Noteflight Marketplace

Noteflight officially announced “Noteflight Marketplace” yesterday. If you’re not familiar with Noteflight, it is one of two web-based music notation programs that work on every device (well, the iPad isn’t always the best experience, but other than that…). Some time ago, Hal Leonard bought the company (this is directly related to the marketplace announcement), and the company has started to push the boundaries in terms of notation, education, and now distribution of music. This is exactly what we need to see in a technology-rich world.

In terms of education, Noteflight introduced Noteflight Learn a couple of years ago. Noteflight Learn is a solution for education that not only gave students access to the notation editor in a COPPA compliant environment, the program also gave students and teachers access to a optional music library (filled with Hal Leonard titles), as well as a way to record audio (e.g. student playing) and share those files with the teacher.

Noteflight’s latest development is the Noteflight Marketplace. While anyone can buy music from the Marketplace, the Marketplace allows anyone age 18 or older with a Noteflight Premium Subscription (which is actually very affordable) the opportunity to publish music. You can publish your own scores (50% commission), publish scores in the public domain (50% commission), or arranged works (10% commission–as long as the copyright holder has a license agreement with Noteflight, and over 1,000,000 songs do have that agreement). And yes, you can import MusicXML files into Noteflight if you have music you would like to sell but it is currently in another program. My guess is that the number of available songs will grow as other publishers see the strengths of this program, and I have a sneaky suspicion that Noteflight would be open to adding publishing partners (I haven’t talked to anyone about it, but it certainly seems as if Noteflight is ready for this). I love the publishing aspect, which seems to be very similar to publishing your own music (without a label) on iTunes, or an iBook on the iBook Store (without a publisher).

When you buy a song from the Noteflight Marketplace, you can print your music (it creates a PDF) and you can buy a license for a larger number of performers at a set fee (this is awesome for choral music). All scores can be purchased for more performers, but it is awesome to see the option for a 50+ purchase (I hope more composers will utilize this!). Any purchase from the Noteflight Marketplace can be adapted for your needs.

In general, anything that has been published by Hal Leonard (not necessarily its subsidiaries or publishing partners) in the recent past seems to be available in the Noteflight Marketplace catalog. One negative but understandable limitation is that you cannot export a song from the Marketplace to another program via MusicXML. I understand that limitation, but if you are more comfortable on Finale, Sibelius, Dorico, or Notion for editing, you will have to learn how to edit in Noteflight; in my case, my main reason for exporting would be to have another program play the music and create audio files for rehearsal/performance.

I did a little searching on the Marketplace and found a lot of available literature, even songs from The Daily Ukulele! I was a little sad to see that “printed” choral octavos seem to be at their regular price–I would have loved to see a discount offered to buyers due to no printing, shipping, storage, or local music store sale. Sadly, I can always buy a printed score at a discount from local music stores. I don’t expect to buy music at the price that a music store would pay, but perhaps pricing in-between would be possible?

Music publishing, copyright, technology, and specifically tablets (e.g. iPad) have been in an uncomfortable position for years. Can you scan your music? Not legally for use in schools. Can you arrange music (e.g. you don’t have tenors)? Not legally. Can you change the key of a song? Not legally. Some of these problems are now solved if you live in the Noteflight world. And with this development, we probably all should be getting involved in Noteflight.

The only challenge for education that I currently see with the program is how to tie a purchase to an institution versus attributing that purchase to an individual. For example, if I buy all of my concert music from Noteflight for large groups, and then leave the school, how does the next teacher get access to those scores? Or can a team of teachers have access to a single score? Or can a district get access to a purchased score so that any school in the district can use the song (up to the purchased group size)? These problems do not need to be solved right away, but certainly are worth thinking about.

And just a word of caution: if you decide to join Noteflight for the Marketplace, don’t buy one score and then use it with a choir of 50 students. Please respect the innovation offered here and do the right thing (I think back to a teacher that was buying five scores off of a digital music service and using that to provide music for their entire ensemble. Sigh).

Additionally, every score on the Noteflight Marketplace has a preview of the song, as well as the ability to hear it (digitally). If you’re searching for new music for 2018-2019, you might want to spend some time on the Noteflight Marketplace, too!

I’m really excited by this development, and it is one step away from my dream scenario where a school could report the number of students in their program (e.g. 350), and pay a set price per student to access for printed music for the year (think Spotify or Apple Music). That’s a natural next step–but it might be years in the making.


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