May The Digital Era Arise!
Let’s immerse into the future, in a world where paper sheet music does not exist anymore…
Sheet music along with publishers went digital and musicians now play their instrument in front of a screen that displays their music scores (at least… that is the most likely outcome of today’s digital revolution).
We must take a closer look at the impacts of digitalized sheet music on musicians and music publishers.
I. The Musician & Co.
The musician (conductor included) is standing on stage. In front of him sits his tablet displaying his digital scores; they are lighter and easier to handle than paper scores and still keeps the same format he had before on his paper sheets. He is thinking: “gone are the days when I had to carry around heavy paper scores for a tour, when scores were forgotten or lost, or, even, when it took me hours to transpose a score”. Moreover, no more pencils or erasers are needed. In fact, the concertmaster inscribes bow stamps or other annotations and they are directly transmitted to every musician’s screen in the orchestra. Thus, the librarian’s role has been redefined. He still takes care of an orchestra’s library but it takes him much less time to get ready for a tour, rehearsal or representation and he works with the agent linking the publisher to the orchestra.
All of them, the librarian, the musician, and the concertmaster, save time, money, and the last two avoid losing concentration.
Oh…and also no more page turn issues in the future. Either the maestro turns pages for everyone at the exact measure, or every musician has their own page turning Bluetooth pedal for more comfort. It is quicker, more precise and a noise free movement within the silent concert hall. The digital reader can also recognize the music starting and launch itself, which enables an automatic page turn.
The concert can now start; the musicians can concentrate solely on their music and leave the distracting details behind.
II. The Publisher
The publisher is also quite satisfied. He does not have to print a thousand times every score he wants to publish anymore, he does not need to think about paper or unsold stocks. He does not have to worry about losing scores, or organizing his distribution to ship sheet music all over the world. Everything is on the internet, already ‘distributed’ to every household, sheet music has now gone digital and is available to everyone. It does not mean anyone can download scores from anywhere, however. All the publisher’s digital sheet music is locked, people cannot hack into it or print it and give it away to a friend, and no screenshots are possible.
So, to sum up: this new technology lowers manufacturing and logistics costs, eliminates stock and hacking issues and also eliminates the paper-related environmental impact.
At a time when paper score sales are decreasing compared to score sales online, the evolution towards digitalization seems unavoidable. Today, everyone impacted by the digitalization of the music world tries to adapt and develop good habits towards digital sheet music. As difficult as it may be for some, at some point musicians will have to abandon their old but dear paper scores and embrace this technological revolution.