Requirement of a PRO account to download music

• Jul 19, 2019 - 04:15

It seems that the team at MuseScore has made it a requirement to own a $60 dollar a year subscription to be able to download music made by others for free publication.

Personally, I think this is unacceptable, requiring people to pay money to MuseScore to use other creators' work, with the original composers and/or arrangers not seeing a penny of it. It is understandable to require a pro account for additional file storage, playback modifications etc, however, to drastically limit your options for wanting to compose music and adapt/modify what people have already made is too far.

What are others' opinions on this move? Please let me know.


In reply to by Shoichi

Whilst I understand the legal issues involved with music licensing, specifically with the score behind them, it seems like a more profit-focused opportunity disguised as trying to reduce numbers.

There was no seeming need before to have to pay to download a score, and I'd like to know if Pro subscription fees are being used to pay for licensing costs which does NOT seem to be the case.

Thanks for the links though for providing more of an insight.

As is made clear from the article at the link, the whole point is that the composers will get the money. At least, the composers whose work was being arranged and posted.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

However, why is there all of a sudden a requirement to have an expensive subscription to be able to download scores at all?

Seeing as a considerable amount of users on this platform are students and minors, it is often unaffordable, and with MuseScore being used in the majority of schools in the UK (and likely USA), it does limit both schoolwork & the opportunity for students, pupils & young people to be able to pull apart & analyse scores along with making modifications.

In reply to by tony9zx7r

I assume you mean, you have downloaded a score, but now you want to open it, and you dn't have MuseScore installed on your computer. So you need to install it. There's a big download button on that site ( as well as on this. You need to install MuseScore.

If you need further assistance with installing MuseScore, please start a new thread, rather than responding here. That is, click the Support button above, then Forum, then Support and bug reports.

In reply to by PhilTheSkid

If you read the article shoichi pointed to on the .com site, you will see that part of the motivation for selling MuseScore to Ultimate Guitar was to keep the .com side a) existing and b) free as it was when it was sold. UG has experience negotiating with publishers to allow for this type of operation. The problem is that is in danger of being shutdown completely, which none of us want. As a stopgap, UG has limited downloads until a system can be set up to assure copyright holders are paid what they are owed.

MuseScore sites have been a self moderated for over a decade now. Unfortunately they have done a very poor job protecting the rights of the music industry. The industry is now fighting back and UG is protecting MuseScore the way it must at the moment. UG's goal is to return basically to it previous ways as much as possible. It's biggest challenge is that there have been nearly 6 million scores posted on and it will not be an easy task to determine which ones can remain and which ones cannot.

For the schools using MuseScore, there are plenty of free options for sharing scores among the students, like dropbox, Google drive and so forth. People, especially the kids, are quite innovative when it comes to overcoming obstacles such as this.

I'm in no way a UG employee, so I'm not talking on behalf of them. I do appreciate what they do to allow us to continue to have the great program and I look forward to them overcoming this latest challenge. 🤞

In reply to by mike320

The problem is that their explanation doesn't make any sense. Making people pay doesn't actually fix the issue of the content being acquired illegally, and actually puts the site more at risk. The DMCA provision exists explicitly for this situation. All you have to do is disable downloading of any music that receives a DMCA request, and you are legally in the clear. But if you start selling the content, then you are outside the safe harbor protection.

The explanation when you click on why this became a pro feature says absolutely nothing about any attempts to fix the situation. And there definitely has been no attempt to set up any sort of payment system, or those who have uploaded content would know about it. I find that suspicious.

It's not even marked as a Pro feature in any way, unless you actually click on it. Uploaders were not notified that their content, which they released for free, requires payment to someone who isn't them. (Hence why I'm only finding out about this now, as this is the first time I've tried to download a score since July.) I can't see anyone who really wants to have their music for pay putting up the entire sheet music visible for free, with the ability to automatically play it.

And, well, there's also the issue of MuseScore 3 changing to using a proprietary, $50 book as a standard, rather than either an open standard or crowdsourcing to the users. Developers need to pony up to contribute, lest they be told that what they want violates said book. That hampers contributions.

All in all, I am becoming wary of MuseScore and its commitment to FOSS. Being free is the important part, not having a huge library and counting on people to pay you for content you don't own.

In reply to by turkeypedal

making people pay for such download doesn't neccessary make it illegal, but collects the money needed to pay the royalties to the original copyright holder. And it makes sure not everyone, including webcrawlers and other bots, can get at them, download and distribute somewhere else.
Anyway, nothing of this has to do with

The MuseScore software and the site is free and will stay so. There is nothing proprietary about it, not sure what you mean by the issue of MuseScore 3 changing to using a proprietary, $50 book as a standard,? Do you mean Marc Sabatella's book "Mastering MuseScore"? That is not (yet) for MuseScore 3 but 2, and doesn't cost 50$ but 40$, as far as I can tell? Or are you talking about our strive to make MuseScore's notation to match Elain Gould's "Behind Bars"? That costs more than 60$, but is by no means mandatory for developers to buy. The only things that developers and other contributors need to pony up is time and dedication.

In reply to by turkeypedal

As noted, anything having to do with MuseScore's attempts to placate the copyright holders who were threatening them with lawsuits and shutdowns belongs on, if you would like to contribute your legal advice over their, I'm sure they'd appreciate it!

As for the "$50 book", I am as puzzled as Jojo. I can only guess you mean "Behind Bars", but this isn't any sort of change. We relied heavily on that amazing resource during the development of MuseScore 2 as well. If you know of an "open standard" that is as comprehensive and authoritative, I'd love to hear about it. But for the record, it's hardly the only resource we look to. We often consult older references as well, but more importantly, we look at real world scores from across the centuries to get a sense of the evolving standards and to find consensus where necessary..

Anyhow, rest assured, MuseScore remains completely free and open source, nothing will ever change that.

In my opinion, I find this unacceptable. I sometimes make arrangements of classical music (like by Chopin or Beethoven) and I am so used to downloading a score off of MuseScore. This was never an issue before.

My sister logged in with a new account I made for her and she can't download pdfs but on my account I can. Both accounts are free, can someone explain why?

In reply to by SomeRamdomGuy

Yes, you can always download from your own account, but from foreign accounts only if you're a Pro member or the score is PD or Original Work (and the person sharing it didn't disable download).
Furthermode you're apparently not sharing any score.

However, this question is at the wrong place here on, as it affects and is about, so should rather get asked there.

In reply to by Ben Tenor horn

I'm gonna be honest. I don't think this is a copyright issue. I think this is a Musescore wants more money disguised as a copyright issue. I can probably guarantee you that Musescore isn't sending Nintendo or Sega a check every months for their video game soundtracks. That all I use musescore for.

In reply to by teebtimboe

To be clear: if your scores are not being taken down, that means MuseScore does indeed have a license agreement with the publisher, and does indeed pay them royalties.

The major publishers who don't have such agreements in place are quite diligent about issuing takedown orders, and MuseScore complies with those. So if you try uploading a piece from such a publisher, it will be taken down in due course. There is no official list of which publishers have agreed and which have not, but there is never any legal risk to you - the worst that happens is, as I said, the score gets taken down.

So yes, this is absolutely about copyright. The copyright owners have the legal right to be paid, MuseScore has the legal obligation to pay them, and this is how the money is generated.

And of course, running the website costs money aside from that, so of course 100% of the proceeds cannot be sent to the publishers; MuseScore needs to retain some of it to sustain their operations. This helps pay the salaries of the full-time developers who keep the software and website going!

"Due to licensing agreements with copyright owners, score downloading feature will no longer be available for basic accounts"

so what about works now in public domain? what about study and educational use?

is anyone here an admin or knows an admin that is aware of the new no downloading thing until pro? I need someone like rn before the pro deal ends

I have used musecore for years and what led to using it was the ease of finding sheet music and pieces, but now I am very disappointed with this unfortunate decision, I feel frustrated and limited, as registration is very expensive for my nationality currency . Recently I was happy because it was possible to make unlimited copies available to know that I planned to make my collection available on the musecore, now because of this decision I might look for another platform. Frustrated.

In reply to by Karster Oliveira

You've arrived at the wrong site for your complaints. is the home of the notation software, which is and always will be entirely free. There is no score downloading nor a subscription service here.

There is over on (yes, it can be confusing if you're not aware of the difference…).

Just note that you can still find all of that sheet music, view it and listen to it for free. Downloading it however indeed requires a subscription, which in turn is partly used to pay the license fees to the copyright holders. It is the only thing preventing from being shut down by those copyright holders.

So if you're looking for a platform that allows you to download copyrighted sheet music for free; then yes, you'll have to look elsewhere. But beware that such a platform is simply "one that hasn't been caught yet", as publishing/distributing copyrighted music without consent of the copyright holder is illegal. isn't the one punching you, but it is the one trying to soften the blow (for example with unlimited uploads)

It is definitely unacceptable. It's all a big money laundering scheme, they're just saying it's because of copyright issues to shield criticism. It was never a problem of any kind before, but companies like this will stop at nothing to rip off their customers. Absolutely disgusting.

In reply to by Uncle Chefington

Hi, Uncle Chefington
Much less unacceptable than those who believe that all the work of others should be available to them free of charge. It is this kind of unscrupulous frenzy of appropriation that has ended up endangering and the whole system of solidarity sharing. So please don't complain about what you have caused by your careless behaviour towards the user community.
But feel free to express your opinion in the right place:

In reply to by Papibois

this is the trend today. non-profits are bought up and ways are devised to get hands into every ones pockets. on the rare occasion I download a score, I am using it for my own educational purposes. I am not selling it or using it for any kind of profit. I am trying to learn something. how this is a copyright infringement is beyond me. it's not like a score can make sounds. most people have no idea what to do with one.

yea, there are so many unscrupulous people out there that were doing just that: get a score for nothing from a site like this and sell it on their site for what ever the market bears. that's why I only posted one score. I know the deal.

this logic of owing a copyright fee because i'm trying to learn a particular genre or instrument voicing is absurd. what's the next step? make people like me pay a licensing fee when in my home on my computer I score out a piece because i'm trying to learn instrument voicing? think about that.

another trend: in my area, the music industry has their attorneys latterly shake down all the club venues that offered live entertainment and as a result many of them no longer offer live entertainment due to the "annual licensing fees" they demand. one place had to cough up nine thousand dollars each year. they are now out of business.

so what's nest? make me pay a licensing fee when I play a song in my head?

have a nice day

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

I buy a lot of books. a lot. i have no problem buying books which I do. a lot of the hal leonard books. but they don't make sounds and I don't learn from my mistakes.. they don't offer different interpretations, arrangements or voicings. I have found that by looking at other musicians ideas it gives me ideas I never would have thought of. creativity I believe it's referred as and this is what all this is about. creativity. oh, you want to be creative? twenty dollars please.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

hey, thanks.

the player was my first thought. I too figured as long as I can see what was being done I can put it into a test score and play with it. it just adds the step of note input.

last night I could not find it. I couldn't even find a link to it.

In reply to by bobrushing

Hi bobrushing,
It is not at all necessary to download scores to be able to work, learn, compare, discover and advance one's own creativity. Repeated listening as you watch the score scroll before your eyes ,as many times as you wish is more than enough. What is the advantage of downloading in these cases?
It is already such a progress that you can see and listen as much as you want to scores that existed before only in printed (silent!) or audio (without music writing) versions.
Musescore has made this possible on a large scale and this work of popularisation is truly remarkable.
Nothing to do with the compulsive appropriation that lies behind the unbridled need to download.

In reply to by Papibois

i agree with you. I download as little as possible and when i did i didn't save the score. i just played it and took notes as to what interested me. then i would print my version and have my notation reading friends play it back and hear how it sounds good and not so good.

the nice thing is that i can score the horns to a drum track and save the drum track as an mp3 and we play along to the drum track.

a few of the guys i play with are attorneys. it seems they all have their own different interpretations on copyright law but they all agree on one thing; most judges are clueless. i hear them complain about this all the time. one guy who spent a lot of time in federal court really gives me an ear full. he's a nut. when i worked in the courts i asked a judge i was assigned to how he sees through all the bs. he chuckled, shook his head and said "the best liar wins".

In reply to by bobrushing

Thank you for your answer.
Do you also know that when you find that the score you are listening to on the site sounds horrible you can enable the synthesizer and choose another instrument. Although sometimes this seems to be reserved for those who have a Pro account, I just checked this on a second basic personal account and found that, more often than not, it works :)
Which means that there are really many ways to enjoy the musescore site for all of us.
Finally I think that those who absolutely want to have the score on their computer for work purposes can, from the site, send a message to the author and ask for a secret link. This is both respectful and simple.

In reply to by bobrushing

Earlier you wrote:
so what's nest? make me pay a licensing fee when I play a song in my head?
then later:
a few of the guys i play with are attorneys. it seems they all have their own different interpretations on copyright law

The copywright status of the song "Happy Birthday to You" is a good case study. More info. here:

Basically, Warner/Chappell Music claimed copyright for every use of Happy Birthday in film, television, radio, and anywhere open to the public, and for any group where a substantial number of those in attendance were not family or friends of the performer.
Personally, I remember going to a Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour (chain store) where they made up their own birthday ditty to be sung by employees for a customer's birthday. (This was done to avoid paying royalties.)
Warner/Chappell continued to insist that one cannot sing the "Happy Birthday to You" lyrics for profit without paying royalties; in 2008, Warner collected about US$5,000 per day (US$2 million per year) in royalties for the song.
Fast forward...
In 2016, Warner/Chappell settled for $14 million, and a federal court declared that "Happy Birthday to You" is in the public domain.
...Hooray..! … :-)

With that happy story in mind, be advised that public domain (PD) scores are available for free download.on
Presently, I'm on a 'ragtime piano' kick where a lot of music is PD.

In reply to by Jm6stringer

I remember that happy birthday mess. my guess is warner/chappell were counting on no one challenging their claim since a counter suit can very easily run into quite a bit of time and money. attorneys in my area won't touch such a case for less than a 30k retention fee. and that's just a retention fee. unless a litigant can find legal council that won't bend them over or a lawyer looking for bragging rights - which btw is not that un common. one of my attorney buddies was one such lawyer until he had to retire due to health reasons. too bad. the man had fire in his veins.

yea. many establishments came up with their own birthday diddy to avoid any legal implications. some are pretty clever. it seems to me that most major players in the music industry are just looking for a steady "revenue stream". the money flows in with little or no intervention. like I stated in my previous post, the local establishments that had live music in my area were threatened with legal action. it put the fear of loosing everything into them. some simply stopped live music and some just paid up.

I don't have an objection to paying royalties. it's just how, exactly are they being calculated and how would they differentiate private and/or original or public domain songs?

In reply to by bobrushing

It's totally correct according to copyright that venues with live music need to pay license fees for the use of the compositions that are performed.

As for how computes royalties, that's a question you could feel free to ask over there on that site, but I don't see that that it really needs to matter as long as the copyrights owners are receiving what they ask for so that there are no more lawsuits. As for how determines the copyright status, as already explained, it's a combination of automatic algorithms that make a guess, the uploader confirming or correcting the guess, and the community at large also providing feedback. For more discussion of the specifics, once again, please go over to that site, it's totally off=topic for this one and in any case, no one who has any good answers will even see your questions here.

In reply to by bobrushing

I don't have an objection to paying royalties. it's just how, exactly are they being calculated and how would they differentiate private and/or original or public domain songs?

Scores are marked "Original" or "PD" on an uploader's page. Questions (and answers) about that are best discussed at .com:
You have to look around and ask over there.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

"So any teaching book needs to be available for free too? Who then is going to pay the author for his/her work?

Your arguments are severly flawed and show that you have no idea what copyright is about."

You do realize that millions of teaching books are available for free worldwide because of schools and public libraries, correct?

Its like a publishing clearinghouse for piano rolls with some profits likely paid out to the biggest publishers. They may just have worked out a formula based on what might be expected from any platform rather than counting downloads and titles. If this were true, Msc. composer content would be playing a role in PAYING the big publishers!

I purchased the manual for musescore and have spent much effort trying to use and support musescore.
I must say that I am really sad about this move on musescore's part to charge for music from the community. It feels like our sharing community has now been destroyed and going downhill. What's next that we won't be able to use unless we can pay for it? It makes one feel that we are just being used.

In reply to by stressfree

Please read the various explanations (above and elsewhere). Copyright owners need to be paid, that's the law. There is no way to do this without charging for download, it's as simple as that. The choice was charge users and pay copyright owners from the proceeds, or be shut down for copyright violation.

In reply to by bahnzo

The term of copyright is longer than that indeed. 1943 is not so long ago, both my parents (who are alive today) were alive then. Current law has it as 70 years after the death of the composer, and Ellington only died in 1974, so it's still protected until 2044 according to my math.

Details of how long copyright lasts have changed over time, and they also have varied from country to country, but basically something needs to be almost 100 or so years old to be definitely out of copyright today in most of the world. Some but not all newer works are also public domain by now in various regions for various reasons. Feel free to do web searches if you are interested in more of the details.

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