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.