I am looking for a route to get a license to resell digital music compositions. But in a format where I can parse the details, such as MusicXML, LilyPond or anything else. Not PDF!

Is there a name or term for such a license?

Any enlightenment much appreciated!

  • Can you clarify - are you wanting to find a source for compositions, or a licence to resell them? Or are you looking for terminology?
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Jan 14, 2014 at 8:38
  • Both really, I am finding it difficult to learn and find answers. Emails to publishers looking for options did not help.
    – Vigrond
    Jan 15, 2014 at 3:02
  • 1
    Basically I am looking for the process that online retailers like OnlineSheetMusic.com took to be able to supply lots of music, licensed, and many in a parseable format (open with their own inhouse program, midi playback, transposition ability, etc)
    – Vigrond
    Jan 15, 2014 at 3:14

1 Answer 1


To sell reproductions of a copyrighted composition, you must have a mechanical license. Normally this is secured from a rights agency (e.g. RightsFlow, Harry Fox) or directly from the composer. For sheet music, the standard mechanical licenses offered by the agencies may not cover sheet music publishing, so you may often end up going to the composer (or other rights holder) directly.

If what you are publishing is public domain or otherwise unencumbered by rights, then you can publish and sell it without a license.

  • Do you know if they 'give' you the music with the mechanical license? IE supply you with the actual digital files?
    – Vigrond
    Jan 15, 2014 at 3:03
  • @Vigrond - as far as I know, no, because they wouldn't be able to do so for a variety of legal reasons. A license just grants you the ability to do something. You would actually have to solicit all of your own inventory. Unless you can offer a lot of publicity, most small, independent composers prefer to self-publish because it allows them to keep the most profit. If they went through you, you would take a portion of their profit, so for them, it doesn't really add up unless you have a lot to offer. Jan 15, 2014 at 3:37
  • @jjmusicnotes Thanks for the fast response. In my head I am leaning more to something like OnlineSheetMusic.com, where they have masses of available sheet music. Might you have an idea of their process for reselling parsable sheet music?
    – Vigrond
    Jan 15, 2014 at 4:02
  • @Vigrond - I don't. I'd recommend contacting them yourself and seeing what answers you may be able to parse from them. Jan 15, 2014 at 5:45
  • We're veering off topic here into business-land instead of music-land. But if you want your business to be successful, you'll need to think like a composer a bit. What does the composer want? For their music to be discovered and performed by musicians, for audiences who will hear and enjoy it. If you can figure out how to offer them that, you should have no problem getting manuscripts to convert and sell. Jan 15, 2014 at 15:20

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