The problem with Musescore

• Sep 20, 2020 - 23:32

Musescore is a company that relies entirely on user-submitted content to function. Musescore itself is just the software (Which, by the way, is not as innovative as it would like you to think.) and it makes money while the composers or sheet music translators make none. This would be fine if the prices weren't absolutely ridiculous. In addition, they are nearly impossible to contact, with very few business hours and NO phone number, they respond days after a request or email is sent and it is usually an automated or scripted response. Their customer service is second to none, you can sense the desperation of the company trying to cover its ass whenever someone has a genuine complaint. Another shady scam company disguised as something genuine. To all the creators on this website, my heart goes out to you and your talents completely as you are the only thing keeping this website alive, the only thing making it worthwhile. To musescore and its support team, shame on you. Shame on you for charging me an extra transaction fee that was never shown to me, shame on you for making me believe I could get a full refund for my 50$ ACCIDENTAL purchase, only to find out the actual refund is only $20. Shame on you for making me have to ration out my food because I was too distracted with my family having covid to cancel the subscription on time. Shame on you for taking days to respond to my email and giving me the insulting offer of a 40% refund when I cancelled the subscription and sent an email TWO DAYS after the fee was automatically taken from my credit card. Your company is shady and your business practices are unethical. If you use musescore currently, I implore you to seek another option if you can. I hope that the software for this website is replicated and put online for free. Have a wonderful day.


Fine. Accept that as far as I know, no one here on the .org site has anything to do with the .com site you are having problems with. Sorry you felt the need to gamble $50 if money was so tight. I hope things work out for you.

Please do not confuse the open source desktop notation software (here on .org) with the commercial online score sharing platform (on .com). See also for a small explanation about this confusing difference.

I'm sorry you didn't read fine print when signing up. For however much providing credit card information can be considered something "ACCIDENTAL". I'm sorry that you have difficulties in your personal life, which led to this situation to happen. I'm also sorry that their refund options are quite strict nowadays and that their support is lacking in many areas. None of that however makes it a scam.
Also, when venting emotion try to get all your facts straight: does pay license fees to many copyright holders. This money thing and its distribution is what keeps it legal. It's also why your hopes of a replicated online for free service aren't going to fly; (modern) music isn't free, but bound by laws (copyright/performer).

But here in .org there is nothing to be done about this.
I do hope that venting this here at least made you feel a bit better.

Now on the matter of the software, which is and always will be fully free; you seem to have some gripes with missing features (as it's not as innovative as you thought it would be)? Would you care to elaborate on that point?

A few other clarifications:

Regarding the score sharing website, it is quite simply false to state that composers do not get paid. MuseScore has license agreements with most major publishers and the composers they recommend, which pay them per odnwload, and therefore it is those compositions that you need a paid account order to download. Content that is composed by individual MuseScore users is free to upload, free to download.

A free website that served the same function as would be shut down almost instantly for copyright violation. It almost happened to before they put those license agreements into place. Composers have a right to be be paid. If the site only allowed original material to be posted - no arrangements of other people's copyrighted material - it would be legal of course, but policing that would be virtually impossible, and that is indeed what happened at

Anyhow, not sure how you accidentally entered your credit card number into a form on that website, but if you have a problem with that site, best to ask over there on that site.

This site is for discussing the MuseScore notation software, Which I don't think anyone ever claimed was especially "innovative" - music notation software has been a thing for decades. MuseScore just happens to be the most popular, as it is one of the best, and one of the most free :-).

followup comment!
bobjp- I cannot tell a difference between the websites. As far as I, a normal consumer can tell, the forum posting looks like an extension of the normal website. It isn't exactly the greatest in terms of being clear and concise on how everything is organized, so, as I have not been here for a great while, I wouldn't know.
I didn't want to "Gamble" 50$ either. I needed to download files for a class. Thanks for wishing me well.
jeetee- again, the difference is confusing as you said. I couldn't find forums for that website as I was just redirected to the .org . I read the fine print when signing up and, to my understanding, I would have been able to receive a full refund had I followed a certain criteria (of which I did). I understand that refunding options can be strict but it should be fully clear to the buyer what kind of refund they are able to get when they are getting into the purchase. I shouldn't have to haggle my way to getting a refund if I followed the criteria that was set. I understand completely that musescore pays money to copyright holders, and I may have not made it clear what my frustration was about in my first post. I admit it. I understand that giving money to copyright holders is what makes it legal. I'm talking about the independent composers and arrangers, who I am sure receive no money. It's frustrating to me, personally, just because musescore seems like the "middle-man" to me, more of a vessel where the transactions occur than anything else. All of the creators and composers on this website are absolutely talented and deserve to get a cut of the money if money is to be taken. I get that a website needs money to run. But with their prices I feel the creators themselves should get paid, that's all. I don't have any gripes with missing features at all, I'm saying this software is just old. Not old in a way where it needs to be replaced, but just widespread, well-known, simple. Which is fine, but again, that is what frustrates me about the "middle-man" in all of this. If the software is so simple, and as others put it, "already free", then why not pay the creators instead of pocketing the money?
the other commenters share the same points, so see above if it applies.

But even after all that, the idea of paying creators was not my biggest gripe with musescore, because I know that isn't something that's going to be changed. That's just how the website is going to function, I get it, I don't wanna argue on their behalf or against it on that. My biggest gripe with the website, which everyone happened to gloss over, were the shady business practices. That's what upset me the most, because it sucks to see creators have to use a platform that has these problems. It drives people away from their work, and if they aren't getting paid in money, the least that musescore could do for the creators is build up an OK reputation so that maybe the creators can get some good exposure for their work? The shady shit musescore does just tarnishes the website as a whole for me. The lack of a phone number, the scavenger hunt you have to go on to contact them, the additional digging you have to do to get a refund, the slow responses, the extra fees, the lack of transparency, all adds up more and more. It is difficult to get into contact with musescore in the first place, and refund forms are totally separate from the e-mail function entirely and are handled through an additional form. "Reviewing" the e-mail to see if you're "Eligible" for a refund should be unnecessary for anything other than the proof of purchase and cancellation date. Why should the reason for my refund affect whether or not I can receive it if I had followed the criteria clearly posted that said I would be eligible for one? Pretending like you will give your customers a full refund by saying so on your website, only to offer a 40% refund (20$ if youre wondering) is unbelievably shady. Not only is it fucked up to pretend like a full refund is possible when it isn't for the person getting the refund, but it's also manipulative to the users of the website and is basically just a cover-up to make them look good. Viewers of the website see that a full refund is possible and will trust the company, or get a good impression, while the 40% is hidden behind an e-mail, not seen by the public eye. Auto-renewal is the textbook example of a shady practice. Especially when it comes to a free trial. You, the reader, and I both know this is not for the convenience of the customer, and that many services, musescore included, use this as a tactic for people exactly like me. It's been used time and time again on free trial services, where the auto-renewal for the free trial just so happens to mysteriously be the highest purchase amount possible, in this case, 50$. Auto-renewal is an old, old tactic that has always just been used for people who happen to forget, and it's evident that they rely on that because it isn't just the weekly or monthly payment. Yes, I do understand that the yearly payment is cheaper, but that's not the point of the auto-renewal "shady business practice" (as "scam" is too harsh). It's such a classic case that I'd be surprised if none of you have heard of it at all. The customer forgets the free trial, it's the expensive yearly subscription, they go for a refund and the company basically refuses or gives them a "Special offer!". My final point will be the transaction fee, I'm not going to go over this one as much because I don't think it's as important, but I understand that a transaction fee is needed. So....why not tell the customer when they're getting the free trial that a transaction fee will also be applied if they happen to decide not to cancel? It shows you the total, 49$, so why not the fee? They get away with it because the transaction fee is completely separate from the 49$ in the bank statement, it's an additional fee. Hell, even if I weren't notified of the extra transaction fee and it were in the first fee I wouldn't be talking about it. The fact that it's a totally separate fee makes it seem deliberate to me. It just makes it seem like they're covering their asses yet again rather than just being transparent with their customers. I understand that this may upset some of you, and I apologize for that. You don't need to stick up for a company. Don't let this ruin your day or upset you because I promise it is not about you. It's not something I really want to debate about because my opinion is pretty firm. I'm not going to suddenly change my mind and love musescore because of a comment you post, I promise it will not be productive. I'm posting this because I feel like it needs to be acknowledged somewhere what this company is doing. I know hate comments can be upsetting but you need to understand that this company is far from perfect, and if you really want it to continue being the great service you love, just acknowledge the fact that these practices do occur so that musescore will hopefully become a more transparent and reputable company in the future. It is good to understand that it has problems so that the community can grow rather than be driven away like I have. I wish I could enjoy musescore and its community but until it undergoes some changes I don't think I can.

In reply to by maisahamir

That's OK, you don't need to love MuseScore. We are here to correct factual errors in your post so others aren't misled, but we can't make you appreciate the amazing service provided by the people who write the software and run the website.

For the record, though, independent composers are welcome to negotiate license agreements with the MuseScore company so that their scores also cannot be downloaded for free but require Pro subscriptions and therefore they too can be paid. Most, however, post to because they want to share their music, not charge money for it. if their goal is to charge money, there are indeed better places to post it.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thanks for the reply! I'm sure your wonderful team of negotiators are giving the composers excellent offers just like they did with my refund, but I'm not sure you're understanding my point, Marc. It's not something at a creator's level or something that falls under the responsibility of the creator. If you can remember, my gripe was with the fact that the company is the middle man. There may be a minority of independent composers who do, indeed make money via Pro subscriptions. But musescore itself does as well. And it, in addition, makes money from the majority of creators who give content for free. The money is being made based on others' content. I'm positive a bigger chunk goes to the website than the creator, and, again, my only issue is with the fact that Musescore themselves are not the ones who put work into what they are profiting from. But I digress. It, again, is not as much about this as it is about the shady practices. It just seems suspicious to me how everyone is eager to correct my facutal errors on the creator aspect but goes silent when it comes to the main point of my frustration. I get it, you don't want to mislead others, but isn't blindly defending a service without acknowledging its flaws by literally ignoring them a bit misleading?

In reply to by maisahamir

If a creator wishes to be paid for his content, he has all the power: he can say “pay me X or you don’t get my content”. If the content is measurably worth at least that, they would probably accept, but if not, then just take it to a marketplace site and sell it for X there.

Again, this is simply not the business MuseScore is in. They are trying to provide a place for people to freely share music, and its hard indeed to make money, or indeed to break even, doing that, but it has value to society, so I’m glad it is being done. Meanwhile if you want a place to sell your music, you can create your own web site, or use Amazon, iTunes, etc.

In reply to by [DELETED] 1831606

Right. As I keep saying, it's not a place to sell your own music; it's a place to share your own music for free. It's the people who do not agree to share for free who can potentially be paid, by not sharing their music but instead working out a license agreement so that if others choose to share it, you are compensated. But if you share your own music on the site, you are agreeing to share for free, that is the point.

In reply to by maisahamir

Thanks for the follow-up comment.

FWIW I entirely agree with the consumer experience being a bad one. In the "old days"(tm) the score sharing platform was led by a different team, which had a much more forgiving return policy. While I'm not a very big fan of auto-renewal after trail, I can come to terms with this bait-and-switch (to put it in an extreme term) if the cancellation policy is good.
Meaning, when I joined it was possible to start the free trail and cancel the pending subscription already 1 hour later; whilst still keeping the remainder of the free trail period. On top of that, if you asked for a refund and the record showed you indeed had hardly used that subscription (after all, most accidental complaints happen within a day of the payment triggering) a full refund was issues without further question.

A change in leadership brought this change in policy along; which to me was/is a step in the wrong direction. This return policy might perhaps gain some money in the short run, but there are already a lot of review out there that are giving out lower scores to based on this strict return policy. In my view, letting those that can't afford it now go in a friendly way increases their chance of returning as a paying customer when they do come into the money to do so. If they don't return, then the money "lost" (or rather not "held on to") likely outweighs the paycheck they currently have to pay support staff in trying to resolve those cases when trying to "hold on" to the subscription.

As for the transaction fee; that is something I've not yet heard of before. It might be related to the payment option chosen and thus perhaps indeed not directly linked to the subscription cost itself, but to the payment provider.
In any case, I also agree that such a cost should be listed on a final review page before the purchase is completed; just like shipping costs are on any other webshop.

In reply to by maisahamir

Just cancel the payment to them in your credit card and save yourself all the frustrations with's dubious business practices. Perhaps if others do it that will help them put their act together. They just don't have any customer service at all. BTW, I am a subscriber. Meanwhile I am keeping my subscription.
As to getting payment for contributions, someone should set up a competing site exactly for that purpose. With some competition they might behave better. On my website I have a few of my own mscz drum titles for free.

FWIW - Anyone at all can be paid for their works on because all you need to do is register a copyright and join a collection society like ASCAP or BMI. Since Musescore pays royalties to these agencies, they (the representing society) in turn sends big, fat, walloping checks to the copyright holders. Musescore is not the "middleman." The "middleman" is the society that you join and who represents you. CASE CLOSED.

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