From 2019 to 2020, the value of globally exported sheet music declined in value by -11.7%.
The 5 biggest exporters of sheet music by value are the Netherlands, Germany, United States, United Kingdom and France. Combined, that quintet of exported sheet music leaders accounted for 91.9% of global revenues for sheet music sold on international markets during 2020. So high a percentage indicates an intensely concentrated cohort of sheet music exporters.
Among continents, providers in Europe sold the most exported sheet music on international markets during 2020 with shipments valued at $63.9 million or 78.5% of the worldwide total. In second place were North American exporters at 18.2% while 3.1% of international sheet music sales originated from Asia.
Tinier percentages came from Africa (0.2%), Latin America (0.02%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, and Oceania’s Australia and New Zealand (0.005%).
For research purposes, the 4-digit Harmonized Tariff System code prefix for sheet music is 4904. For HTS classification purposes, sheet music includes song books and other manuscripts.
Sheet Music Exports by Country
Below are the 15 countries that exported the highest dollar value worth of sheet music during 2020.
- Netherlands: US$25.1 million (30.8% of total sheet music exports)
- Germany: $22.2 million (27.2%)
- United States: $13.9 million (17%)
- United Kingdom: $12.1 million (14.9%)
- France: $1.6 million (1.9%)
- Japan: $1.2 million (1.4%)
- Switzerland: $963,000 (1.2%)
- Canada: $940,000 (1.2%)
- Austria: $878,000 (1.1%)
- Malaysia: $721,000 (0.9%)
- South Korea: $374,000 (0.5%)
- Poland: $336,000 (0.4%)
- South Africa: $177,000 (0.22%)
- Italy: $147,000 (0.18%)
- Russia: $124,000 (0.15%)
By value, the listed 15 countries shipped 99.1% of globally exported sheet music in 2020.
Among the top exporters, there were 3 growth exporters of sheet music since 2019 namely South Korea (up 120%), Malaysia (up 12.8%) and the Netherlands (up 1.4%).
Those countries that posted declines in their international sales of sheet music were led by: South Africa (down -76.3%), Poland (down -63.9%), Italy (down -58.6%), Austria (down -32.4%) and Japan (down -31.9%).
The following countries posted the highest positive net exports for sheet music during 2020. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports. Thus, the statistics below present the surplus between the value of each country’s exported sheet music and its import purchases for that same commodity.
- Netherlands: US$11 million (net export surplus up 74.4% from 2019)
- Germany: $10.9 million (up 40.6%)
- United Kingdom: $7.3 million (down -15%)
- United States: $7.1 million (down -38.9%)
- Ukraine: $38,000 (up 40.7%)
- Hungary: $36,000 (reversing a -$56,000 deficit)
- Slovakia: $32,000 (up 220%)
- Russia: $31,000 (down -65.2%)
- Lithuania: $17,000 (up 240%)
- Bangladesh: $9,000 (2019 data unavailable)
The Netherlands generated the highest surplus in the international trade of sheet music. In turn, this positive cashflow confirms that country’s strong competitive advantage for this specific product category.
The following countries posted the highest negative net exports for sheet music during 2020. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports. Thus, the statistics below present the deficit between the value of each country’s imported sheet music purchases and its exports for that same commodity.
- France: -US$5.1 million (net export deficit down -5.5% from 2019)
- Canada: -$4.6 million (down -32.7%)
- Austria: -$4.4 million (down -51.9%)
- Hong Kong: -$2.4 million (down -19.9%)
- Australia: -$1.88 million (down -17%)
- Switzerland: -$1.86 million (down -62.4%)
- Spain: -$1.18 million (down -31.4%)
- Singapore: -$1.18 million (down -0.3%)
- Japan: -$854,000 (down -32.2%)
- South Korea: -$829,000 (down -37.5%)
- Poland: -$722,000 (up 142.3%)
- Malaysia: -$657,000 (down -20.7%)
- China: -$637,000 (up 37.9%)
- New Zealand: -$583,000 (up 2.3%)
- Taiwan: -$428,000 (up 3.6%)
France incurred the highest deficit in the international trade of sheet music. In turn, this negative cashflow highlights France’s competitive disadvantage for this specific product category but also signals opportunities for sheet music-supplying countries that help satisfy the powerful demand.
Sheet Music Exporting Companies
According to global trading platform Alibaba, the following are sheet music publishers. The home-country location for each business is shown within parentheses.
- Alfred Music (United States)
- Bärenreiter (Germany)
- Casa Ricordi (Italy)
- Doberman-Yppan (Canada)
- Edition Wilhelm Hansen (Denmark)
- Faber Music (United Kingdom)
- Hal Leonard Corporation (United States)
- International Music Publications (United Kingdom)
- LearnToPlayMusic.com (Australia)
- Polish Music Publishing House (Poland)
Among the companies listed above, Milwaukee-headquartered firm Hal Leonard Corporation is the world’s largest sheet music publisher.
See also Top Piano Exporters by Country, Top Headphones Exporters and Top Video Games Exports by Country
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Field Listing: Exports – Commodities. Accessed on October 1, 2021
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on October 1, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on October 1, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on October 1, 2021
Wikipedia, Sheet music. Accessed on October 1, 2021
Wikipedia, Category:Sheet music publishing companies. Accessed on October 1, 2021