The library pays a non-exclusive 2 year download licensing fee for each album. This agreement allows library cardholders to download songs and albums free of charge. Once downloaded, those songs are yours forever; there is no Digital Resource Management (DRM) system that will remove the songs from your computer or device.

Once the contracts end albums are still accessible through a streaming only format that cannot be downloaded. As we collect more and more music, we hope to begin to include other news, videos, and oral histories from musicians to create a more robust historical archive.

I'm a Local Musician. How do I submit my album?


SoundSwell continuously seeks to grow our local music collection. In order to be included in the collection, you must identify as a Santa Cruz County performer or band in your promotional biography, and at least one member of the band must reside in Santa Cruz County. You must be able to supply a commercially produced CD, EP or album with a minimum of 3 songs. In the interest of preservation, we cannot accept sumbissions where ink has been applied directly to the unprotected disc.  The library accepts up to three albums per artist per year.


Under the licensing agreement, the library will pay you for a 2 year non-exclusive license as follows: $100 for a full length LP consisting of 10 or more songs, $75 for an EP consisting of 6-9 songs, and $50 for an EP consisting of 3-5 songs. During the term of the license, only those users with a valid library card will be able to download licensed songs.

To raise this much revenue from iTunes, you would typically need 100 people to download one of your songs. If 100 people download your song from SoundSwell, you could gain 100 new local fans. That’s 100 people living in Santa Cruz who might tell a friend about your music or attend a show! 


If you meet the criteria and wish to submit your work, please review, fill out, and sign a license agreement form. If you have any questions or concerns or would like to meet in person to go over any aspect of the agreement prior to signing please email Project Manager Diane Cowen at or call Library Administration at 831-427-7706.

You must also fill out and submit a Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification (IRS Form W9) in order to receive your payment.

There are three ways to submit your signed agreement, W9 form, and CD:

  • To meet with the project Manager in person, make an appointment with Diane Cowen to deliver your submission by emailing or calling Library Administration at 831-427-7706. 
  • Deliver your submission without an appointment leaving it with Library Administration Reception staff between 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday.
  • Send your submission via US mail to Santa Cruz Public Libraries ATTN: Virtual Services; 117 Union St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060.
Once the agreement has been received and signed by the library Director, the document will be scanned and emailed back to you with both signatures for your records.



The SoundSwell project was supported in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.