January 28, 2011, 3:10 PM

Musicnotes trumpets 25% digital sheet music growth

The online sheet music retailer expects total 2010 sales of $12.5 million.

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Musicnotes Inc., an online retailer of downloadable sheet music, rode the combination of new content and technology to new sales heights in 2010. While the numbers aren’t complete yet, the company expects to log total sales of about $12.5 million for 2010, a 15.7% increase from $10.8 million in 2009, says Tim Reiland, chairman of Musicnotes Inc., No. 496 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

“Musicnotes added great content in 2010–both new song releases as well as back catalog–and made marked improvements to the customer shopping experience, resulting in a solid increase in our conversion rate,” Reiland says. “We are expecting further conversion gains in 2011 as we introduce significant site enhancements currently in development.” Reiland did not divulge conversion figures but notes that digital sheet music sales were up by 25%.

The company continues to streamline the software it uses to download sheet music to customers. “We made some gains in 2010 and a lot of our focus is to make the site friendlier to customers, especially new customers,” Reiland says.

For 2010, Musicnotes reports:

  • Digital sheet music sales were about $10 million, up by 25% from about $8 million in 2009.
  • Songbook sales and ad revenue on Musicnotes.com contributed about $2 million, flat compared to the prior year.
  • International sales were about $2.8 million or 23% of total sales. Most international sales take place in the U.K, Australia and Canada, but the company also has customers in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, Reiland says. He did not disclose 2009 global sales.
  • Musicnotes added customer number 2 million in spring and ended 2010 with more than 2.3 million total customers.
  • A free sheet music app was introduced for the Apple iPad in May, with an enhanced version offered in October. The Musicnotes app was downloaded more than 50,000 times from the iTunes app store in 2010, the company says.
  • The top seller for 2010, “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen, exceeded 20,000 downloads—a new high for a yearly best-seller.
  • Royalties paid to publishers and songwriters exceeded $4 million for the year.
  • Over 2.2 million sheet music downloads were purchased during the calendar year.

In addition to the renewed popularity of the Cohen song, other sales drivers from the Musicnotes back catalog include songs from the TV program Glee. “‘Don’t Stop Believing,’ by Journey, was brought back by Glee,” Reiland says. “The show has been huge for our business.”

Musicnotes also added songs from the Universal Music Group publishing catalog through a deal signed in 2010. The deal included new and back catalog music from a publisher that Reiland says had been a “bit of a hole in our line-up.”

Reiland expects more of the same success for 2011. “We have been very fortunate and I feel we can keep up our growth for the foreseeable future. 2011 has started a bit stronger than 2010 finished,” he says.

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