The Hidden Costs of Paper for Orchestras

A report based on an audit of the 2015-16 season for a major symphony orchestra

The financial weight of sheet music paper for an orchestra’s music library is difficult to accurately measure.

Not only are music library expenses often distributed into the general operational costs of the orchestra, but some paper expenditures are not even identified.

To get a clear understanding of those “paper costs”, Newzik spent a month conducting an immersive analysis of these expenses for a major symphony orchestra. We decrypted every single invoice both directly and indirectly linked with paper and audited the way music librarians managed their time. We believe the results speak for themselves.

It is important to remember that these results are specific to the audited orchestra and should only be used as a general indication of costs, not as a definitive reference for other institutions. Many variables can impact costs: seasonal turnover, the number of players and performances, the percentage of purchased versus rented scores, etc.

Through this transparent report, Newzik’s goal is to raise awareness about hidden paper expenses that could be reduced or eliminated by transitioning to digital scores.

This report has been conducted by Newzik SAS. Newzik provides the technology and the consultancy to help orchestras through their transition into the digital era. Should you have any questions, feel free to contact us. 


for season 2015-16

This amount represents the total costs of paper for the audited orchestra, which consists of 80 musicians and 2 music librarians. Our analysis focused on their expenses for the 2015- 16 season. For this season, the orchestra’s music library rented 18 sets of scores and purchased 12 sets. The orchestra performed 132 times. Its annual budget for this season was $22M.

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