As well as individual subscribers, there were a number of institutions that subscribed to musical publications, one of the most important of which was the music club. This type of subscriber could take a number of forms and although some did describe themselves as a “musical society,” they could equally refer to themselves as, for example, a “catch club,” a “harmonic society,” or a “choir.” These groups purchased music for the use at their meetings, or for their members to borrow, and often the appearance of their name in a subscription list is the only extant evidence of their existence.

By examining what works these groups subscribed to, we can glean a significant amount of new information as to what genres were most popular with musical societies, the popularity of individual composers, what music was performed at society meetings and the manner in which it was played. While subscription lists cannot provide a full picture of club activity, when this information is attached to other documents, such as society records and newspaper reports, it provides a fuller description of such activity than has ever been seen before.