Music Notation Software User Reviews

There were over 150 responses to the Music Notation Software Survey, which gathered a ton of data from users of music notation software.  Here are the findings!

Music Notation Software User Reviews

Images too small?  Click here for a PDF of the charts.

Who are the respondents?

  1. I ensured that none of them are a representative, programmer, or other affiliate of a notation software company.
  2. Each respondent has used their software for at least one finished project.
  3. These responses are based on personal experience with the software.  This is not based on hearsay or the opinions of their colleagues; just their own use of the software.
  4. They were drawn from a survey of Twitter, Facebook, and readers of this blog over the course of approximately one month.

They are involved in the professions below:


Which software do people use?

By software, broken down by how they pay (or don’t):


By software, regardless of payment type:


What do users say the strengths of their software are?

Sibelius and Finale:


Musescore, Lilypond, and Dorico:


What do users say the weaknesses of their software are?

Sibelius and Finale:


Musescore, Lilypond, and Dorico:


What are the overall experiences of users?

From a score of 1 to 5:


Would users recommend the software to others?

From a score of 1 to 5:


Is the program buggy?

From a score of 1 to 5; 5 being the least buggy, 1 being the most buggy:


What percentage of users want to leave their current program?


What percentage of users left another program?


How many users left their program?


What programs are users considering moving to?


Results – Summary

It seems that the talk about these programs in universities, online, and by professional musicians is consistent with the data procured.  I hope this proves useful to both those new to the software market and those who are seasoned.  Music notation software has changed so much, for example from paid, single sales to subscriptions, and the emergence of free software, online programs, and many new contenders.  There were also a handful of users of DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) who were using them as music notation software.

Here are some very general takeaways:

  • Finale and Sibelius do continue to be the main players
  • Finale has an attrition problem
  • Sibelius has a fairly good reputation as easy-to-use
  • Dorico is generating a lot of excitement
  • Musescore is increasingly becoming a contender, but is considered a stepping-stone to other programs by many
  • Lilypond has a smaller, but devout following
  • Other notation programs abound, but have much smaller followings

More to come!

This is just the “hard data”–i.e. the numbers.  I have a boatload of qualitative data that I have to dig through–paragraphs of user reviews, experiences, and other notes that the respondents explained in detail.  My hope is to post those responses in future posts.  Please note that I gave respondents the option to not have their text shared, and a small number of respondents did tell me not to share their comments.  Regardless, every comment that I can share here will be posted anonymously, and I will remove any personally identifiable information before posting a review/experience/comment.

Stay tuned, and happy composing,


2 thoughts on “Music Notation Software User Reviews

  1. Pingback: Finale and Sibelius User Reviews – Composer's Toolbox

  2. Pingback: MuseScore, Lilypond, and Dorico User Reviews – Composer's Toolbox

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