Some libraries won’t offer any sheet music, while others have impressively stocked sections. It’s ultimately a gamble as to which end of the spectrum your library is nearer to.
You might get lucky and encounter some dusty but beautiful old editions, but it goes without saying that you won’t be able to take them home for good.
In truth, the number of libraries providing a reasonable sheet music selection is dwindling as digital resources multiply. It seems the glory days of this pillar of public service might now be behind us.
Moving back into the online sphere, sheet music can also be purchased in non-specialised online stores such as Amazon and AbeBooks. Within these larger arenas, however, sheet music becomes a more niche product, and as such availability is at worst low and at best inconsistent.
The lack of specialisation on these sites means that you can’t always be sure what you’re getting. Frequently there’s poor metadata for the edition, instrumentation and other aspects of a product, making online marketplaces a less reliable way to shop for sheet music. The issue of authenticity also becomes relevant again here.
The fact remains that good deals can often be had, and this is the strength of this source of sheet music. If you know precisely what you’re after, and can locate it with certainty, then this can also be a viable way to get hold of sheet music.
There are many composers out there who are not tied to publishers, but whose sheet music can still be purchased. Nowadays, there are a lot of methods for these independent composers to distribute their sheet music, so there’s no one quickfire route to obtaining it.
Some composers are self-published, meaning that they compose, edit, print, market and sell their own music. If you follow any composers that fall into this category then you’ll have to hunt down their individual publishing labels to purchase their sheet music.
Third party organisations also exist that offer composers alternative routes to making their sheet music available. Despite each being a little different to the other, Escobar•Digital, Sheet Music Plus and Arcomis are all in this category and are worth checking out.
Best place to buy sheet music: the verdict
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Now you know where to find and buy sheet music, you’ll likely want to know exactly how to store sheet music, the right way. Additionally, if you want to touch up on your history knowledge, we’ve produced an article about the origins and history of sheet music.
You are going to want to know how to store sheet music and that is exactly why we created an article on how to store sheet music.