Before you wait for a physical copy of music to ship, consider if you should buy PDF sheet music. Then, you can start learning new pieces today.
You won’t have to pay for or deal with the delays of shipping. Read on to learn about more advantages of digital copies.
But first, this post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy to learn more.
1. Instant Delivery
One of the best reasons to buy PDF sheet music is that you receive it immediately (or close to it). The exact delivery time can depend on the store or composer and the systems they use.
However, many reputable stores and creators use automatic delivery systems. That means their website will email you the file right after you finish your purchase. You won’t have to wait for someone to send you the PDF.
If you’re in need of music right away, this is great. You can view and previews of the score and listen to audio previews. Then, if you decide you like a piece, you can start sight reading it within minutes.
2. Digital Ready
This may be a pro or con depending on how you read music. But if you’re like me and have started using an iPad to play music, buying PDF sheet music is super convenient.
All you have to do is download your file from your email. Then, you can import it into your sheet music reader app of choice. You don’t have to worry about printing the file or having to scan it to your device.
I’ll be honest, scanning tons of loose pages is annoying. So whenever I can buy a digital download version, I tend to go for it.
3. Save Paper
If you buy PDF sheet music, you never have to touch or print anything. The publisher or composer doesn’t have to worry about printing. You don’t have to print files yourself if you use an iPad for sheet music.
Sure, you may need to print the pages if you don’t use an iPad. However, the printing cost will usually be pretty minimal. And you don’t have to print all of the cover pages or the accompaniment part if you don’t need it.
Either way, paper adds up. If you learn one new piece a month, that’s 12 pieces a year. And if each piece you learn is five pages, you’d save 60 pages of printing per year if you buy PDF sheet music and learn it on your iPad or tablet.
4. Send to Collaborators
PDF files are also great if you have collaborators who will need their own parts. You can send them the pages they need through email. Just make sure you don’t duplicate the parts excessively since that can break copyright laws.
The nice thing about sending parts digitally is that people don’t have to wait for you to meet in person. You can save time driving around town or mailing parts if you’re in a different city.
It’s also useful for music librarians. During grad school, the orchestra librarian was a good friend of mine, and she knew I would just put stuff on my iPad. So instead of printing it (and me having to wait until rehearsal), she emailed me my parts.
5. Support Living Composers
A lot of living composers and arrangers self-publish their music. While some might sell print copies, a lot of people sell digital versions. That way, you can buy PDF sheet music right from the source.
This is also a good reason to pay for sheet music instead of just relying on free resources. I love IMSLP and FluteTunes and all the other free sites. However, it feels good to support my fellow musicians when I can.
When you buy from a self-published composer, they get to keep more of the profits. I’ve heard that traditional publishers can take well over 90% of each sale.
6. Save Money
If you buy PDF sheet music, you can usually save money compared to the cost of a printed copy. That’s because the publisher doesn’t have to pay for paper, ink, and shipping.
Publishers and composers can pass that savings to you. Now, some companies do charge the same amount for the print and digital versions. But you can still save on shipping.
If you have to buy a lot of sheet music, the savings can quickly add up. Sure, you may need to pay for paper and ink. So do the math yourself to see how much you can save over the long term even with the cost of a cartridge of ink and a pack of paper.
7. A Perfect Copy
Even if you decide to print your sheet music, you’ll have a blank copy sitting in your email or on your computer. Sometimes, it’s nice to play from a blank copy that doesn’t have all of your marks on it.
That can be good if you need to re-learn music for a competition and can’t use all of your marks. It’s also helpful if you want a student to read through a piece but not have your markings confuse them.
No matter the reason, a blank copy is always nice to have. If you only ever rely on print sheet music that someone ships to you, you’d need to make a copy before you even touch the music to have that backup.
Where Can You Buy PDF Sheet Music?
You can buy PDF sheet music in a variety of places. The best places to look are the websites of the composers or arrangers you like.
If you like my stuff, I sell music on this website. But I also sell on Sheet Music Plus, Sheet Music Direct, and MusicaNeo.
Can You Preview PDF Sheet Music?
You should be able to preview at least a part of the PDF. Some websites won’t show everything just to keep people from stealing the music.
If you want a bigger preview of any of my titles, let me know. I’ll see what I can do to help you out!
Will You Buy PDF Sheet Music?
If you’re looking to learn new repertoire, you may want to buy PDF sheet music. It’s more convenient and usually cheaper than print copies.
Plus, you can print it or skip that process and use the PDF on your iPad or another tablet.
Are you looking for new flute sheet music? Head to Flute Files to check out the current catalog!