This year, we were very honored and excited to participate at the 2018 Major Orchestra Librarians’ Association (MOLA) annual conference as exhibitors for the second time.

The MOLA convention is a platform where music librarians of leading orchestras from all over the world gather for four days to share their professional knowledge and experience, listen to lectures from fellow librarians, participate in panel discussions and network.

Top music publishing houses, including Bärenreiter, Ricordi, Breitkopf and Härtel, also take part in the event, as well as smaller publishers like Dunvagen Music Publishers, NYC Music Services and Scores Reformed.

Why did Newzik participate at the MOLA conference?

MOLA 2018 orchestra librarian digital score

As an organization, one of our main goals is to understand (and answer) the needs of music librarians when it comes to sheet music preparation – and what better place to do that on an international level than the MOLA conference!

The conference offers a precious opportunity to meet and get to know music librarians from around the world, ask questions, discuss the relevance of paper in the digital era, make demos and get feedback from those who are at the base of the huge sheet music distribution pyramid.

Our aim is to show that the industry is ready to see paper sheet music replaced by digital scores, which are much more beneficial to musicians. The benefits of digital scores are countless: digital readers allow users to share annotations, use colors, work remotely, navigate between different parts, rearrange pieces, and receive content instantly, just to name a few. Digital is more flexible, cleaner and, surprisingly, cheaper than paper.

Evolving perceptions: the difference in how music librarians reacted to Newzik at MOLA 2017 and MOLA 2018

Only 10 months separated our first time exhibiting at the 2017 MOLA conference in San Diego and our second time there, at the 2018 conference in Kansas City. Yet, we felt that so much had changed.

At the 2017 MOLA conference, librarians who came to our booth were curious about the idea of digital sheet music in general, but were also very sceptical as to its day-to-day use. One argument we often heard, was why change the good old paper system that had worked so well for centuries. Many doubts were expressed about the hardware being expensive, cumbersome and not sufficiently secure. They raised many questions and potential problems regarding practical issues, such as the size of the iPad Pro’s screen or risk for the eyes. To sum up, the main reaction was: it may work in the future, but not on my shift.

In contrast, we found that perceptions had significantly changed at the 2018 MOLA conference. Music librarians came to our booth to ask us how to deal with increasing numbers of musicians asking to receive clean PDF material, how to efficiently use iPads for score preparation, how to adjust the layout of the material for the A4 iPad Pro… It was clear that, this year, music librarians could see the real needs met by our digital solution, and understand its huge benefits.

How Newzik has improved its software

Our main strength rests on our experience: over the years, we have collaborated with many orchestras, such as the Vienna State Opera or the Orchestre National d’Ile de France. We have worked in close collaboration with music librarians to set up a number of successful trials, with musicians performing with the Newzik application on iPad Pros.

Thanks to the precious feedback we have received from both musicians and librarians, we were able to make significant improvements to the application. The evolution of Newzik was reviewed in this article, written by Philip Rothman, head of NYC Music Services and an expert in orchestral music preparation.

Our new cropping and rearranging tools are just two examples of a host of new features that we recently implemented, and which were particularly appreciated by the librarians working with our application. Some of those features are demonstrated in this video.

Newzik aims at being the best option for music librarians that use both Adobe Acrobat and Photoshop.

Working with PDFs in Newzik

Newzik and annotations

The Success of the Newzik Academy

In addition to improving our application, we invested time and effort to create an online informative program especially tailored to music librarians – the Newzik Academy.

The Newzik Academy consists of three different chapters (Score Digitization, Score Optimization and Digital Performance), and aims to answer questions and provide information regarding the use of digital technology within a library’s workflow. To receive your digital copy of our Academy publications, please register here.

To date, approximately 80 music librarians have subscribed to this program. We were fortunate to meet many of them at the MOLA conference, and were able to further discuss and answer questions on the topics they had read about in our program, including PDF editing software, copyright for digital scores and the effect of digital screens on our eye health.

Music Librarians seem to be ready

It seems that in 2018, many orchestral librarians can see the huge benefits of technology and of the digital sheet music system. The librarians we met at the 2018 MOLA conference had clearly understood that the future is already here and that orchestras are ready to start working with digital material.

The question “why should orchestras use digital sheet music?” has now been firmly replaced by “how can orchestras effectively transition from paper to digital?”. And that’s the question Newzik is here to answer.