free account limitations should be obvious from the start

• Aug 28, 2016 - 19:30

Not sure if it's really the right way to post this, but apparently there is no forum.

I absolutely love the software, and the service, and I wouldn't mind to support it, but there's one issue: at this time, I think, the presentation of pro accounts is bordering on deceptive business practice.

First, when you register a new account, nothing says that you are limited to five scores, or what will happen when you hit that limit. The terms of service that you are asked to accept do not mention any details all.
After the account is created, there are no hints what the limit is and how many more scores you can upload before you have to upgrade.
The only way to learn about exact limit before you hit it is to read the help article on "Upgrade to a pro account". The "Is MuseScore free" article (…-) only vaguely mentions "some limitations" wthout any specific details too.

I'm going to apply the Hanlon's razor here and not blame anyone for making it intentionally deceptive; but it's exactly the way it looks now. The user is not told that free accounts are limited to an impractically small number of scores, and thus cannot make a truly informed decision whether they want to use the service or not.

On a side note, I have a problem with the way "downgrade" is handled. Suppose I make hundreds of scores and people love them, but then I become unable to pay for the service, or stop doing music, or get abducted by aliens. Not only I lose access to those scores, everyone else does too. Anything stored in a pro account can be gone next day, and if people release it as all rights reserved, they can't even be legally mirrored.

It's too late for me to choose to never have used, but until the users are not made aware of the real terms of service before they register their accounts, I definitely will not support the service through subscription purchase and rather make a donation to support MuseScore development.


In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

If something happen to me that I can't pay for it anymore, it will be effectively lost for everyone, that's what I mean.
But my biggest problem is not even that does it (authors are obviously free to set any terms they want), but that the users are not made aware of it before they create an account, or even any soon after!

In reply to by dmbaturin

Ciao dmbaturin, I'm just an end user but, if I'm not wrong, I see that there is the warning about it in… and similarly in the handbook:…
therefore consider like a storefront and always put your scores 'to secure' (a backup on a removable memory).
In any case, welcome aboard, I hope you can still appreciate the software.

Thank you for raising your voice on this dmbaturin. You are totally right about it, and incidentally, we are working to improve our communication about the upload limit as we speak. It will be clearly stated on the page, which currently is not. Also the page is being improved so it will become much easier for current and new users what to expect. I'll post a follow up comment once the improvements are in place.

In reply to by Thomas

Hi Thomas, glad to hear that! I still think users should be made aware of it before they create an account, both in detailed fineprint in the ToS and as a human-readable comment. When the fact that free account is pretty much a free trial and you have to upgrade to pro if you are actually going to use the service comes as a surprise only after registering the account, it's a very unpleasant surprise. ;)

In reply to by dmbaturin

If I may add a few words--I don't remember feeling misled when I first started using MuseScore and created my free account. It seems to me it was pretty transparent, even if there was no 'big red warning' on the sign-up page. Not that adding such a warning would be a bad thing, of course, but MuseScore's sign-up procedure seemed to me to be in line with most other 'free' on-line services, and more honest than many of them. Google, for instance, makes everything to do with managing one's Google account so complex that no normal human being can possibly get through the clutter. When I discovered that Google was (without my knowledge) re-addressing all my e-mails to G-mail clients using the silly nickname I'd selected years earlier in order to post a You Tube video, it took me several hours of fighting my way through the morass of levels and misdirection on their site to delete my account so that wouldn't happen anymore. Once they get ahold of you, they really don't want to let go.

MuseScore, otoh, is as pure as the driven snow in this regard, and its pretty clear to me that MuseScore has no nefarious hidden agenda. Kudos to Thomas and the whole MuseScore organisation for being straight shooters. There are damned few of them left in this world, and they should be encouraged.

We all know (or ought to know) by now that there's no such thing as a free lunch, and that somewhere in every freebie there is a price to pay. MuseScore is absolutely free software, and considering what the commercial competition charges for an (IMO) inferior product, I don't at all mind paying $49 per year to help support the core team's efforts. As a music publisher, I use their software absolutely free to create what (in theory) will one day be profitable products. If and when the day arrives that I actually stop losing money at this venture, a percentage of each sale will be donated to MuseScore in recognition of their contribution to that success. In the meantime, I am happy to pay the $49 each year so that my company's scores can be stored on a secure server in the event our VPN ever gets hacked or the 'mainframe' crashes between backups.

I do not consider the basic MuseScore account as a typical 'free trial' come-on deal. Adobe's so-called free-trial of their full-function pdf editor comes with deeply embedded spy-bots and if you don't pay up after the thirty-day 'free trial' period is over, the program takes over your computer and refuses to allow you to do anything else until you have shut down the reminder. But you can't shut it down for good: Every time you start your computer, Adobe's pay-me prompt shows up again. There is no 'don't remind me again' option...which is the way they want it. Worse, just 'uninstalling' the free-trial version does nothing to solve this; I needed to use a specially-written utility application to clean my system of all the Adobe spy-ware. In any rational world, that sort of thing would be illegal and the owners of Adobe would be held criminally responsible...but the internet is not a rational world. It is a world unto itself.

MuseScore could do this sort of thing--the programmers who run the organisation are more than competent to write such scripts if they chose to do so--but it doesn't. If you don't want to pay for a pro account, nothing bad will happen to your computer, and all your uploaded scores will be preserved on their server. The only limitation is that if you want access to more than the most recent five scores, you need to pay up. That seems eminently fair to me. Server hardware isn't free, nor are the data lines that connect them to the internet.

In reply to by Recorder485

>it's pretty clear to me that MuseScore has no nefarious hidden agenda
Well, I never said they do. There are indeed services that feel far worse, and probably do have nefarious hidden agenda, but it's not my point. I agree with every thing you say about google, and I have a big problem with them using email content for ads targeting, BUT, google apps are very upfront about the 25 mailboxes limit for free subscriptions. When free vs paid is involved, google offers more straightforward experience. ;)

>We all know (or ought to know) by now that there's no such thing as a free lunch
Well, of course there is not. I'm not complaining about the lunch not being free, only about terms and conditions not being communicated properly.

>MuseScore is absolutely free software
I never said I have any problem with the software. It's the service I'm talking about.

>I am happy to pay the $49 each year so that my company's scores can be stored on a secure server
Note that the ToS says that they are free to delete your account or terminate the service without prior notice and cannot be held liable for it. The "security" of it is in your imagination only. ;)
I'm inclined to think the service is sustainable enough to live a long life and the policy is sane enough to not remove accounts for no good reason, but data security just isn't what you pay for in this case. There are hosting companies with SLA that assume (limited) liability for service interruptions, and they are priced appropriately, but that's another topic.

>I do not consider the basic MuseScore account as a typical 'free trial' come-on deal.
Adobe is indeed a particularly bad example, but a typical free trial is what it is, you can get enough service functionality or duration to decide if you want to use it, and then you either pay or leave.
There are certain expectations about terms, and if they are not defined in the fineprint, the expectations is all one can have. And when services advertise something as a "free account", most of the time they mean what they say, the minimally usable service is free, and you can pay for additional features. Flickr, github, most blog hostings and many more work this way. This also brings us to
>Server hardware isn't free, nor are the data lines that connect them to the internet.
I could wonder how a photo hosting is going to stay free and if it is, when average person easily uploads a few Mbytes of data from every friday party. When average person writes a new composition once in a few weeks and it takes maybe one Mbyte complete with its PDF and autogenerated audio, the expectation that "free account" is something more than five scores is... rather strong. If someone has written 100 compositions (which is already a rather prolific composer), the cost of storing them all is a few cents per month. My point of course is not that I'm somehow entitled to a free service, but that five scores limit is surprising enough to deserve a big upfront warning.

In reply to by dmbaturin

Please excuse me if my comments appeared to be directed at you; that was not my intention. I simply wanted to offer my own perspective for general consideration. That perspective is apparently based on a different life experience than yours. I am 65 years old, and formed my basic world-view long before the internet was a fact of life. That said, you will understand that maxims such as 'anything free is worth what you pay for it' and 'let the buyer beware' are pretty basic elements of my philosophy.

I am, OTOH, one of the first to complain--loudly!!--when I see internet and software companies taking what I consider to be unfair advantage of people who do not have the specialised knowledge required to defend themselves. So our basic positions are not as far apart as it might seem; it is just that I have come to know the MuseScore team moderately well over the years I've been using the program, and I feel that, if anyone should be given the benefit of the doubt, they should.


In reply to by Inflixer

What change are you expecting? You can use Musescore to try and learn the basics of music making with as many scores as you like, locally on your PC.
But on there is 5 scores to share for free, anything beyond needs a pro account, and such an account doesn't cost a fortune. The restriction to share only up 5 scores on does in no way prevent you to use Musescore to try and learn the basics of music making at all.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

I apologize for miswording myself (obviously I can still learn the basics) and not seeing this earlier. I hadn't known that the 5 score limitation was only for the public sharing of scores. But, the change I was expecting before was as the topic suggested. The fact that I didn't even know until recently when I uploaded a fifth score. That's all. Thanks.

I go into a bar and it offers me free drinks and the bartender asks if I'd like my photograph on the wall behind the bar. When I visit the bar for the sixth time and give them another photo to put on the wall and then - on the seventh visit - find that they only show five of them I should be outraged, despite the free drinks? I feel astonishingly privileged to be allowed to use MuseScore for free. If I had more than five original scores that were any good and that I wanted to publicise then I wouldn't mind paying to have them all shown. As it is, I'm simply not that creative compared to the talent that does post scores.

They should probably make it so that once your not pro anymore, you and others can still see your uploads, but you can't upload anymore until you upgrade back to pro

In reply to by Thomas

Hi Thomas,
That feature actually caused me trouble. I didn't know about the 5 upload limit and save my scores from the Musescore desktop app online. Today I discovered that my other scores are locked and I must pay to be able to see my own files. I am fine with a limit, but files I create and push up to my account, to be fair, should at least be viewable to the creator. I would recommend the team to reconsider, because if lost the original mscz files on my computer, I can't access them online as they were hidden. What Musescore should do, in my opinion, is either block the 6th upload from happening from the desktop app, OR only limit scores in my account from being Public. Then once I pay, I can then publicize it again. But right now, I have several hidden scores in my account that are only stored online, and I can't even access them. This is not right.

In reply to by Michael Lining

If you just want to use "the cloud" to store your scores, go to drobox, box,com, OneDrive, Google drive, etc. is not (just) a cloud storage offering (and not free for more than 5 scores, as clearly stated on thew website)

OTOH a warning message on upload of 5th or later score on a non-pro account should better produce some kind of dialog informing the user about having reached (or exceeded) the limit, instead, or in Addition to, just telling that the upload was siccessfull. Not sure whether this is possible though

In reply to by Michael Lining

Hi Michael,

Thank you for sharing your feedback.

In January this year with the big site upgrade, we have put a mail notification system in place which fires an email with every upload. In that email, free MuseScore users are very clearly informed about the limitation and what is happening with their previously uploaded scores. I checked your account in particular via > Email notifications, and apparently the 'Your uploaded scores' notification is not set on for you. Was it in, than you would have received those emails. I have to verify what we did when we put the site upgrade in place, whether we put those notifications on by default or not. What I do know is that for new users, all mail notification checks are on. Allow me to verify and come back to you on this. In any case, I believe we have all the right communication in place now, both via email as well as via where we give feedback on the free score slots left.

As for your request to change the current implementation and allow access to all your uploads, I'm afraid this won't happen. There is always this trade-off between making features free so one get can experience what the entire service is about, and the ability to monetise the services in a such a way that we can continue with what we do. I sincerely believe that MuseScore as a whole gives already tremendous value for everyone to enjoy for free, and I hope to keep it this way, but it can only work if there are enough MuseScore users paying for Pro memberships.

When MuseScore users like yourself take time and effort to share their feedback through the forums or other channels, I find this always a testimonial that users care a lot about MuseScore. And this always makes my day. So thank you for that!

I'm not using services. That said, I have a theoretical question.

Is the free service organized as a LIFO stack? I mean, one can access the last five uploads, that's clear. As soon as the sixth score is uploaded, is the "disappearing" one the one at the bottom of the stack? If one deletes one of the five visible scores, does the first (previously invisible) one pop up again or has it been lost forever when the sixth has been uploaded?

Just curious, I like being aware of things.

Sorry about bumping this really old thread, but I just discovered that there's a limit for upload and was really suprised.

I'm happy to support the development (I've already bought the iOS app, and would still have bought it if it were a bit more expensive). What I don't understand is that, if you are trying to build a community, why would you actively cripple and discourage your content creators so much? For free accounts, I think it would totally make sense to (maybe) limit their consumption of scores (e.g. maybe some daily limit on how many scores one can view), limit how many private scores they can upload (since private scores aren't really contributing to the community), limit what advanced features they can use (e.g. Youtube upload, widgets, etc.), show them ads, etc.

When I first joined, I thought I found a great community where I can find community-contributed scores of all kinds of music I like. However with the current upload limitations, I don't think that will be happening.

In reply to by tomtung

Hi tomtung, thank you from raising your voice. I dare to say that you found a great community because of the upload limitations. It has allowed us, the founding team of MuseScore, to run a business model which could sustain us working on MuseScore full time and keeping a focus on all things sheet music creators need. This starts obviously with the notation software which is completely free and open source. But it also extends in the online platform, the ability to share your work with yourself across devices or with others in various possible ways (secret link for private scores, embedding in third party sites, group sharing, etc.) There are still so many things to do and to improve on, and MuseScore Pro is enabling us to do so. I hope this sheds a light on things.

In reply to by Thomas

I for one am really grateful for MuseScore's features, and I am more than happy to pay the Pro subscription.

"... secret link for private scores, embedding in third party sites..."
I use these aspects on a third-party website which brings to life the music of an obscure composer. Without MuseScore most of his works would remain unknown, but now anyone can sample them from a playlist:

MuseScore is very liberating!

In reply to by tomtung

Bump. Yeah agreed tomtung. I know a lot of apologists on here will back MS to the hilt, but it absolutely didn't mention the 5 score limit when I signed up and uploaded through the software. I only found out when a colleague of mine was trying to learn the music, and the score is now hidden from me and him. (yes I know I can remove the other scores) .

Yes I have now seen that at the bottom of the upload confirmation email it mentions it. Who would seriously read an email that confirms that they have uploaded something?

Nobody is saying Musescore shouldnt monetize, but bait and switch isnt the way to do it. As you say, there are loads of ways to monetize (eg dropbox has 2GB limit etc)

In reply to by bossagypsy

Hi bossagypsy,

Thank you for sharing your feedback. This topic dates back to 2016, when there was very little communication at all about the limitations of the free online offer. Since then we improved drastically.

But indeed, we need to do even more, especially for those uploading directly via the software and have opted out from the emails, or not reading them.

In reply to by bossagypsy

One thing I'd like to mention is that when the site uploads a score, it not only uploads the mscz file, but it also goes through the time and extra storage to render and index images of each page (as it appears in the software), store those and also rendering the audio as well. So larger scores, while the mscz files can be significantly less than 1 MB, but it will also take up all that extra storage to store all the pages and the audio for the entire piece.

While the 5 score limit doesn't apply nowadays, I bet that's the reason why they made a limit.

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