The State of MuseScore

Over the past years, we have been focusing on two major aspects of the MuseScore project: adding features and make MuseScore as stable as possible. We have really come a long way. With the launch of musescore.org in September 2008, things started to accelerate. It facilitated more interaction between users and developers on all levels: bug hunting, writing documentation, translating the software and much more.

Two years later, the results are phenomenal. From 2000 downloads in Aug 2008, MuseScore has grown to an astonishing 80000 downloads last month. This growth is something we can be very proud of. With these massive figures, MuseScore is on the verge of entering the top100 of most downloaded open source software world wide. If you checked the download graph carefully, you'll notice that in the past 2 months, the download figures doubled. We attribute this to the elevated interest of music education in MuseScore.

This terrific news obviously introduces some new and steeper challenges. MuseScore users will expect that new releases are stable, that their old scores can be opened in new releases and still look the same. Also, the more features in MuseScore, the tougher it will become to get to a stable release within a decent time frame. And let's not forget we need MuseScore running on several platforms. To sum up, MuseScore is becoming a huge project. We can only cope with it if we have some people behind the project who are fully dedicated to it.

I have been discussing this matter with Nicolas and Werner for quite some time now. At FOSDEM 2010, we came together for the first time in real life. While talking this through, it all came down to the simple fact that if we want to support and further develop MuseScore on a full time basis, there needs to be a business model in place. Since we didn't want to touch the free & open nature of MuseScore, we thought we should try to create an online sheet music sharing platform. We announced it for the first time in April this year and while it's still in alpha, you can take a look already at http://musescore.com. The business model behind this website will be similar as the one from Flickr.com: a subscription based service for more storage and features.

While we don't know yet whether this business model will succeed, we took the plunge and have been spending full time now on the development of MuseScore, musescore.org and musescore.com. The basic idea is that the revenue made with musescore.com will fund some of the key people behind MuseScore. Initially this will be Werner, Nicolas and myself. This solution is somewhat similar to the Wordpress project, where some of the core Wordpress developers are on the payroll of Automattic, the company behind wordpress.com.

These are really exciting times for us. If we succeed, we’ll be able to make a living from our hobby and passion. And while doing so, MuseScore will further improve and grow.

Comments

WOW!

I'm so proud of you guys. This software is really good quality stuff. You should pat yourselves on the back.

Thomas, Very interesting what

Thomas,

Very interesting what you wrote! I was not aware of a ‘musescore.com’ site and I do not quite understand how this site will generate a revenue for the key people of this excellent program but I hope it will of course.

Joe.

De Staat van MuseScore

Een heel interessant verhaal hoor Thomas. Het heeft veel vragen bij mij weg genomen over MuseScore. Wat leuk dat het programma zo aanslaat. Als ik op de een of andere manier mee kan helpen (eerst maar even de Visuele Hulp afmaken) hoor ik dat graag.

Hartelijke groet

FredPaul

awesome

I can't imagine my life before musescore. I was certainly less effective at writing music back then. Sitting at the piano and plunking notes, then grabbing the pencil and jotting down a few notes on composition paper while the tune is still in my head just seems so archaic! I'm certainly no Mozart, but musescore has notably improved my composition (and transcription) skills.

You guys are awesome!

business model educational package

I'm impressed by the software, it's much more sophisticated than I could gather from the introductory videos (which were a great help getting started). As you mentioned, freeware like this offers big advantages to schools. It's true that Finale and others offer a free version, but they are stripped down products compared to musescore.

My suggestion would be to create "fill in the blanks" files that teach and test knowledge of basic musical concepts (and are fun to do). You might then sell these as a package to educators or go into schools yourselves to hold workshops that help teachers use the software for instruction and helping students compose with it. You might even be able to use it for online teaching.

I wish you good luck with this interesting project.

Not sure if this is what

Not sure if this is what you're looking for but these kinds of packages do exist.

Check out some of them:

http://www.solfege.org/
http://scret.sourceforge.net/

right idea

Thanks for the interesting links. The first one seemed really sophisticated, something for fairly advanced students. I was thinking more on the lines of filling in missing parts of known melodies, and trying to check correctness by listening to the score playback. Or creating a few measures of percussion. Of course a file like this can be created by the teacher after getting the program down pat, but ready-made examples are always attractive - many music teachers are not specialists and have a big work load in other subjects.

Why not also start a

Why not also start a worldwide volunteer network of MuseScore demonstrators to go into the schools and help them with their use of the software? You could create a list of volunteers and connect schools with them. There would of course be legal issues involved, since you're dealing with minors, but a good system of screening volunteers could be established - most schools probably already have some sort of regulation already in place for visiting volunteers, so it might not even be an issue in many places. I certainly would be interested in doing something like that - as a volunteer. I absolutely love the software despite the many technical challenges I've had with it. You guys must be overwhelmed with the number of messages you're now receiving, so I will understand if you don't have a reply and pleasantly surprised if you do.

Hosted Solutions?

Perhaps you could have something like a hosted solution for schools or whoever needs it? Or something like that...

I'm thinking of the Oracle installation we have at our University - the university pays X amount of money per year for access to various Oracle services, all hosted under the University's own domain...

congratulations! :)

congratulations! :)

nagware

Unfortunately as we all know it's pretty hard to make money selling free software :)
I wish you well in your current monetary endeavor.
If it doesn't pan out, maybe you could/should make musescore nagware--it nags until they donate something and get a token :)
The only other way to make money with it is to get a job using it, basically, which is pretty hard. That or attract lots of musicians who are also programmers, to participate, which...might be hard.
Thoughts?
-r

making things clear

Just to make something clear, I have no plans to make any money out of musescore - I was just thinking out loud about how the creators of the software could, so they would have the time to further improve this great project.

My suggestion was to keep the freeware status of the software, but offer supplementary material for educators using it in the classroom or as an individualized course in music theory. As a teacher I know that ready-to-use hands-on material is always welcome because it takes considerable time to create it from scratch.

Many thanks

This is a wonderful program. There are many things about it that I like better than Sibelius, and as a student that still can't afford the educational discounts, this is a far superior alternative. Thank you so much for all the hard work you have and continue to put into this program.

agree

Agree. My wife far prefers MuseScore over finale notepad (only thing we could afford at $10) and of course it's way better than the trial period of notepad, which only lets you edit one page I think :)

Strategies

I would simply put a "PayPal Donate" logo box on the website, and make it obvious. There is absolutely no question in my mind that MuseScore is worth supporting. This method is a known-good way to get the job done: PayPal is a reliable service and, of course, a trusted name. (The visual element of seeing "that trademark logo" is important here... text won't have the same effect because it won't be noticed in the same way.)

No "nags" or other obnoxious-ware, kindly: we really don't need convincing. Just provide (this...) easy and obvious way to collect contributions, and the software will earn the rest. You are providing a tremendous service to the music writing community by what you have accomplished. We all know that, and support your very excellent work. (I'm a software developer by trade and ... "wow.")

Your software might be free, but no one works for free... and no one seriously expects you to. Just make the necessary arrangements with PayPal, and perhaps send a one-time email blast to your subscriber list... so that we know.

There is already a paypal

There is already a paypal account for MuseScore. See Donate. Maybe is not obvious enough ?

As far as I know, the donate page is "advertised" with every newsletter. A newsletter is issued for every new release I think.

As stated, the donation is used to pay the hosting of MuseScore.org. Last year we raised $2000, that's great because it did pay the hosting but it's not a way to pay developers. The goal for this year is $5000, because hopefully, the number of MuseScore users will grow !

Perhaps it not obvious enough

I myself, who look at MS site every day, I was not sure there was a donation medium. As Mike said, the Paypal logo, with its graphics and colours attracts the eye (and the heart) much more than an item among many other in a list.

IMHO, the barest minimum would be to add the Paypal logo to the menu item.
Better, add an explicit Donate box (with logo!) to the bottom of the right hand menu (below "Languages").
Even better, add a box to the site header (the blue bar at top), at the right of the "Download" box, maybe slightly smaller (so not to be TOO blatant).

Just my 0,02 €...

M.

BTW, another possible model

BTW, another possible model for generating revenue: selling support services. I know other open source projects have gone that route, although I have no idea how successful they've been. But I suspect you'd get some interest from educational institutions.

Business models

Hi Marc,

The revenue model you propose is most certainly working, but often not to sustain a large scale consumer oriented open source project. It mainly works for business to business open source projects such as Red Hat, Drupal, Wordpress and more. Having said that, this does not mean this revenue stream can be neglected. Let me share my model.

I see commercially ran services like online storage, distribution and mobile consumer apps of sheet music *big* enough to sustain the future software development of MuseScore and to keep it free & open. But MuseScore users might want more services such as training, workshops, arranging, orchestration, transcribing, copying, printing and more. These services can be perfectly tackled by the ecosystem around MuseScore. In fact, we recently invited everyone who is offering some service around MuseScore to list themselves at http://musescore.org/en/services

I'm eager to find out what you all think about this model.

I wasn't aware of that

I wasn't aware of that services listing. I think that's a very good idea, and I may participate there. It seems it would mostly benefit the people listing themselves and not necessarily the core MuseScore team, though. But if you think that musescore.com and related services will be sufficient for that purpose, great!

BTW, how would a person wanting to avail themselves of services via the page you listed find out about it? Shouldn't there be some sort of "Support" link on the main page that contained links to that page as well as the handbook, forum, Katie's tutorial site, etc?

Call to action

The services listing has been put up so everyone with a musescore.org account can promote themselves and indeed not just the core team. We believe that an open ecosystem around MuseScore is much more important, as opposed to a controlled/closed one. You can find the link to the services page in the footer of this website.

You second remark nailed it: we need to redesign the navigation structure of the web. Over the past year, new pages and possibilities were added, so we need a major overhaul. There is even an issue open: #6128: [Website] Improving the menu structure & copywriting
This is a call to action. Let's define a better navigating structure and update all the text that guides the users through the website.

Just added myself to the

Just added myself to the services list, which i was previously unaware of.

We have a great scorewriting application in MuseScore, and with the growth of the support community I believe it will become better and better.

I have one reservation about the Musescore.com business model in that I think 5 hosted scores is too low, but otherwise I think it is a good plan. Personally I would make the limit 10 scores.

Edit: A thought has just occured to me - it would be a good idea for all of us actively engaged in MuseScore support to share each other's links on our websites, that way gaps in one person's site can be covered by another.

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