The initial goal for MusicXML was to facilitate Internet music publishing, and some steps have been taken in this direction. To date we have not seen MusicXML put to widespread use as a consumer format for this purpose. New features, including compression and digital rights management, may be needed to make MusicXML as attractive for commercial distribution as it is for interchange. Raw MusicXML files are very large, but simple zip compression can make them even smaller than MIDI files for the corresponding piece. A standard compressed MusicXML format could make people more willing to publish, download, and share public-domain music and their own compositions in MusicXML format.
To some extent, the desire for interchange and rights management are conflicting goals. An interchange format is intended to make files readable everywhere, while rights management is intended to control use. It seems likely that MusicXML will need to be distributed within a container format that can be protected with DRM technology. MPEG-4 and Adobe’s PDF formats are two leading contenders for this container role. For commercial success, we expect that the music industry’s move to less restrictive DRMs for audio files will need to be extended to music notation files.
Our future MusicXML efforts will attempt to address these issues. We have seen ever-increasing progress both in software technology and in the business environment for Internet music. MusicXML 1.1 has shown the power of having a standard interchange format for digital sheet-music. We anticipate even greater benefits when MusicXML can also be used as a distribution format.