Breaking the long established order is not only happening within the bounds of legal research. Through the Internet, the music publishing industry is once again feeling the pressure provided by entrepreneurs who are changing the way we view and obtain information. The International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP) created by Edward Guo, a composer and lawyer, is providing competition by using the Internet to host and distribute musical scores for the public and is currently celebrating its Five Year Anniversary.
Highlighted by The New York Times in a recent article, the site is open source, reminiscent of Wikipedia in both look and feel. Users can upload the scores onto the site and edit them for mistakes and missing pages. According to Mr. Guo quality and content management are “completely crowd sourced.” Printing is available for a fraction of the cost traditional publishers ask. The vision is similar to Fastcase’s efforts to democratize the law by allowing sheet music to reach as many musicians as possible at a reasonable price. According to the article the site “claims to have 85,000 scores, or parts for nearly 35,000 works, with several thousand being added every month.”
While publishers claim that they offer products that generate value (and copyright protection) by adding information obtained by the latest scholarship, many feel that they are taking advantage of the fact that many of these composers have long been deceased. According to one blogger that was interviewed Gregory Beaver, who is also the cellist of the Chiara String Quartet, the site “has the potential to democratize printed classical music much as open source has democratized the programming world.”
Go ahead and visit the site- http://imslp.org/ browse the works or listen to the recordings. We guarantee that you will start wishing you had paid attention when your parents tried pushing you to practice the piano. We cannot wait to see what the IMSLP will offer for its Ten Year Anniversary.