Shuttered Guitar Tabs Destination Plans Legal Resurrection

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Guitar players worldwide are often searching for tabs online, though a number of destinations have recently been shuttered. That includes the Online Guitar Archive (OLGA), which closed in mid-August of last year, and Guitar Tab Universe, also tapped last summer. Both were identified as targets by major publishing groups like the National Music Publishers’ Association and the Music Publishers Association of America, though continued demand for tabs encourages new entrants and underground solutions.

Against that inevitable tide, Madison, Wisconsin-based Musicnotes has recently purchased MXTabs.net and unveiled plans to relaunch the destination. The site, which contained 150,000 guitar, bass and drum tablatures at its peak, will now be realigned with the cooperation of major publishers, according to information received Tuesday.

Those deals are focused on advertising revenue splits, a structure that takes advantage of potentially high page volumes. Among the deals, Musicnotes pointed to an agreement with the Harry Fox Agency (HFA), a group traditionally associated with more conventional mechanical rights licensing.

“HFA has expanded its licensing and royalty distribution capabilities to support this kind of service, and we will continue to adapt to new licensing opportunities and models such as this to provide the most comprehensive service for our publishers,” said HFA president and CEO Gary Churgin.

Musicnotes will limit the destination to tabs that are approved by publishing partners, part of a squeaky clean resurrection. That puts pressure on the group to rally a meaningful number of publishers ahead of an anticipated launch this summer, especially since missing tabs means lower traffic levels. MXTabs was also closed during the summer of 2006.

The popularity of guitar tabs can be traced back to the early days of the internet when a lack of centralization made it easy for individuals to share tabs with others. This led to the rise of sites like OLGA and Guitar Tab Universe, which featured user-generated content that was often unlicensed.

However, the music publishing industry soon caught on and began cracking down on these sites, leading to their eventual closure. This created a void that has yet to be fully filled, though Musicnotes’ acquisition of MXTabs.net shows that companies are still interested in providing a legitimate alternative for guitar players.

While the relaunched MXTabs.net will feature only licensed content, it is still expected to be a major destination for guitar players looking for tabs. The site’s 150,000 tablatures cover a wide range of songs and genres, and the cooperation of major publishers means that users can be assured of the quality and accuracy of the tabs.

In addition to the revenue sharing deals with publishers, Musicnotes is also planning to monetize the site through advertising. The company has stated that it will be working with “leading brands” to create targeted ad campaigns, which will help to increase revenue and keep the site sustainable in the long term.

The relaunch of MXTabs.net is a positive development for guitar players who have been struggling to find a reliable source of tabs since the closure of OLGA and Guitar Tab Universe. With the cooperation of major publishers, the site is expected to be a legitimate alternative to the many underground sites that offer unlicensed content.

It remains to be seen how successful MXTabs.net will be in attracting publishers and users, but Musicnotes’ track record of providing high-quality sheet music suggests that the company is well-equipped to take on this challenge.

Overall, the relaunch of MXTabs.net is a promising development for guitar players worldwide, and a testament to the resilience of the online music community. As long as there is demand for guitar tabs, there will be companies willing to provide a legitimate alternative.