If you’re a bandleader, you know that finding good sheet music for cover bands is quite challenging. You either make it yourself or hire someone else to do it. Sometimes you can find free sheet music online, but it’s usually crap and not the arrangement you want.
We’ve put together some reliable and some obscure places to find quality sheet music for your band.
A word of caution about some distributors. When searching online, you’ll see sheetmusicplus.com, musicnotes.com, and jwpepper.com come up. For bandleaders, they are not worth wasting your time on them unless you’re super desperate. They are OK for finding a lead sheet (piano & vocal sheet music), but if you’re looking for parts for each instrument in your band, they’re not much help.
WARNING: If you’re searching for “horn charts” and you run across this site - Horn Section Arranging - nobilicollinedelmonferrato.it, don’t click it. It’s a phishing site!
For your convenience, we put together some of the best horn charts and band sheet music distributors on this page.
Sheet Music Catalogs
Searching for sheet music online is easy nowadays. Type in the name of the sheet music or composer, and you’re sure to come up with it.
Party Band Sheet Music is the go-to-choice for band leaders who need modern, downloadable sheet music for every jazz and cover band instrument. They have an extensive collection of funk and soul classics arranged for 3-5 horns and rhythm section ready to use.
For older pieces, try Iowa music printer, C.L. Barnhouse. They have musical archives dating back to 1886 when they stated. They offer sheet music for jazz, solo, ensembles as well as marching bands and orchestras.
If you can’t find what you want, sometimes colleges have libraries containing more obscure music. You can search for sheet music at Humboldt State College’s Music Resource Guide here. You can search by composer, a piece of music, or the type of music.
Another university source of downloadable sheet music is Ohio State University. You can search their site by:
- Jazz Lead Sheets and Chord Changes
- Choral and Art Song
- 19th – 20th Century Popular Songs
They offer links to multiple libraries and guides under each category. For example, under Jazz Lead Sheets, they list Free Jazz Chord Charts That You Can Transpose. You’ll find around 1,300 chord charts of jazz standards that you can transpose to any key.
If you need something customized for your band or a particular gig, using a transcription service is the way to go.
Custom Transcription Services
Can’t find the sheet music you want? Use a transcription service to upload any audio, video, or YouTube URL to the music for which you need sheet music. The transcription service will then transform the audio into quality sheet music with high accuracy on the notes.
In addition to quality charts, Party Band Sheet Music offers custom music transcription services. If your client has an off-the-wall-request for a tune and you can’t find the sheet music, they can help. They charge $36 an hour and state that most single-instrument transcriptions for 5 minutes of music take between 45 to 90 minutes. They can make arrangements for cover bands up to 5 horns and rhythm section parts for guitar, bass, keyboards, and drums
To give you a better idea of transcription costs, here are three sample quotes posted on their website:
- Light Years - Jamiroquai: Full rhythm section, and five horns. $275
- Fireball - Pitbull: 3 horns, bass, guitar. $70
- Walking On The Sun - Smash Mouth: Bass Part. $45
Expected turnaround times are 3 to 14 business days depending on the complexity. The sheet music comes as a downloadable PDF for 8.5” x 11”.
Transcribe A Song charges $18 per audio minute with a minimum of two minutes. Turnaround time is a minimum of 5 days.
Online Sheet Music Sellers
In this blog, we focus more on the cover, jazz, and horn bands. Below is a list of sheet music sellers that cater to those genres of music. We’ve also added a couple of college libraries for more obscure music.
Horn Charts 4 Less – Try this service if you are on a tight budget. However, they say, “Different arrangers write the charts, and we do not guarantee their accuracy.”
Pepperhorn.com – You may search by artist, song title, album, composer, or era.
Free Horn Charts – This is a free site, but the music is limited.
Internet Sources for Big Band Arrangements - Fredonia College in New York has a searchable music library.
Horn Band Charts – This is a good source for horns, but not for other instruments.
Party Band Sheet Music – They have a wide range of search options, including eleven different instruments. You can also search by genres such as Big Band, Funk, High School Band, Horn Charts and Arrangements, Master Rhythm, Rhythm Section Charts, and Sheet Music.
Scribd.com – This site is mostly for books, but they do carry sheet music too.
MindForMusic.com – This is a free site. You may find some music you can use here, but it won’t be as comprehensive as other sites.
Best Way to Store Your Sheet Music
Now that you’ve gone to the expense and trouble of finding and downloading your sheet music, where will you store it so it won’t get lost or deleted? We have the perfect solution, the Back On Stage App. It’s a comprehensive web app that helps bandleaders manage their bands.
One of the best features is the Repertoire and Set List feature. You can store digital copies of your sheet music along with the audio and video files if you have them. You can send copies to all members of your band with a couple of clicks. It’s a lifesaver for when you call in subs to fill in at the last minute. They get the right information from the start—no more searching YouTube or hassling with Dropbox, Evernote, or other disjointed music libraries.