Are Music Stands Becoming Obsolete?

By Michael Vincent on September 6, 2022

Are Music Stands Becoming Obsolete?

Anyone familiar with playing a musical instrument will know how important it is to have a music stand to hold your sheet music while you play. So when we noticed a drop in the relative interest in music stands online, we took note.

Music stands have become ubiquitous for musicians for centuries. Originating in Ancient China around 200 BC, they were not commonly used until the 1300s by European musicians from Germany and Switzerland. Since then, music stands have become the single most common piece of music equipment.

But around 2010, something started to impact the use of music stands.

The first iPad…

…was released by Apple in 2010.

It wasn’t long before some musicians realized how useful iPads were for displaying digital sheet music.

They liked them so much, that some started forgoing music stands altogether — turning instead to specialized stands built to hold their tablets rather than music scores.

As a second-order consequence, there has been a steady increase in digital sheet music sales and a gradual decline in paper sheet music sales.

By the numbers

  • $236.7M: Sheet Music Publishers in the US, Market Size in 2022
  • -2.4%: Sheet Music Publishers in the US, Market Size Growth in 2022
  • -1.8%: Sheet Music Publishers in the US, Annualized Market Size Growth 2017–2022

(stats via IBISWorld)

Can classical music escape sheet music?

Hannah over at Bb Flute has some compiled a list of reasons why musicians are choosing digital scores over paper sheet music:

  • Your entire music library is just one swipe away
  • Music on your tablet is searchable
  • Saves storage space
  • Saves paper
  • Easier page turns
  • Can play in the dark
  • Wind isn’t an issue

While the pros are tempting, don’t discount music stands just yet. They are still the industry norm and the most common way to play while reading analogue sheet music.

BTW: If you’re looking for a good stand for your iPad, you’ll want to consider picking up a Bluetooth-enabled hands-free page-turner. Click here for a comparison of the best page-turners on the market.

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