Sheet Happens: One of Music’s Oldest Businesses Is Growing in the Digital Age

Today — thanks to online stores like Musicnotes, digital subscription services and music-notation formats for tablets and phones — sheet-music sales are booming. They generated $240 million in global revenue in 2018, according to Musicnotes — a tiny fraction of the overall publishing business. But the sheet-music sector is growing quickly: The National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) has said that sales were up 7 percent in 2017 compared with the previous year. “I don’t believe we have a ceiling, really,” says Lorenzo Brewer, co-founder/CEO of Nkoda, a $10-a-month subscription service launched last year.

Some of this growth is fueled by musicals like Bohemian RhapsodyA Star Is BornThe Greatest Showman and La La Land. “Five years ago, it slowed down a little bit — there wasn’t a lot of content that thrilled the audience,” says Marsh. “But the last couple of years, we’ve picked back up.”

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