Buddy Hale and Rachel Freund, co-founders Library of MusicLandria
If he’s being honest, Buddy Hale’s first instrument was an air guitar. His wife Rachel Freund, on the other hand, received a broken-down clarinet from her mom. Years later, the couple, who perform together in the local band Separate Spines, now want to give other musicians (beginning or otherwise) better opportunities. That’s the idea behind their Library of MusicLandria,which allows people to check out various instruments as well as recording and gig equipment. The library operates out of the couple’s Land Park home and comprises rows of shelves packed with gear. Hale and Freund took time on a recent rainy evening to discuss plans to turn MusicLandria into a full-time nonprofit and its future as the Uber of instruments.
How did this start?
Hale: I was always interested in business, but I had no idea what I wanted to do with it and thought I should just do accounting because that’s just the most practical thing. But, my heart just wasn’t into that. I was living in Berkeley for a while and there was a tool-lending library there and that was a great resource. Eventually … the idea of having some kind of library that was music-related just kind of happened.
How do you apply?
Hale: It’s easy, you just provide your name and your address and your proof of address. You sign something saying you can only check them out for so long—basically saying you’ll be liable for any damages.
Hale: Right now it’s two weeks for most of the items but we’re learning, more and more, that as we lend stuff out is that different items should have different checkout lengths. Keyboards are two weeks, guitars are two weeks. You can renew stuff up to three times because we realize that certain instruments aren’t something you can learn really fast.
Are there are overdue fines?
Hale: Yeah, it depends on the item; if it’s something that’s in high demand or rare, then it’s $5 a day. For other smaller items like a cable or an effect pedal, it’s like a dollar a day.
What did you start out with?
Hale: We had 100 items, mostly things I’d collected over my course of being a musician; I just donated it all. There were keyboards, drum sets, guitars, basses, effect pedals, lighting, P.A. systems. Now, it’s closer to 200. Some of it needs maintenance, so we’ve been accepting donations and not everything we accept is in perfect working order. We have a part in the garage that’s sort of turning into a workshop area where repairs happen and even modifications.
So, there are also things for recording and live performances?
Hale: Yeah, people check them out a lot. They’re P.A. speakers, really good quality, it’s one of the most common things people check out. And we have stage lighting, so if you want to do a deejay set. …
You have a lot of guitars in the other room—is this all taking over your life?
Freund: In the most delightful way. We’re trying to expand our programs right now. Whenever we do outreach, tabling at events, a lot of people will ask about lessons. We had a meeting last night to discuss free community lessons. Local musicians [and] music teachers could come and teach and maybe that would lead to something that would help their business.
How do you solicit donations?
Hale: We just started saying, “Hey, we’re here, if you have any musical instruments sitting in your closet we’d love to add them to our catalog.” We’ve also done a small handful of instrument drives; we’ll reach out to bands that are playing concerts and ask if we can have a presence there and basically do the same thing but ask them, “Hey, if you bring an instrument to donate we’ll get you into the show for free.”
It’s like the Uber of instruments.
Hale: (Laughs.) It hasn’t exploded as much as that but the people who use it like the idea of the sharing economy and I do, too.
Freund: Probably a harp. Oh, or one of those pipe organs! There was a news story last year about a homeless pipe organ in Placerville—they were closing a church or taking it and needed to find a place.
Hale: It was 25 feet long. I was going to get a warehouse space for it. I was the second person in line to get it and I just waited a little too long. I just want the scope to be really diverse—I just want a ton of musical instruments so people can really explore.
Significance of the name?
Hale: It’s based off the Library of Alexandria, a lost library that’s supposed to be the largest library that ever existed. It disappeared; no one knows where it went. It’s supposed to have been a wonder of the world.