Thoughts about the acquisition of Hal Leonard Publishing company by Muse Group

Hello dear team and colleagues here,

To me the acquisition of Hal Leonard, by the Muse Group is a pretty major sign about the further sign of the company behind MuseScore.
It means, they are not having just the plan to become a major game player in this area, but also to lead this market space of notation software in a few years.
Now Muse Group has the potential to make MuseScore a real thing.

More than 2 years ago I’ve shared some ideas about Dorico and Steinberg in general in the following post:

Well, back then no one took me seriously, but the acquisition of such a serious publishing company changed the situation. :slight_smile:
I’m not insisting on the propositions of mine, but still I think Steinberg should not leave it without any action. :slight_smile:

Best wishes,

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Hello @Thurisaz - if you’re interested, there was an interview with their Managing Director posted on the main FB page… it eventually links to this article…
Steinberg MD Clyde Sendke on adapting to change and staying innovative: “We are in a competitive market” | Headliner Magazine

He says, without going into detail, they have some ‘new objectives planned’ working with Yamaha…

Also, I started a thread already a couple of weeks ago about this matter, in the forum Lounge…
Hal Leonard acquired by Muse Group - Steinberg Lounge - Steinberg Forums

You could join in there too if you want. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Hello, @Puma0382,
I’ve read the interview. Pretty interesting article. I really do hope that at the Steiny/Yamaha kitchen, the chefs are cooking something awesome for this dynamic market! :slight_smile:

I haven’t noticed your post at the Steinberg Lounge, sorry for that!
Topics like this one should be discussed here, in the main section, because they are as important as any other feature request, or bug report post :slight_smile:

As we remember @dan_kreider , did his best to create the platform - Scorico.Net
unfortunately he wasn’t able to continue supporting it, and actually a commercial platform similar to Scorico, that is able to arrange the copyrights and the payments, should have been created and supported by Steinberg. Of course Steinberg should take a comission form every contract on the platform.
Scorico was an amazing idea, but it’s not possible for a single person to handle it.
It needs a company that has everything needed in order everything to be legal in the interest of every user, and the owner.
If I was the one to make the decisions in Steinberg/Yamaha, I would contact Dan in order to discuss the acquisition of Scorico. Since the platform is already carefully created and designed, it doesn’t need too much additional work in order to become a fully functional service. :slight_smile:
Even the name is perfectly chosen and recognizable.

Another good example is the MakeMusic Cloud. Finale became more than 50% cheaper, but the company compensate it from the cloud service.
But still Muse Group made the most serious steps by acquiring Staffpad and Hal Leonard.

Dorico for iPad is great, but it will become a really serious tool once it has hand writing recognition and audio playback, just as Staffpad has.

Best wishes,
Thurisaz :slight_smile:


Have you used Staffpad? The thing that stops me using it a lot more is that it has no way to enter notes other than handwriting recognition (which is slow, and unreliable and non-deterministic), and now by it listening to something being played e.g. on a piano.

I’m not convinced that handwriting note entry is the best way to get notes into a touch interface. Not the way staffpad does it at least, where there’s no way to disambiguate / tell the software what you meant when it keeps getting it badly wrong. I forget what they were but there were some notational things I use a lot that I just couldn’t get recognised by staffpad. It was very frustrating, and eventually a show-stopper. Since you can run it on a PC, I’m waiting for them to add QUERTY input.

Hi @adrien,
I’m not telling that Staffpad is the perfect tool. I don’t have much of experience with it, but I have more with NotateMe.
Personally I work on PC workstation and laptop.
The mobile apps should offer more than one entry / editing way, this is for sure.
The technologies evolving every minute, so, a better hand writing recognition will come, it’s a matter of time.
Still the good software provides multiple ways for a single task to be accomplished. :slight_smile:

Best wishes,

He comes across as both an intelligent (on top of his brief) but also humble/consultative leader.
If so that would be great news for Steinberg/Yamaha employees - and also for customers.

If you were Steinberg - if you had superior software technology in both DAW (Nuendo) and notation - what would you do to protect your place in the market? Surely ensure that your various technologies come together - providing combinations of capabilities in a single app which others cannot deliver. (This can be done while still selling subsets of one’s technology to people who use other company’s products). You provide what those who don’t have all the pieces cannot do - software that does it all. And you ensure that that all in one technology is available on both tablet and desktop.

And another thing Steinberg/Yamaha can do that others cannot do - since Steinberg is linked to Yamaha I would have thought that the opportunity exists to use a combination of MIDI 2.0 and say OSC? to ensure that Yamaha keyboards interrelate beautifully with Cubase and Nuendo. I would buy a Yamaha MIDI 2.0 MIDI controller which had a great keybed and which knew its exact place in an ecosystem of products - in a heartbeat (with the necessary funds! Ha Ha!). Korg went close with their Keystage products (the only mistake as I read comments seems to be that the encoders have to be positioned to match the current computer value instead of turning limitlessly in either direction - they also didn’t provide an 88 note version).

Presonus - whose DAW is superior to - or equal with - Cubase - (but doesn’t have the feature set of Nuendo) and whose notation products are not superior - are unifying their technology - I notice that customers annoyed by the problems in the total rewrite that is Notion Mobile are starting to express gratitude for the way in which the rebuilt app - connected deeply to Studio One - is moving forward. I expect that the rewriting of the notation code means that the expert programmers who have delivered superb upgrades to Studio One are also now potentially able to contribute to the advancement of the notation side of the app.

One last thing - I believe that the Dorico team has proved that even if Dorico was combined into a DAW that there are many playback technologies which that app would ideally have to help the note by note composer get useful playback demos of their work - especially during the composition process. I dont’ think there is ANYTHING AT ALL to regret about the way in which the Dorico team developed Dorico outside of a DAW - I have only been seeking to raise issues to do with how Steinberg’s future might unfold both to protect and prosper itself - and also help customers.


Hi @substanceoverstyle,

All the things you have mentioned are nice. Many of them are, probably, on their way.
At some point Dorico and Cubase will get much closer to each other.
Communication between Studio One ↔ Notion is good, but I believe a far better solution could be made in Cubase ↔ Dorico.

Actually a user at the Cubase section proposed Cubase and Nuendo to merge into a single DAW that will unlock it’s possibilities according to the license that the owner has. This is a very reasonable request. There will be a team that would be able to work behind the scene on a completely new Cubase that has no code leftovers and dependencies from the past. When the new DAW comes out, both teams will merge into one that will make this app far more stable and superior.

Still just making of a good ecosystem isn’t enough nowadays for a company to be a market leader. It’s needs to provide various ways for interactive collaboration and platform for sharing, and eventually, selling user’s products (score sheets, and audio).
VST Connect / Performer is there, but still impossible to be used in Dorico. VST Connect will make the online collaboration possible in Dorico, which means, the scoring software will become even more attractive, and useful for online teaching sessions.

The market space is kind of a “battle field”, which means the company managers should keep 4 important books on their desks, to learn from, every single day:

  1. “The Art Of War”, by Sun Tzu
  • Awesome translation by Thomas Cleary
  1. “Thirty-Six Strategems”:
    Thirty-Six Stratagems - Wikipedia

  2. “Go Rin no Sho / The Book of Five Rings”, by Miyamoto Musashi :
    The Book of Five Rings - Wikipedia

  3. “Il Pricipe / The Prince”, by Niccolo Machiavelli :
    The Prince - Wikipedia

If one knows how to transform the knowledge in all those book for the needs of the marketing… she / he will be a very successful.

Best wishes,

There are interesting thoughts on this thread. I would suggest we consider the possibility that the entire premise is backwards. The premise is that the Hal*Leonard acquisition is a sign of strength.

Maybe. Or maybe it is a realization that the publishing business as understood for centuries is no longer a viable way to monetize music publication. I look at this as a parallel to what happened with record labels. It was only 30 years ago that musicians dreamed of “signing with a big label”. Today’s reality is that if you aren’t one of the chosen few the labels pick to manufacture an essentially no-talent act, there just isn’t a lot of benefit in being with any of the big labels. They suck the life out of everything they touch and simply don’t add value commensurate to the cut they still want to take. Other than the top tier of manufactured acts, most musicians are either self-producing.promoting or else working with smaller promotion companies that take a smaller cut.

I’d suggest that is where sheet music publication is headed as well. Does it really make any sense for a publisher to take 80% in today’s world? What music publisher really earns that kind of cut?

And really, isn’t that why Hal*Leonard was available, and likewise, why Muse had to work with a vulture capital firm to pull it off?

I am not convinced that the future of music publishing lies with a few mega-sized companies that pay their authors peanuts. Perhaps the future will belong to companies that can offer an online system with low friction for the customer and low fees to the property owner.

And let’s get real. Muse is great software for being free. But > 99% of what is done is Muse is not of commercial publication quality.


Some good thoughts and parallels @cparmerlee with the ‘major Record Labels’ situation from years back… I remember it well.

I want to agree, and think this was partly @Thurisaz point too, about the value of what @dan_kreider was building in his endeavour…

The idea that The Art of War and Il Principe are manuals for modern business is an absurdity from the pretentions of the 80s.

Traditionally, the seller gets around 35% of the retail price. (In book publishing, it’s 50%). In the past, that was your local music shop; but now publishers are selling direct, and being their own shop. That ought to see reductions in prices, at least.

For physical products, the publisher bears the risk of printing, warehousing and shipping copies which may not sell. Plus marketing, and all the costs of running a business.

But you are right that technology has ‘democratized’ publishing. Publishers no longer have a monopoly on delivering product. They lend authority to a project, and can invest the large sums needed to get things off the ground; but anyone can publish their own new material, either printing on demand or making available for download.

I don’t understand MuseScore’s business (but then I’m not privy to their board meetings, and don’t claim any great commercial wisdom). No one is going to make a career from royalties of scores on MuseScore dot com; but MuseScore makes enough (seemingly) to give away a free product, and buy other companies. That seems lop-sided, at least; if not exploitative. At the same time, anyone can use their free product to flood the same market with free content.

I speak as someone who has tried to make a career as a music publisher. You have to have massive volume to make it viable.


I’ve thought along similar lines too - if only VST Connect could be brought to Dorico (providing education sector needs/opportunities, etc… especially if the student could partake in lessons with no more than Dorico SE installed - teacher requiring Dorico Pro).

I don’t believe, for whatever reason, there are any plans to pursue any of this however.

(And besides, the development team behind VST Connect are currently heavily invested/devoted into their recent other product, VST Live - which as far as I can tell is going great guns, even as another quite niche product).

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The acquisition of Hal Leonard by a venture capital means that they need the rights from a huge mass of music to make their AI legit. I heavily doubt there was any other particular interest in a very traditional publishing house like HL.

Yamaha/Steinberg are in another championship, and are able to earn money from professionals or advanced amateurs. I personally hope they will continue to offer tools for that kind of musician, rather than the world of people looking for free arrangements and tools to automatically create new tunes.



Really good point Paolo. I’d heard a similar argument about Elon Musk buying Twitter so he could use it to train his X-AI.

I don’t know, but the new Twitter logo is so intimidating, that I wouldn’t expect nothing but the worse.



Hal Leonard strikes me more as a music distributor than as a publisher. Certainly it still does some publishing, but much more on its site seems to be a way to distribute others’ publications, including its “ArrangeMe” arm, which may be an aspect of the company of particular interest to Muse.


The obvious parallel here is with Finale and Alfred. Peaksware acquired MakeMusic in 2014, purchased Weezic in 2015, and then purchased Alfred in 2016. It transitioned Weezic into SmartMusic, which has now been rebranded MakeMusic Cloud, and this seems to be their main focus of development.

I suspect that the COVID lockdown was a bit of a turning point in music education, and I think SmartMusic was a popular and widely used (hence profitable) tool. Look at the MM Cloud press release I linked to above and you’ll see that MM is connecting the various elements of practicing, composing, and access to their music catalog.

Until very recently, Finale development had pretty much been stagnant for a decade or so. That honestly was one of the main factors in my own decision to switch to Dorico. If you look at the Finale pricing structure, anyone with an academic or theological ID can currently get it for $99, and last month they had a sale where anyone could get the full version for only $89 for their 35th anniversary sale, or $65 for an academic license. For a program that used to cost $600, a markdown of 85% off to $89 is pretty amazing. I think it’s quite likely the next step may be go to 100% off to match MuseScore, with MM simply rolling Finale in with all the MM Cloud features.

I’m obviously not privy to any market research on notation software like Steinberg is, but the number of users of paid notation software just can’t be very high when compared to the number of elementary school kids that start band/orchestra/piano every year. With MM Cloud, MM has a built-in renewing market that will continue to purchase their products. On the MM site main page, MM Cloud is the entire focus with sub-brands like Finale and Garritan barely even visible.

As Alfred and Hal Leonard are two publishing giants that are in direct competition with one another, especially in the educational market, I imagine Muse Group has similar plans for MuseScore and Hal Leonard integration.


Believe me, I’m one of those authors. :disappointed: (If your need is in a monkey, tell him, Sir! —Moroccan proverb)

Muse Group started off as Ultimate Guitar, which was aimed at people learning the guitar and sharing tabs. This seems to fit very naturally and organically with MuseScore.Com - where amateur musicians (in a good sense of the word) can now share not just guitar tabs but entire scores (via upload and download). That was a massive expansion of the audience that shares certain values and overall profile with amateur guitarists.

They can create these scores using MuseScore 4 on desktops or StaffPad on tablets. They can produce the mockups (with or without the scores) using Audacity and publish them on Audio.Com. All these various components are slowly being unified in MuseHub.

Hal Leonard’s catalog is heavily skewed towards education and amateur musicianship. It also includes a massive amount of licensed arrangements (from The Beatles to Taylor Swift, with Disney and John Williams in between, according to the press release). Muse Group says it intends making this catalog available to its consumers on all Muse platforms. This will provide an infusion of very high value and desirable content to its platforms and potentially draw even more people in.

Interestingly, the purchase of HL was financed as credit rather than private equity IIRC.

In my opinion, everything they have done so far is extremely consistent and makes perfect sense, especially if we consider that they seems to have the retained the focus on the profile of consumers that made Ultimate Guitar such a huge success.


One would think so. With services like Shopify, it should be very possible for smaller publishers to compete on a more-or-less level playing field, and to do so with much lower commissions. A certain critical mass of catalog size might be necessary in order to have any kind of marketing reach (aka search engine optimization). But as a customer, I see little value in a catalog of 50,000 (or 500,000) titles. In my musical world, most of the pieces I buy come from more specialized publishers that may have a catalog of 300 - 1000 titles. And some of the authors sell the same titles through multiple publishers.


Even now, the new development in Finale as far as improving on the experience for composers/arrangers/copyists is minimal. Most of the development, it seems, is in the direction of the school platform, so to speak.

There is nothing wrong with that. I vividly recall the original announcement of Peaksware acquiring the bankrupt shell of MakeMusic. At the time, I thought it peculiar that the CEO described his interest and strategy for the product in terms that sounded much more like the coach of a high school wrestling team than anything related to music. He seemed to have very little interest in the art of music creation, and was heavily invested in the idea of coaching and lots of repetition, like lifting weights. And in a sense, he was right about that when addressing the needs of a school music program where one band/orchestra/choral teacher might be responsible for coaching 150 students (or more). That is really where they have put their focus. It is not clear to me that there is much synergy from the Alfred catalog (and others)

Last evening, I had a conversation with a fellow who teaches private lessons in one of the more affluent school systems near me. I know other teachers who use the Smartmusic infrastructure heavily. I played in a pit orchestra a few years ago where one of the percussionists was on his cell phone during the long breaks, literally grading student exercises that he listened to over his phone. In my conversation last evening, I was curious how that might be evolving. The response was that the band teacher is using the SmartMusic system, but my friend has no involvement in that. All of his lessons are face-to-face in the traditional private lesson mode and nobody sees any reason to change that.

It seems to me that all these music markets are fragmented, and the various mergers (Fender with Presonus, Muse with Hal*Leonard, Mackie with Rode, Izotope with Native Instruments, etc.) are not strategic, but are born mainly of fear of becoming the “left out” company. I look at Samsung, which owns Harman, which in turns has rolled up Soundcraft, JBL, Crown, AKG, and 2 dozen other once proud brands. In the great majority of cases, these mergers are where famous brands go to die.