To Buy (Online) or Not to Buy (Online)

Mike Lawson • Archives • October 13, 2010

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While many factors contribute to a successful musical experience, perhaps none is as critical as the actual music itself. Students need to be able to perform it well and understand it (to some degree, anyway), educators need to be able to teach it, and audiences need to be able to connect with it. The good news is that with ever-increasing print music resources available online, finding and sampling new music has never been easier. Yet, in spite of the veritable digital revolution taking place in all areas of the print industry, it seems that educators are still more comfortable heading over to the local music store (or calling them on the phone) than making purchases over the Internet. Read on as the SBO faithful share their thoughts on all things print music in this latest reader survey.

What is your annual budget for music purchases?

0-$100 -15%
$100-$500 – 15%
$500-$1,500 – 38%
$1,500-$2,500 – 18%
$2,500+ – 14%

Where do you buy your sheet music?

Print Music Store – 59%
Online – 35%
Convention/Expo/Other – 6%

“Buying online means the convenience of having all parts digitally available and the ability to print only the parts you need and the amount you need to use.”
Rich Guillen, Arlington High School, LaGrangeville, N.Y.

“I haven’t tried to buy music online yet, but there are a couple of questions I have: Will the format be 8.5″x11″ or 11″x17″? And why is the cost not considerably less if I’m printing it on my own paper?”
Dennis Carroll, Hoover High School, Hoover, Ala.

“Our school has a complicated purchase order procedure that we must follow. They do not allow online purchasing. It would be nice if they did!”
Pauline Lanz, Todd County Hgh School, Mission, S.D.

How do you typically discover new music?

Online Resources – 23%
Conferences & Conventions – 21%
Recommendations from colleagues/associates/friends – 21%
Print Catalogues – 19%
Music Festivals & Competitions – 13%
Music Publisher Sales Rep – 3%

“All of the above. I spend most of the time at Midwest and state conventions listening to new music. I have several excellent print music stores who are a great help (Shattingers, Senseney and the old Wingert-Jones). I will search the Web for new works and order online if it’s not available from a ‘real’ store. I do prefer hands-on, working with professional people in a live environment, where I’m able to return music if I need to.

“It would be amazing if the print services would make available out-of-print literature (when copyright allows) that could be printed after purchase. They would not have to stock the item and we would have the great works of the past available.”
Marion Roberts, Blue Valley North High School, Overland Park, Kan.

Is the print music industry adequately up to date with new technological advancements?

Yes – 73%
No – 27%

Additional thoughts on print music?

“I make my decisions by looking online, and order purchases on the phone to have them shipped to my school. If I buy the music online, I am thinking I will be questioned at contest to the authenticity of the music. I also like the size of the printed music from the publisher. The paper from my printer may not always be a good quality paper. I would also want the conductor’s scores to be as they are printed now I would not want to have to tape them together.

“I am a big fan of catalog and CDs. I also look at printed catalogs, read the description and, if available, I listen to a recording. If a recording for a particular piece is not available, I will usually not purchase it.

“One change in the industry that I would like to see is a grading system that is universal across the board, using either med-med advanced style or the number system.”
Rachael E. Lewis, Bluffton Exempted Village Schools, Bluffton, Ohio

“I would like to see publishers license the copyright for as many copies as necessary and make them available through PDF or in both Finale and Sibelius formats. Composers could then update arrangements as they wish. Errata would be eliminated and composers would be able to upgrade without reprinting/republishing.”
Michael Wallace, Bloomington Junior High School, Bloomington, Ill.

“Publishers should carefully review the extant copyright laws; they are out of step with reality. Music teachers aren’t out to defraud ASCAP, they simply want publications to better match their ensembles.”
Tom Crawford, Pusch Ridge Christian Academy, Tucson, Ariz.

“I would love the opportunity to purchase a single copy of each part and have PDFs that we could print of for extra parts. I would also happily pay extra for this ability.”
Jim Jolley, Center Hill Middle School, Olive Branch, Miss.

“It would be nice to have each individual measure numbered. Some publishers do this; more would be good.”
Bill Manka, Fond du Lac High School, Fond du Lac, Wis.

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