MuseScore joins Ultimate Guitar

• Feb 19, 2018 - 12:30

Cross post from the MuseScore blog.

Dear all,

Today we’d like to share important news with you concerning MuseScore.

Ten years ago we (Werner, Nicolas and Thomas) started working on MuseScore with the mission to democratise access to sheet music. The plan came in two steps. First by developing free music notation software for everyone, then followed by a platform to upload and share sheet music. The latter is a commercial service which sustained the development of the free and open source MuseScore music notation software.

We can fairly state that today MuseScore is the most popular notation software on the market, and by extend the world’s largest sheet music creators community. This is a great achievement which we, as an open source community, should be extremely proud of. Millions of people are learning and creating music with MuseScore every year.

That said, it’s important to also look at the other side of the medallion, a side which we didn’t much communicate about. As MuseScore has become a very large software project, on which so many users rely on for their hobby and work, keeping up with the growth has become a major challenge. Our company resources were not equally growing fast enough, and therefore the future of the MuseScore project could become uncertain.

It was always our intention to put a business model in place which could work for all stakeholders involved (creators, right holders, consumers) but we learnt that we could only achieve this by either a substantial external investment, or through a strategic partnership with a company who has established relationships with music publishers. After some time of researching both options, we opted for the latter.

In short, we have decided to let Ultimate Guitar acquire the MuseScore company. Ultimate Guitar has pioneered a successful model for working with music publishers, and all MuseScore users will be able to benefit from this. Additionally, there are more resources now to take on the next steps and turn MuseScore into the online destination for sheet music.

Of course, it is important to all of us that the open source nature of the MuseScore project is preserved. Therefore we would like to emphasize that the MuseScore notation software remains open source and that all code contributions will continue to be made under GPLv2. We are fully committed to make MuseScore 3 and all future releases happen and we will continue to make them available for free to the world.

We would like to thank everyone who has been on our journey so far and we hope to continue to work with all of you on the future of MuseScore. We also like to invite you to read the announcement by Ultimate Guitar founder Eugeny Naidenov. As always, do not hesitate to leave a comment.

Yours truly,

Werner, Nicolas, Thomas



Thanks to Thomas, Nicolas, and Werner for all you have done over the years to make MuseScore the incredible resource it is today - the software, the community, the scores, and the way this is all transforming how we create and use sheet music!

I am looking forward to this next chapter in the lifecycle of MuseScore. I will continue to contribute in the ways I have all along, and I will join in the exploration of the new directions that are now opening up. Full speed ahead!

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Dear Marc,

Thank you for your kind and encouraging words! This achievement has been a community effort in which you have played a leading role.

Some time ago I did a quick database query and found out that you contributed 28,278 comments, typing out 14,783,132 characters. Nicolas was quick to note that this is 4 times the number of characters in the Bible. While these may seem just some vanity numbers, it does show your relentless drive to help people.

I'm extremely happy you have come across our path so many years ago, and that we could finally meet each other in person last year. I feel one of my biggest personal achievements with MuseScore is that I could serve people who serve other people. It's this ripple effect which makes it so great. And I will continue to serve you and everyone else in this community.

Thank you all!

One thing that could use some fixing is the import musicxml feature. Whenever I import a .XML file to musescore, the articulations don't play back, including things like slurs. It might ignore certain dynamic changes as well, I don't remember. Specifically, This is when I am converting a finale file to edit it in Musescore. What I usually end up doing to make everything work is I copy everything from the xml file on musescore, and paste into a new musescore, but the only problem with that is that the formatting, text, and tempo changes don't copy over.

Ultimate Guitar? who's that? their website doesn't have any connection to anything i do and absolutely zero
genre interest level for me. hopefully they don't change a thing about musescore.

So who owns the copyright for code contributions to MuseScore? I couldn't find anything in the developer handbook about this or on the forum. Also how is income that MuseScore receives distributed among the many developers? Genuinely interested to know how this stuff works with a large free/open source project and also how it will change now that UG has taken over. Thanks.

In reply to by Guldberg

Hi Guldberg, tbh the FAQ was never made as there were little questions. So let me address the question regarding the licensing: it has been almost exactly one year since the acquisition and the CLA ( ) as well as the license policy ( ) has not been changed. As far as I know, there are no pending changes either.

Let me know if you have other questions.

In reply to by Thomas

There was a second question: "Also how is income that MuseScore receives distributed among the many developers? Genuinely interested to know how this stuff works with a large free/open source project and also how it will change now that UG has taken over."

In reply to by RobFog

It's not any different from other open source companies. Some developers are on the payroll, in order to dedicate their time full time on the open source project such as werner, lasconic and anatoly_os. But obviously the long tail of code contributors are working on MuseScore on their own terms. Again, this won't change as it has proven to be a successful product development model.

In reply to by Thomas

Thank you for your swift reply, Thomas.

The forum is rife with frustration vented at the commercial apps in Google Play and iTunes store which are using the same name as Musescore. These semi-commercial ventures had a positive origin: financing open source Musescore development. Now that Ultimate Guitar has taken over these apps users are losing features they have paid for, and are being cajoled into becoming beta-testers for problematic software.

What do you think about the following:
1) Ultimate guitar should rename their products for example "Ultimate Score Reader" or possibly "Ultimate Musescore Reader", - making it clear that this is an "Ultimate" product, not a "Musescore" product.

2) Establishing a website for disgruntled Songbook users to establish a clear channel of communication with Ultimate Guitar, or if worse comes to worse file complaints with iTunes Store and Google Play for activities that may be questionable business practices.

3) Establish a free-for all Musescore library, with a rating system, version control, reviews outside Ultimate Guitars walled-off garden ""?

Songbook was not an app that sold itself, at least not in our choir. It has required considerable amount of coaching, score editing and persuasion. It was a labor of love. To paraphrase Shakespeare: Hell hath no fury like a Musescorer scorned.

Again, thank you for your time and consideration.

Best regards,
Joe Siri Ekgren MD
Musescore-enthusiast, transcriber and former Songbook advocate
1st bass Sangselskabet Guldbergs Akademiske Kor

In reply to by Guldberg

I have indeed seen the feedback and I can only say is that the product and management team have taken notice of it. I'm not the company/product lead anymore, so I'm not in the position to say more about it.

What I can say is that with a new owner and team in place, there will be a learning curve. Werner, Nicolas and I had ten years to build up deep knowledge of what our platform and product features should provide. While I do my best to pass on all the little details on why we have done things we the way we did it, some info obviously gets lost into translation which is absolutely normal. In the end, we should all be aware there is a steep learning curve for users, but also for the new MuseScore employees. We all will have to learn to cope with the idea that it will take some time before they build up the same knowlegde which the original team had build up over a decade. There will certainly be moments of pain on all sides. We have seen them the past year, and certainly they will happen in the next year as well. That said, never stop ventilating your feedback, but do it in the right place and to the right people. The groups on are the right place for all things related to the apps and platform.

Finally, Ultimate Guitar and MuseScore are different product teams, so there is no mix up in focus and attention.

In reply to by Thomas

Thank you again for sharing your insights, Thomas.

I understand that there are two groups at work -
- Musescore mobile (previously Musescore free and Musescore Songbook) run by Ultimate Guitar
- Musescore desktop

Why is the Ultimate Guitar group allowed to use the Musecore name at all? The use of "Musescore" by Ultimate Guitar highly problematic which I have outlined above, and reflects negatively on the Musescore open source project. This is the reason for posting my three questions here on I am still curious as to what you think about my three suggestions for solutions.

In reply to by Guldberg

I believe there is some confusion at play. While Ultimate Guitar and MuseScore are owned by the same company, their teams are separate. They are actually in different physical spaces. The MuseScore team works on all products: the desktop sofware, the sites and the apps. So there is just one group of people in charge of all MuseScore related products. There is no such thing as MuseScore operated by Ultimate Guitar. I hope this clears up the confusion.

In reply to by Thomas

When you say they are owned by the same company how does that work for a community built project like Musescore? I mean I haven't seen anywhere that states who owns the copyright of code contributions to Musescore and without transferring copyright explicitly I believe the copyright of all code contributions are owned by the individuals that wrote the code, is that not so?

And now that I think about it anyone is free to fork Musescore's code base and sell it as a different product, so perhaps by ownership you mean that ultimate guitar own the Musescore trademark?

In reply to by Thomas

Thank you for your patience, Thomas. This certainly is confusing. I have, erronously, thought that the .org domain only hosts not-for profit organizations. I now see that many links on lead to

Has Ultimate Guitar acquired everything Musescore, i.e. not only the commercial arm (the Musescore Songbook app) but also the open source project Musescore (the notation program)?

In reply to by Guldberg

@Guldberg the for-profit MuseScore company, i.e. MuseScore BVBA is owner of and It also owns all contributions of coders who are/were on the payroll, and for code not written by those on the payroll, it holds the proper permissions as transfered via the CLA through the person of Werner Schweer, the original developer of the MuseScore notation software.

In reply to by Thomas

Thank you for the clarification, Thomas.

According to there are three ways of establishing a legal entity for open source projects:

"With both CLAs and CAAs, it is of course necessary that "the project" be some kind of legal entity able to enter into agreements. Sometimes the project is incorporated itself, usually as a non-profit entity; sometimes it is represented by an umbrella non-profit organization (such as the Apache Software Foundation or the Software Freedom Conservancy); sometimes a for-profit corporation considers itself the main sponsor of the project and requests contributor agreements in order to manage the development community and maintain a public distribution of the software in question."

If I have understood you correctly, the organization of the Musescore differs from other open source projects for example Firefox. The open source browser Firefox is owned by Mozilla foundation which is a not-for profit organization. The Mozilla foundation handles the Mozilla corporation. The Mozilla corporation does not own Firefox.

The way Musescore is organized now, the commercial MuseScore-mobile is a PR-liability, infuriating customers on several levels. This does not promote MuseScore loyalty and community. After having spent half a day trying to sort out why our singers cannot access the music we have painstakingly transcribed, I now have to inform everyone about this, and advise against downgrading Songbook to MuseScore-mobile.

Furthermore, the current organization means that any funds to Musescore desktop could easily be diverted, directly or indirectly to the owners. Why should anyone support an open source project which is owned by strong commercial interests?

Thank you again for taking time to explain, as this is not clear on internal and external sites describing Musescore, where there is no mention of Musescore BVBA.

In reply to by Guldberg

Open source (of free software as the case of Musescore) does not mean non-commercial. In fact it's in the interest of any large project to generate some income in order to sustain development over a long period of time. And a non-profit company doesn't mean a no income company either, it just means all income must be either disposed of or put back into the company so that the end of year books show zero profit.

In reply to by Guldberg

My read is that MuseScore uses the third of the three models mentioned in that article you quoted: "a for-profit corporation considers itself the main sponsor of the project and requests contributor agreements in order to manage the development community and maintain a public distribution". This is basically how MuseScore has been organized for as long as I can remember. MuseScore BVBA was a for-profit company for years before Ultimate Guitar ever became part of the picture.

So there really is no fundamental change here - just a rearranging of the details of how that for-profit company happens to be internally structured. Sure, there is always a chance that people working for this company could take money made from products they own and choose to do bad things with it. But that chance existed five years ago, it exists today, and it will exist five years from now, with MuseScore as well as any other product. I don't see any particular reason to fear this happening here. I get that the transition to a new model for the mobile apps is frustrating, but I have confidence the the glitches will cleared up, and that everyone involved wants to see MuseScore (the open source project, the website, and the mobile apps) succeed.

Disclaimer: I am not an employee of MuseScore BVBA or of Ultimate Guitar. I am a user of the software who has devoted enormous amounts of my time helping develop and support it (and am among those small few who have managed to indirectly derive a small amount of income from these efforts, through sales of my book, participation in GSoC, etc).

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Dear Marc,
Thank you for your reflections. I would also like all aspects of MuseScore to succeed: the open source project, the website, and the mobile apps.

But what does one do when a radical change in the Musescore app business model may reflect negatively on the Musescore open source project?

Please correct me if I am wrong. To me, it seems like the Songbook feature of accessing your own scores on Google Drive, iCloud, email is being removed intentionally, allowing file-access only through Thus all users are losing local/external access and are forced to open an account in

This change of functionality without explicitly creating a new app, if I have understood correctly, may be considered a "hi-jacking" of the Songbook app. In Songbook the external access to files was a key feature. The Songbook file handling has been crippled to be a reader for the library. (Sort of like buying a car, and suddenly forced to drive only on toll-roads.) At any rate, the previous reviews on Google Play and App Store are now grossly misleading, and both Google Play and iOS App Store should be alerted to this.

The new team seems to be in a rush. The upside is that the staff now answer questions rapidly. The downside is that premature launching of the new Musescore app is disrupting the workflow of conductors and musicians. This was not intended, of course, yet the Musescore team seems to have disregarded warnings given by experienced users 4 months ago, during beta testing. AFAIK there has been no move to repost Songbook on Google Play or App Store.

The lack of a clarifying Musescore products naming scheme is also creating confusion. Simply calling the app MusescoreLibrary Player would go a long way to show there is a distinction between the open MuseScore Songbook and the new app where file-handling is limited to accessing

I thoroughly enjoy your contribution to the Musescore project, both your webinars as well as your immensly useful book. My contribution, not being an avid programmer, has been to facilitate transcription of our archive of choral music, where the Public Domain scores have been shared on, as well as persuading the majority of singers in our choir to use Songbook.

The extra workload precipitated by the Musescore team means that our choir will have to come up with a plan B in the form of a Music XML player alternative for the singers that unwittingly accepted the Songbook downgrade to the new MuseScore app.

In reply to by Guldberg

I would simply add that while there may be glitches in this particular release of this particular product, glitches have happened in many previous release of this and other previous products as well. Again, I wouldn't be in a rush to panic. If you trust, as I do, that everyone wants this succeed, then succeed it will!

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

@Marc Sabatella,
People are losing their work and have their workflows severely crippled, despite warnings the last 4 months. Right now, for a number of musicians, the new Musescore "walled garden" business model is a disaster. A more prudent approach would have been in order. A "glitch" seems to me a bit insensitive and euphemistic. I would like the Musescore desktop to succeed, but not by harming customers.

In reply to by RobFog

@RobFog, Exactly. One might consider a clearer division between the
- opens source project Musescore Desktop
- the commercial project Musescore App-Musescore Library (
Separating the the projects by name would be a good start. "Musescore" is today: a desktop app, tablet/smartphone apps, a score library, an account system, as well as the excellent, but deleted Songbook app. This bodes for unnecessary confusion.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

@Jojo_Schmitz Agreed: The issue of vanishing files is a MuseScore 2.x app problem, not an issue in Musescore desktop. I am sorry for lack of clarity on my part.

I am not sure I understand what you mean about the vanishing files glitch being "just a couple of days old". The deletion of Songbook files "glitch" is described May 7th. Actually you reported this among other issues:…

Apparently the deletion of Songbook-files was planned according to Dimitriy Popov May 17th:
"Songbook has been deleted because it's not a part of the free app."

Please correct me if I am in error.

In reply to by Guldberg

the iOS 2.x app is only a few days old. Prior to that indeed there was a beta of the Android player (not Songbook) app that also had bad glitches and got into the wild and replaced the Songbook app, by accident.
And indeed Songbook is and ever was the non-free app, while the MuseScore player was free (but not available for iOS as of a certain date, just for Android, due to some struggle with Apple's store).

But I agree, it seems they made basically the same bad mistake twice, releasing a software that hasn't been properly tested.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Testing of pre-releases needs to be a much higher priority. The new larger core group of developers has not done a good of a job at squashing bug as the fewer there were before the merger. I want MuseScore to be a quality product and will do what little I can to help with that. Hopefully the Ultimate Guitar people are paying attention to this discussion.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Guldberg's quote suggests that the removal of the Songbook app was planned beacuse it was a "paid for" app, which seems a strange reason. Shouldn't all users who have already paid for it be allowed to re-install it?
Having both apps on my device I wonder why the Songbook's source code was not used as the basis for the new Musescore app since it seems superior, particularly for score rendering.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

But surely this could've been done without downgrading the score rendering? Attached pics show the same 2 bars from a score and the Musescore rendering is quite poor. (These are screenshots from an HD tablet and it's interesting that the Musescore filesize is so much less, probably indicating the lack of detail compared to Songbook).

Attachment Size
Musescore.png 10.83 KB
Songbook.png 15.67 KB

In reply to by Guldberg

I would suggest starting a new thread, in the correct venue (on to discuss the rendering. As far as I know that glitch that occurs on your specific tablet hasn't been reported before. My understanding is that the app uses the exact same rendering engine as MuseScore itself, so any differences in how it looks would have to do with differences in the graphics libraries used. Most likely any issues that how up would only appear on certain screen sizes / resolutions. But this is all educated guesswork on my part. Again, best to bring it up specifically in the proper venue so the people working on the app can investigate.

In reply to by Guldberg

@Guldberg: It's a long shot but have you tried accessing the Musescore Songbook app via the Library section of the play store's "My apps & games"? This keeps a history of your installed apps so it might just be there.

I have also experienced problems with the new Musescore app but luckily I haven't uninstalled Songbook.

In reply to by Thomas

@Thomas, "moments of pain on both sides" is turning into a chronic pain syndrome. There is no need for the paying Songbook customers to suffer. Some users were using Songbook in their work and are stuck with file-loss and crippled software. Friends do not let these things happen to friends.

Today I have written to the Eugeny Naidenov, CEO of Ultimate Guitar, on the Musescore blog… :

"To Eugeny Naidenov

There are a host of issues with the Musescore app for Android/iOS. Users cannot use local files anymore and are forced to sign an account with and upload them to access them again. That means $49/y for a feature they already have paid for.

Could you please help the Ultimate Guitar Musescore App team upload the Musescore Songbook app version 1.13 to Google Play and iTunes App Store, while version 2 is being developed?

Songbook customers did not expect to become beta-testers for an unfinished product.

Numerous other discussions highlight that flaws in the Musescore app v2.x are critical.

Kind regards,
Joe Siri Ekgren"

In reply to by Guldberg

and are forced to sign an account with and upload them to access them again. That means $49/y for a feature they already have paid for. No

While I get your frustration, it has been stated by staff in the user group as well as on facebook that users that had bought songbook have been upgraded to a lifetime Pro membership.
Yes, it doesn't lessen the actual buggy state the software is in, nor the lack of functionality in their current release or the seemingly stubborn refusal to restore the old version until the new one is at least on par; but it does show you that (although clumsy at it has started) there is no intention to harm existing customers.

In reply to by yonah_ag

Pro membership on and having bought the Songbook app don't have to do anything with one another.
But if you bought the Songbook app (<=1.13), you'll get all the Pro features in the new MuseScore app (>=2.0).
Not sure how subscribing to the Pro features in the new app relate to the Pro account on though

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

@Jojo-Schmitz the Ultimate Guitar Musescore Team (UGMT) intentions and reality do not always meet, to say the least. Pricing and features are not transparent, support is sporadic, and UGMT refuses to upload a functioning app 1.13. The term UGMT underscores that the Songbook app has changed for the worse, and something died at Musescore since Thomas Bonte, Nicolas Froment and Werner Scheer sold Musescore to Ultimate Guitar.

Le roi est mort, vive le roi! - The king is dead, long live the Return On Investment(ROI)!

In reply to by jeetee

@jeetee I agree that this has been stated, but users report different experiences. Customers relying on Musescore Songbook for their work, such as gigs, have been harmed. There is little consolation that the harm was not intended. Even less that this is happening for the second time.

I had a chance to meet some of the guys from Ultimate Guitar recently. For me, they come across as serious players with a large and committed organisation behind them. They have managed to forge a path through the tricky legal minefields of the music publishing industry - and they still seem to have fun, and maintain their own identity and independence. Quite a good model for us in MuseScore to join?

Hi, this seems like pretty good news . . . particularly if it means we can add guitar pieces/tabs to UG from our Musescore files. It will be interesting to see how the two sites work together, particularly as they seem to have different philosophies concerning the acceptance of contributions. But as a user of both sites, I'm looking forward to seeing how it all develops.

Do you still have an unanswered question? Please log in first to post your question.