Schott Puts Entire Catalog on Net4Music


German publisher Schott Musik International has signed a deal to put its entire catalog online. The 230-year-old firm has joined hands with the online sheet music retailer Net4Music.

It is not Schott’s first flirtation with new technology. The company produces several innovative products for electronic media, including its MasterPlayAlong series of professional practice CD-ROMs that enable soloists to play, edit, and print music; and CD-PluScore, and audio CD that can be played on any normal CD player and includes CD-ROM material to accompany the score on screen.

However, it is the extensive music catalog for which the company is best known. It includes the works of such contemporary classical composers as Stravinsky, Orff, Rodrigo, Ligeti, Henze, Penderecki, Takemitsu, and others. Schott also has one of the world’s most comprehensive catalogs of instrumental-education materials, choral works, and orchestral scores.

Net4Music C.E.O. Francois Duliège thinks that the Schott licensing agreement is important for two reasons: Schott has one of the largest European classical catalogs; and Schott has a reputation in Europe as a “high-quality” publisher. They fact that one of the oldest publishers has acknowledged what the internet can do, he explained, has made Net4Music “a source of admiration.” Approximately two thousand of Schott’s titles are already available online, and about four thousand will follow.

Net4Music currently sells sheet music and MIDI files for download from their website. When Net4Music formed 18 months ago, they acquired the Lyon-based company Informusique and their website, called Partitor. At that point, Partitor was both a mail order and a download site. Net4Music moved the download component of Partitor over to a new Net4Music site, and kept Partitor up solely for mail orders. The digital site has become the primary focus of the company’s attention, with Partitor in “sleep mode,” according to Duliège.

Neither Net4Music nor Partitor is carrying much in the way of recent American music. A few pieces by John Adams were available for purchase on Partitor, but there was nothing by Crumb, Kernis, or Danielpour. There are some features of the Net4Music site that bode well for the introduction of more adventurous music, however.

For instance, composers can send their own music, in either paper or digital format, to “Net4Publication” for posting on the site. The composer gets to decide where he or she wants the music distributed, and how much he or she wants to charge. After Net4Music takes a cut, the composer receives forty percent of sales. He or she must pay seven dollars to have InterDeposit create a unique “Inter-Deposit Digital Number” (IDDN) for the work that is then registered with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). This number is then “watermarked” into the file, and will appear on all the music that is downloaded. This way, if the music is ever stolen, it can be proven by the absence of this number. Net4Music has also invested in encryption software that prevents users from illegally downloading copyrighted material.

“Net4Publication is good for composers because it gives them easy access to worldwide distribution of their works,” Duliège commented. “It is an easy and cost-effective way to secure their music and get a return for it, to organize their own publishing without the having to go through a publisher.” He pointed out that while the process of securing a copyright in the U.S. generally takes six to eight weeks, with Net4Music, the assigning of the “iddn” number takes only twenty-four hours. At this time, roughly six hundred new pieces have been posted using Net4Publication.

The site also has an educational bent, evident in the musical quizzes and games, the international directory of music teachers, and the large number of student-level titles available for download. The educational focus extends even to the articles that Net4Music solicits for their “Editorial” section. According to Duliège, they don’t want the site “to be just retail,” but rather a forum where musicians can “look at news articles and learn.” They try to get musicians to write articles on topics relevant to them, and help by adding a MIDI component to the article, if possible, and by translating the piece into five languages. In mid-October there was an article on Internet legal issues, and an introduction to modes.

Net4Music’s recent merger with Coda Music Technology will likely have implications for all musicians, composers included. Net4Music recently added a new, stripped-down version of the music notation software Finale to their site, available for free download. This new version, called Notepad, will make basic professional-looking composition possible for anyone with Internet access. Even more innovative is the second wave of Finale implementation. Starting in December, users will be able to purchase a piece of sheet music and use Finale to transpose or rearrange the selection to meet his or her needs. A piano piece could be instantly arranged for flute and violin, for instance, and moved from F-sharp major to D-major, for easier reading.

Another Coda program will debut on the site in January. This will be an online adaptation of “SmartMusic Studio,” a “virtual accompanist.” Users will be able to download the accompaniments to their pieces, and the computer will play along with them. Users will be able to monitor the degree to which the computer responds to their playing by adjusting the level of “sensitivity.”