On the surface, it would seem that digital sheet music would be a great idea and fall in line with our new world filled with instant gratification and digital device obsession. Sadly, most digital sheet music has fallen short by delivering an overpriced product with limitations. Unlike digital ebooks, the actual delivery methods of most digital sheet music is not convenient and adds unnecessary cost.
Cons of Using Digital Sheet Music
Limitations of Use. When musicians purchase digital sheet music, they are likely looking to use it on their tablets or other smart device. They want the flexibility of uploading it to a sheet music app, like Chromatik or APS Music Master Pro. To do this, the digital sheet music must be in PDF format. Most of the large digital sheet music suppliers do not offer this format, making the digital sheet music unusable. According to the permissions of the larger digital sheet music companies, the user is able to print one copy of the music sheet. The digital sheet music can be viewed in a web browser, but may not be used with any other app.
Added Cost. When you purchase a digital file from an online seller, you expect it to cost less than if you ordered a physical copy that requires printing and shipping. However, with digital sheet music, the digital file costs the same as and sometimes more than physical sheet music. If you wish to provide a set of sheet music for a band or musical ensemble, you must then print the music. If you opt to print on thicker paper and in an 11x17 saddle stitched booklet, as is expected, your printing costs begin to climb. This assessment doesn't consider the added time it takes to work with a printer and pick up the finished product.
All Sales Are Final. Unlike most online purchases, digital sheet music does not permit returns. When a musician purchases printed sheet music, they have the option to return it if they find that it will not work out. Once you complete the purchase of digital sheet music, the sale is final.
Although there are some cases where purchasing digital sheet music may be an added convenience, overall, it fails to support small businesses and does not deliver in ways that other digital media does. Digital sheet music is also not permitted in many traditional settings, such as orchestras. The collective digital glow is distracting.
Those of us who hold fast to paper sheet music are paying homage to the beauty of pencil markings and the tangible sheet that began in 1473. There is something so lovely about the sound of turning paper and the build up of notes that are accumulated on paper sheet music. Sheet music will always be paper in our minds.