Music Broth

Community, Third Sector • City of Edinburgh, Glasgow City

A musical instrument lending library that makes learning music more affordable and accessible.

Music Broth's story

Music Broth started in 2017 from a conversation between the two cofounders who came up with the idea of a musical instrument library so they could share instruments with more people. At its core, the model is very simple: they receive or pick up donated instruments, fix them if needed and then loan them out. They charge a very modest membership fee - for those who can afford to pay - to help cover operating costs whilst keeping things as accessible as possible.

From eight instruments at the beginning, they now have over 3000 items from tin whistles and recorders all the way up to studio drumkits and big festival amps! They have expanded across two locations in Glasgow and partner with Edinburgh Tool Library to pick up and drop off instruments in Edinburgh. Based on the response, the organisation has grown to a team of over 70 volunteers.

The offering has evolved too and the team also helps people access things like tuition books and recording equipment for bands who might be under financial strain, and provide free workshops, events, music lessons, and opportunities for all individuals in the community.

As a net zero waste organisation, the ethos at Music Broth is all about bringing musical joy whilst reducing waste and carbon emissions!

To hear more from cofounder Jen O’Brien, listen to the Carbon Copy Podcast Running Out of Time special episode featuring this initiative.

Useful learnings from Music Broth

You don’t have to be musical as such to do what Music Broth are doing.  It’s more about a community space and being creative.  They have volunteers who are not musical at all who help with social media for example, or catalogue instruments, or come in and fix guitars.

Gathering a real community around this space has been integral to the success of Music Broth. They call themselves “Scotland’s Loudest Library” on purpose – they want people to come in, try different instruments and make some noise. 

One of the main challenges is logistics: it takes a while to have the space and time to process instruments that have been donated (checking, repairing, maintaining) before giving them out to people. It’s an ongoing work flow task that needs careful management, especially when the focus is on care and attention rather than quick fixes.

Music Broth is an enterprise powered by purpose. In the words of Jen O’Brien, “It’s not hard when you’re doing something that means something to people… someone comes along and says thank you, or the talk you gave is just what they needed at the time, or someone tells you they’ve just learnt ‘Jolene’ on the ukulele, or you go and watch young people who have learnt stuff with you perform their own original songs for the first time; and that makes all the difference.”

Music Broth's metrics

Inclusivity – removing barriers of access and respecting individuals to define their own approaches to music. Sustainability – diverting instrument and equipment waste from landfill, renewing their usefulness and redistributing them. Community Support – working in partnership with community groups, third sector and government. Creative Practice – supporting people creatively and helping individuals to self-actualise, through music.

Feeling inspired? Discover more about this story...

Action Area

Circular Economy

Response to climate crisis

Mitigation

Reach

City

Organisation

Community, Third Sector, 10 to 49 people

Shared by

Carbon Copy

Updated Jun, 2024

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