Resurrecting the Guitar Tabs Sites?

Or crippling their business models (e.g., forcing them to start collecting revenue)? Depends on how big a cut the Fox Agency negotiated, and how hard it might be for a new entrant to assemble the critical mass: Hoping to Move Guitar Notations Into the Legal Sunshine

IF budding guitarists fail to master “Stairway to Heaven” in the coming months, they can no longer blame the music publishers.

Because of an agreement in March between MusicNotes, an online music publisher and the Harry Fox Agency, which represents 31,000 music publishers, guitar tablature — a popular system for teaching and learning guitar — will enter the legitimate business realm for the first time.

Last year popular sites like, and others — where users post tablature, usually called “guitar tabs,” for rock songs — suspended operations after the music publishing industry threatened them with copyright infringement lawsuits. Under the new initiative, MxTabs, which is owned by MusicNotes, will share an undisclosed portion of advertising revenue with music publishers, who in turn will give a portion to artists.

[…] For the remaining songs in Famous Music’s catalog — and the vast majority of the music publishing industry’s collective catalog — there is insufficient demand to justify the costs of publishing tablature.

As a result, guitarists who want to know how to play less mainstream songs have gone to sites where amateurs post tablature. Under this agreement, MusicNotes, publishers and artists will essentially earn money from an army of volunteers, who are creating content that the publishers are not creating on their own.

Tim Reiland, chairman and chief financial officer of MusicNotes, which is based in Madison, Wis., said publishers would receive “a very healthy split” of the advertising dollars.

[…] The guitar tablature sites were typically small operations, running on little more than revenue gleaned from Google text ads. Many shut down rather than challenge the publishers in court.