Future of Music Publishing? – Sheet Music on Kindle

From Amazon Kindle’s Blog today: “FreeHand Systems has announced that its Novato Music Press catalog, which includes thousands of classical, traditional and American music titles, is now available on Kindle. This marks the first time that a comprehensive collection of sheet music is being offered for this exciting new medium.”

The CEO of FreeHand Systems, Kim Lorz is quoted as saying “musicians never have to fumble through paper scores or worry about forgetting a piece of music. Everything is wirelessly downloaded and stored in the Kindle and is available for easy recall.”

The collection has holdings of J.S. Bach, Mozart and Beethoven and “minor composers […] including Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha.” I find their characterisation of one of the first American operas as ‘minor’ truly amusing.

Dr. Wolf-Dieter Seiffert
Dr. Wolf-Dieter Seiffert

This could not stand in starker contrast to a presentation that Dr. Wolf-Dieter Seiffert, Managing Director of G. Henle Publishers gave on 1 April 2009 to the International Confederation of Music Publishers (ICMP).

Printed music has existed for over 5 centuries and Dr Seiffert’s perspective reinforces the printed medium. He outlines some of the benefits of being able to download music which include providing access to lesser known composers and compositions which have been removed from the printed catalogue. Among the reasons why he thinks printed music will be around for another century are:

  • “When my screen falls down to the floor, it breaks. Sheet music has been falling on the floor for 500 years – and survived.
  • When you have a power blackout, your screen goes dark. Even 500 years from now music on paper will not need electric currency.
  • Software is consistently updated, storage media is subject to change; that leads to the next technology-related problem: I am not sure whether the next generation of equipment is compatible. A few years from now, will I be able to read and convert the music I painstakingly scanned and downloaded? Music on paper is independent of software and does not need a disk drive.”

You can access his full speech here. (PDF)

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