The fat lady is singing her final aria for T.I.S. Music, the beloved online sheet music catalog with a shop in Bloomington, Indiana. Yesterday the company announced in an email to its subscribers that T.I.S. is going out of business. At 4o-plus years old, the company is not exactly a startup, but we felt it important to point out the gaping hole in the market now that they’re gone.
While newspapers and magazines have been hit hard by the advent of the Internet, few printed pages have felt the pinch more than sheet music. Very few brick and mortar stores even carry the stuff, and music department and nonprofit budgets are so tight that most musicians work from photocopies, anyway. When T.I.S. put its catalog online, the world opened up for singers and instrumentalists who now had one place to go for every jazz, Broadway or classical piece they would ever need to see in print. They even had printable PDF files and practice CDs. It was a gold mine for musicians, but apparently not for T.I.S. Said the company in a statement:
We have had a wonderful 40+ years serving you, our valued customers, but current market trends have made it impossible for us to continue. We thank each and every one of you for your patronage through the years and encourage you to support your local music store.
In addition to local music stores, there are a couple of tech savvy companies that are heading in the right direction. MusicNotes has a good selection of licensed, downloadable and printable digital files. MusicReader puts music into an eReader format and has a lot of great features, like an integrated recorder/player, metronome and tuner, and also allows for annotations. But sheet music is a niche market and it will take a while to get everybody on board with reading it on an eReader, especially with the aforementioned budget constraints. Still, the digital format could be helpful for organizing, updating and sharing music with other players, provided that the screens are large enough and the pages turn quickly. Until then, T.I.S. is having a going out of business sale – customers can stock up on what ever is left of their inventory at 25 percent off.