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Breaking disaster: Sibelius to shut down

We’re hearing online that Sibelius software, who have done more to speed up the composing and instrumentation process than anyone since Haydn, are shutting down their UK headquarters with the loss of dozens of jobs,

Here’s the tweet and some comment. More follows.

There is no confirmation on the Sibelius website. If you work for them, let us know what’s going on.

It is six years since the company was sold by its founders to US company Avid. Rumours are going round that the software development work will be moved to the Ukraine. If you were thinking of buying a Sibelius program, hold off until the situation clarifies.

UPDATE: Here’s the spin from AVID headquarters in the US. They are slashing jobs worldwide.

URLINGTON, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Today Avid® (NASDAQ: AVID) initiated a series of strategic actions to focus the company on its Media Enterprise and Post & Professional customers and to drive improved operating performance. As part of these actions, the company is divesting its consumer businesses. With these changes, Avid will concentrate on core markets where its deep domain expertise, track record of technical innovation, and strong brand offer the greatest opportunity for success.

“The changes we are announcing today make Avid a more focused and agile company”

“The changes we are announcing today make Avid a more focused and agile company,” said Gary Greenfield, CEO of Avid. “By streamlining and simplifying operations, we expect to deliver improved financial performance and partner more closely with our enterprise and professional customers. Our objective remains to provide these customers with the innovative solutions that allow them to create the most listened to, most watched and most loved media in the world. I’m excited about our future prospects.”

Avid has agreed to sell its consumer audio and video product lines. The company’s consumer audio products are being sold to inMusic, the parent company of Akai Professional, Alesis and Numark, among others. Headquartered in Cumberland, Rhode Island, inMusic’s brands are best known for producing innovative products for music production, performance and DJing. The products involved in this transaction include M-Audio brand keyboards, controllers, interfaces, speakers and digital DJ equipment and other product lines. Avid will continue to develop and sell its industry-leading Pro Tools® line of software and hardware, as well as associated I/O devices including Mbox and Fast Track.

Separately, the company’s consumer video editing line is being sold to Corel Corporation, a consumer software company headquartered in Ottawa, Canada. The products involved in this transaction include Avid Studio, Pinnacle Studio, and the Avid Studio App for the Apple iPad®, as well as other legacy video capture products.

The divested product lines contributed approximately $91 million of Avid’s 2011 revenue of $677 million. As part of the transactions, certain employees of Avid will transfer to each acquiring company. Avid estimates that the proceeds from these transactions will be approximately $17 million, subject to closing inventory adjustment, with a portion held in escrow. Both transactions are expected to close today, July 2, 2012.

Avid also plans to reduce the number of its employees as it streamlines operations, with approximately 20% of its permanent employee base impacted by the divestitures and headcount reduction plans. The company currently expects to incur a restructuring charge of approximately $19 to $23 million related to these actions and other associated measures.

The company’s cash balance on March 31, 2012 was $49.7 million. The proceeds from the sale of these product lines should offset most of the restructuring charges paid in 2012.

Conference Call

A conference call to discuss these actions has been scheduled for today, July 2, 2012 at 12:00 p.m. ET. The call will be open to the public and can be accessed by dialing (719)-325-2234 and referencing confirmation code 2084154. The call and presentation slides will also be available on Avid’s website. To listen and view the slides, go tohttp://ir.avid.com/events.cfm prior to the start of the conference call.

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Comments

  1. Oh this is ominous news indeed! I’ve known the company since the very beginning and was once considered for a senior job there. I suppose all those smug Finale users will be even smugger now.

    But, Sibelius suffers from the problem that a lot of successful software does – it does the main thing it’s supposed to do (high end score layout / dtp) very well, and so there’s little/no incentive for the average user to buy the next version. The current version (7) has a radically new interface that has put some of the existing userbase off. Version 6 which I use is perfect in almost every way. Well, I say “almost”, but I can’t think of a way in which it isn’t perfect for the job of copying scores (even very complicated ones).

    On the other hand there are some very good development shops in Ukraine etc but they aren’t cheap! This just doesn’t bode well. “Cost cutting” for no other purpose never does. But there really aren’t many ways to improve the product, except bring out irritating UI changes and add secondary features related to playback and sequencing, so why maintain a central London development team, at London rates (which are high, needless to say)

    • Paolo T. says:

      Very well said indeed. Now, if only the new team could start any refinement from Sib 6′s code and UI…

  2. David Harvey says:

    Appalling news, a very sad day.

    Small correction – Sibelius was sold to Avid in 2006, not 15 months ago.

  3. Charles L. says:

    The AVID press release doesn’t mention Sibelius at all. Is there any actual information regarding Sibelius, and not just AVID at large?

  4. James Brinton says:

    “…improved financial performance…”
    The only meaningful phrase in the release.
    These days it’s never about the product, the service, or the customer, just the money.

    • Eh? Were it not for the money – which it was always about – there would be no product, and no service.

      If a large firm such as AVID buys a series of smaller firms, of course there’s going to be structural changes; there are efficiencies to be had (whether these are the right ones, who are we to judge?), even if it’s just sharing the accounts department or HR.

    • Haroldo Mauro says:

      I don´t think money is the problem. PROFIT is the problem. When the main purpose of production is PROFIT everything else is sacrificed in favor of it. “..improved financial performance” is a disguised way of saying the company will lay off workers in order to make more profits.

      • David R. says:

        “PROFIT is the problem???” When will you wake up to the fact the profit motive benefits more people than you imagine. Read Adam Smith – it’s called the free market system.

        • Haroldo Mauro says:

          Maybe you should wake up to the fact that the profit system is finished? It’s just a matter of time. Crisis are more frequent all the time and there will be no way out of it eventually. Then it will colapse. And do you know why? Because profit system and ethics are not compatible. That is why the guys in England are being fired. Fire workers = no ethics = more profit; keep workers = ethics = less profit. No way out. It’s finished. Awareness of this formula is growing fast in the world and so is the demand for ethics.

          • I would offer a different view. Profit per se is not the problem. We all do it to some extent. To the extent that we make a gain in any transaction of any sort, we make a profit.

            Individuals and organisations have three primary choices: profit, loss, or break-even. As I understand it, break-even is the goal for nonprofit, or as the term these days is, “not for profit” (what a cumbersome term!) organisations. But it’s probably the most difficult choice, as the break-even mark is more likely to be missed and adjustments made thereafter. That’s easy enough if the error was profit, because you can carry that over and adjust budgets etc. But can be tricky if the error is loss that proves unsustainable.

            Anyway, forget that bit. If people are employed by a private enterprise company, it is in their interests for that company to make a profit. The problem becomes when somehow the market is unsustainable.

            I do agree that ethical business means not striving for an exorbitant profit that thereby necessitates reducing the workforce. Sometimes of course it is the workforce that is unethical, and part of the problem is that they’ve had it so good for so long that they take the situation for granted.

            I guess also the financial quantums in which a given industry operate are an important factor overlooked by everyone but the accountants trying to make it work.

            So for example, the running costs of airlines entail large financial quantums. Jet fuel is expensive, aircraft are expensive, and parts for those aircraft are expensive etc: if you’re suddenly up for large, unsustainable expenditure, you might go bust. If you’re operating in a first world country, with first world labour costs, collectively that’s a major cost. All this in a competitive industry where the customers – US – typically go for the airline that charges the least for seats. Those of you who have observed this particular market over sufficient decades will know that there have been several low-budget airlines that have not survived over time.

            I come back my point that we, the people – especially in first world countries – are part of the problem. I think that is the case at every level, although it is most visible at the chief executive level, simply by virtue of the exorbitant salaries of some of them. But we the people are part of THAT problem too.

            No point in just mindlessly protesting. Might as well occupy the lavatory as occupy Wall Street, for all the good such movements do.

            WHERE is the list of high performing chief executives who do not seek exorbitant salaries that no sane person could spend in their lifetime? There WILL be such people, scattered throughout the globe in various industries. WHO can pull THAT list together and network to create a market dynamic that drives down THAT end of the spectrum? I’m probably in the wrong forum to even ask a question like that.

            I don’t even know at this stage if such a forum exists anywhere: I’m not talking some mindless talkfest where people make themselves feel good or vent their spleen and meantime nothing comes of it (and yes of course that criticism can apply to me if I don’t actively seek out and apply the very principles I proclaim). No, I’m talking about making a practical difference using common-or-garden market dynamics.

  5. Unfortunately, part of the problem in first world countries is us, with the positive feedback loops that we contribute to the creation and perpetuation of.

    We want top dollar for our labour, but we want to pay bottom dollar for products and services, all the while striving to maximise profits in our own lives. I am as guilty as anyone else regarding the latter, although I am one of the few I’ve known who has actually declined pay increases, and declined to go for a higher paying position if it meant losing good quality colleagues (one of my best results there was in the mentoring of a young woman who became my superior). I would not claim of course that my approach is optimal: certainly not in our society.

    But the economics of our first world expectations just don’t stack up, as is evident from developments in Europe and elsewhere. Indeed the absurdity is that when it comes to things like perpetual motion machines, or say cold fusion many people (but not everyone of course: see Robert L Park’s excellent book ‘Voodoo Science’) grasp the concept that one cannot take out more energy from a system than one puts in, yet fail to see that it appears to apply to any system at all, including economic ones.

    • Self-correction. I meant to say I am as guilty as anyone else in trying to minimise my expenditures. I added the “maximising profits” line, without noticing that this became “the latter”. In that – maximising my own profit – I am most definitely NOT a good example. Ho hum.

      • Another self-correction. Of course one can take more energy out of a system than one puts in. It occurs all the time, with a key caveat as follows. What I should have said was one can’t take more energy out of a system than one puts in, without that system running down.

  6. Alex Klein says:

    The “improved financial performance” also bothers me, on a practical and philosophical level. So we have transformed humanity into machines already, and all we do is raise money? On the other end of the spectrum, creating something – yes, like Sibelius – should be something of a reassurance oh human thought and ingenuity. There is payment for services, but there is payment in the privilege of creation. Clearly their ought to be a balance between these two fronts which better serves humanity, rather than transform all our gains into…..gains.

    • “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest”

  7. Maestro Flash Montoya says:

    Although the corporate-speak is revolting, I’d like to think that this might be good for Sibelius. The last update (7) was not a well-conceived product; it was much more the brainchild of marketing nerds who wanted to lure Finale users by cluttering the toolbars with a myriad of redundant mouse commands, much like Microsoft did several years ago with Word. Sibelius 7 is also prone to crashing. I’m quite happy with Sibelius 6, however there are many areas that could still be improved on. So I’m hoping that the new owners will let some good engineers loose and put out a decent update.

    • @Maestro,

      I think will be disappointed in your hopes. Outsourced development means programmers of unknown ability (the Sibelius team were very talented) without any experience or interest in this specialist area probably without the specialist musical expertise and advice they need. Avid will likely spend as little as possible on further development and squeeze what remaining cash they can from Sibelius.

      I strongly disagree with your assessment of Sibelius 7. It was not at all conceived by ‘marketing’. The ribbon, while an unsettling change for long time existing users, was firmly designed with the needs of users in mind. Crashing is always undesirable but has to be seen in the context of the major technical transitions required to keep Sibelius alive in an increasingly 64-bit world.

      • the latest upgrades on Sibelius 7 solved all of your computers crashes. Would always crash before I got the latest upgrades. GR

  8. Lunático da Silva says:

    Sibelius and Finale? Pff! We should support MuseScore, the open source solution, which is getting very good and improving fast.

  9. It does not make any sense to me – Sibelius is not a consumer product but a product that is at the heart of creating high end entertainment, something Avid still professes to endorse in its presentation yesterday. Why change it if it ain’t broke?

    • One assumes the product may not be broke but the business model is. Hence need for change.
      As in – the dev team are too expensive to run, and the product is so good users aren’t upgrading or prepared to pay for a major overhaul.

  10. I’m pissed off cause I finally just got used to Sibelius 7 and it really is perfect as the first commentator said. This product never has a reason to be upgraded, Sibelius works! I don’t have to use Paint or Adobe to edit scores as if hand written. None of that ridiculous crap, Sibelius 7 does it all for me.

    I really dislike this company Avid and I was stressed out with their customer support since the day they came in. I’ll probably just live on 7 for the longest amount of time and if it’s shut down I’ll move to Finale since Finale allows users to score edit at a very high level.

    • This doesn’t make sense to me. You, and others here seem to be saying that the product has reached developmental maturity. i.e., it does what you need it to do and you are quite happy with it as it stands, thank you very much.
      So why is anyone really bothered about the team of programmers AVID employs? Provided they employ people capable of fixing bugs and minor tweaks, what else do you want them to do? I assume you would want them to provide updates and fixes at the lowest cost to make it affordable for you and thousands of other composers and musicians, so if they believe this is the way to achieve that, what’s the problem?

      • The problm is we want the same level of support to continue…and through the help forum, many of us feel personal ties, thankfulness, and loyalty to the staff that brought us such a good product and then sorted out our difficulties..because no product is perfect…

        • Fine, but ongoing support and maintenance doesn’t require as large a staff as a full dev team; so it’s still reasonable to re-structure as a product matures.

          Besides, if you want to keep staffing levels – are you willing to over-pay for a product and for ongoing support to have that? Even if you are, most aren’t, and that means those employees are unaffordable.

          • Sibelius has nowhere near reached its potential, to say nothing of many misfeatures like the treatment of triplets. Software takes a vast amount of time to develop and debug. There were only 20 staff in the entire world looking after Sibelius development and maintenance. Now they’ve been sacked

            Considering that Avid pays its CEO Gary Greenfield a sickening $4.8 million per year to preside over the sacking of good people who showed nothing but dedication to their employer, I think they could have tried to keep Sibelius going, unless it was haemorraghing losses. However there’s been no suggestion it’s not profitable – after all it was purchased in 2006 from the Finn twins for $23 million.

            This news has opened the gates for Finale to become the preferred scorewriter in Academia the world over. It’s already started in my own university who are now planning to switch.

          • Derek, if your whole institution is prepared to switch at such short notice, it doesn’t really seem that Sibelius was much ahead of its competitors in any case.
            That in turn would suggest that maybe people wouldn’t be prepared to pay such a premium for it; so as a developer, why struggle on with it – or how to afford to push on with it?

          • I second Derek on every point.

            ‘Anon’ shows sad naivete about so many points in his attempts to be devil’s advocate.

            The very specialist and niche musical notation focus of Sibelius is only tenuously related to MIDI in Pro Tools which is itself a niche minority use case within the Pro Tools user base. Score representation of MIDI is already integrated within Pro Tools which is presumably why they have to hang on to Sibelius.

            Avid’s so called commitment will at best amount to cynical minimal effort maintenance to harvest maximal income upgrade – this would precisely be ‘over-paying for static software which doesn’t change much’. Avid are very unlikely to invest in developing skills in music notation even without the current cuts. More likely they’ll simply tire of the effort to maintain the product and kill it within a year or two.

            Avid have to claim ‘full support’ because if they did not it would immediately kill sales of the current version of Sibelius. Their commitment is also vague and wordy – nothing specific or measurable that Sibelius users could hold them to account for.

            Several posters have appealed that financial prudence and rational business planning surely must underlie such decisions but the actions of Avid management over the past few years show little evidence of such attributes despite their enormous and unjustifiable financial packages.

            Most of Anons assumptions to prop up arguments are ill-informed at best. Also what evidence is there that it is legally easier to close rather than to downsize in the UK?

          • I wonder whether Sibelius will ever be re-released as an open-source project.. what are the realities of that?

  11. this makes me nervous — I hope that, if Avid sells Sibelius, that they sell it back to its developers, or perhaps the users can make a group buy and keep it going. For my part, Sibelius 7 suits me perfectly fine, and if it’s never updated, so be it. I’ll just keep using Sibelius 7 on a 10-year old Mac if I have to… just like a colleague of mine, who is still using Encore.

  12. Lilypond and Musescore are the ones I’d like to see go ahead, since they are open source, much more compatible with other software, and free

  13. Alexandre says:

    Sibelius 7 and its ribbon sucks! I used the software for a long time now and only upgrade because of lion osx compatibility issues. My favorite version was sib 3. And it still crashes, even more then before, oh yeah.

  14. It isn’t an exaggeration to say that Sibelius’s success has been due to the excellent UK development team headed by Daniel Spreadbury et al, with their ‘written by musicians for musicians’ approach, ever since Ben & Jonathan Finn launched their product in 1993 and it quickly became the market leader in notation software. I speak for thousands of other composers when I say that I have always received excellent ongoing support from them as a company, and it is the care and attention to detail of the UK team that has made the software what it is. For Avid to ‘restructure’ any of the London employees out of the company at this stage and move development to Kiev or wherever is scandalous – and without the UK team’s unique & intelligent approach, the software will surely suffer in future versions, or at best, become much more corporate and less attractive to musicians.

  15. The remark about people who never upgrade because they are satisfied with the version they have really hit home. I’m still on 3 and it has worked fine for me. Sigh.,

  16. Sir:

    I decided not to update to Sibelius 7, because the only useful improvement I could find were in the more advanced options for text formatting. The two other major changes, an improved sound library and the ribbon toolbar, did not appeal to me because I never use the former and the latter seems disingenuous insofar as it would reduce the already restricted vertical space on my laptop screen and it appeared inferior in design and structure to the toolbars in Sibelius 6. If there could be an update to Sibelius 6 that just offers the improved text formatting, I would be interested, but I am not paying over £100 for a new version with lots of (from my perspective) redundant features and a worse interface.

    That is not to say that I think Sibelius software has reached “maturity” and needs no further updates. There are many weaknesses in Sibelius 6 (which do not appear to be addressed in Sibelius 7), and music notation is constantly evolving in the hands of modern composers; if anything, Sibelius software is behind in that it requires workarounds for many innovations such as irrational time signatures.

    • There’s a load more changes than that. Check out the videos here: https://www.youtube.com/user/nycmusicservices

      The Ribbon is far better organised, but it is easy to get prematurely irritated trying to find where everything has moved to, and so give up before the full scope of the rewrite is appreciated.

      I would encourage you to download the free one-month demo version and work with it with a positive approachwhen you are between gigs. I’ll be surprised if you don’t switch after all.

  17. Hi Norman
    We’re the site you allude to in your original piece, as breaking this very sad news. Just so your readers are clear, we are a site dedicated to Avid Pro Tools and have many contacts in this industry and in particular within Avid. Seldom are we wrong about these things, we check our facts several times before going to press, this is essential when jobs are part of the story.

    This story was confirmed yesterday by our friends at Pro Sound News http://www.prosoundnewseurope.com/newsletteraudio4broadcast-content/full/avid-sibelius-uk-office-closes-jobs-go-at-pinewood;jsessionid=87483BA46FEBEBE7926C352786B8EFDE

    Thanks for your interest

    • Thanks, Russ. We did our own checks to confirm that the UK office had been wiped out overnight. Avid do not sound like enlightened 21st century employers.

  18. Avid’s decision to extinguish Sibelius UK, home of the most successful music scorewriter on the planet is inexplicable and beyond horrendous, a shocking slap in the face for composers and arrangers, students and educators the world over. I’ve no idea what prompted this decision, but dumping us users right in it is not the act of an enterprising organisation. Even with profit as its sole motivation, ahead of creativity and innovation, driving this wonderful application to extinction instead of trying to improve sales and come up with creative solutions, is nothing short of wanton vandalism.

    CEO’s of large corporations don’t care about families except insofar as they impact on reputation and profit. So an effective way to attack this is to address the impact of Sibelius UK closure on reputation and profit. If either is damaged, the other is affected.

    The end of Sibelius UK can be seen as a loss of face for Britain as much as it is for the employees of Sibelius. It could also have political ramifications, given the current government’s express commitment to job creation and foreign investment, so those of a mind to do so could write in this vein to their MP, talk to local media and of course keep the emails coming to Mr Greenfield and his pals. There are other CC’s you might want to use:

    Gary Greenfield gary.greenfield@avid.com
    Martin Kloiber martin.kloiber@avid.com
    Dana Ruzicka dana.ruzicka@avid.com
    Ian Bruce ian.bruce@avid.com

    One can also comment in the Avid Facebook site https://www.facebook.com/AvidTechnology by clicking ‘Like’ and then posting both in the ‘Write something’ field, and below its restructuring announcement. If Avid’s FB becomes flooded with complaints then not only will this raise public awareness about this decision to axe Sibelius, it may mobilise others to complain. There are also many local Fax and Telephone numbers that can be contacted at http://www.avid.com/us/about-avid/office-locations

    If Avid HQ become bogged down with complaints about this to the extent that it impacts on the running of their other enterprises, then they may look again at how else they can streamline Sibelius in the UK.

    They’ll have been expect some backlash, but the question is how much backlash will they endure, and how much are we prepared and able to give? The Sibelius users’ group is very large indeed. If it can be contacted, and everyone sends an email, a letter and a fax, and posts to Facebook, then that will cause real trouble. They can’t keep changing their email addresses and Fax nos and blocking Facebook Likes forever.

    The new age technology gave us Sibelius, and it has also given us the means to protect it.

  19. “Avid’s decision to extinguish Sibelius UK, home of the most successful music scorewriter on the planet is inexplicable and beyond horrendous, a shocking slap in the face for composers and arrangers, students and educators the world over. I’ve no idea what prompted this decision, but dumping us users right in it is not the act of an enterprising organisation. Even with profit as its sole motivation, ahead of creativity and innovation, driving this wonderful application to extinction instead of trying to improve sales and come up with creative solutions, is nothing short of wanton vandalism.”

    Sorry, Derek, but I don’t understand this at all.
    The decision is totally explicable, hardly horrendous, and I fail to see how it slaps composers and arrangers in the face, as you suggest. They still have the Sibelius product they now have; and AVID have expressed a commitment to that product. How can shifting the dev team from one office to another office be “horrendous” or a slap in the face to anybody (except, perhaps, the employees now without a job).
    In what way are users “dumped in it”? It’s not like the software has stopped working overnight – everyone can carry on using their software just as they were yesterday.
    Why do you state the product is driven to extinction, when AVID have said the opposite, that they are behind the product? It just doesn’t make sense!

    AVID are a huge company, with many programmers and development teams across various audio, visual, and music related products. It makes good sense where they can to consolidate resources and concentrate their efforts – I’m sure the original Sibelius teams did that in their own way in the UK from time to time, and this is just the same on a larger scale.
    The alternative is to carry on a bloated, costly organisation, which drives up the cost of the product to users, who move to competitor software, and then the programmers all loose their jobs anyway. Far better to maintain an active product with a slimmer team than to lose it completely in a couple of years, I’m sure you’d agree?
    Or would you prefer to over-pay for static software which doesn’t change much?

    It wouldn’t surprise me if AVID were seeing a closer integration of notation software with other products of theirs, which could well be a huge boon for many users and open up all sorts of extra possibilities; but that’s only speculation. Would certainly explain a closer centralisation of development teams.

    • This is a replay of old history, The application Composers’ Mosaic was left to die on the roadside by its developers, Mark of the Unicorn, leaving me in the lurch with hundreds of scores that no longer work in the current Apple flagship OS X. Likewise the Opcode company, deliberately assassinated by its purchasers, Gibson Guitars, and the roadkill was never taken over and so all those libraries and projects now lie fallow unless one is prepared to do what I was forced to, keep three computers with different OS for every time one needs to revisit those commissions. In neither case did the companies admit they were retiring their own products.

      Sibelius used to be active in US, Japan and Australia in addition to its UK home. Since the takeover by Avid, these offices have one by one closed, and the staff decimated. Now they have knocked off the last post. It’s clear they intend to retire the product. Once again I will be faced with learning yet another application, or keeping a fourth computer just to keep Sibelius projects alive.

      As for what Avid says, that public posturing is entirely to be expected. I clearly recall a certain US president saying “read my lips, no new taxes”.

      I can only hope that Avid opt for a public sale, or separate a float for a standalone Sibelius corp so a consortium of investors with conscience and imagination can wrest it loose from them.

      And as for Avid optimising their resources, how optimal is CEO Gary Greenfield’s salary increase from $1.2 million in 2009 to a staggering $4.8 million in 2011? Paying one man an extra $3.6 million to preside over the destruction of a conspicuously successful UK enterprise, with all the human costs inflicted upon its unquestionably loyal employees is beyond sickening. If Mr Greenfield could only learn to live within his means, that might start setting a better example to others struggling to live within theirs.

      • There’s just too much assumption here to be able to make such a judgement with any degree of authority.
        If Sibelius really was, as is claimed, highly successful (by which I mean able to pay its own way and turn a decent profit, not just have a large user base), I’d be rather surprised if any owning company would close it – that’s just daft.

        I’m not surprised to read that Sibelius offices in US, JP, AUS, UK have closed as you say – it’s clearly a very, very niche product, so why it would warrant dev offices all over the place is beyond me in any case.

        If Sibelius were a genuinely successful, profitable business, then I see no reason for AVID to make changes. By and large an exit strategy in such a situation would usually involve selling a firm, particularly one that there has been significant outlay to acquire. The implication, then, is that Sibelius was not the healthiest of units, and needed sorting out.
        I need not tell you, I am sure, how difficult it is to move an employee from the UK to the US (thanks to US immigration law), nor, in fact, how difficult it can be to downsize in the UK, thanks to draconian UK employment law. Rather easier to close down completely – and that’s not AVID’s fault, that’s the fault of the UK’s own legislators.

        AVID’s CEO salary is a side-issue, and absolutely nothing to do with Sibelius. If as claimed Sibelius is successful, then that should be fine in its own right regardless of AVID’s CEO. If it isn’t, then why should AVID devote resources to propping up a failing business?

        You say there are many many thousands of Sibelius users. For sure: but how many of those actually paid full whack for the product? Perhaps if everyone did, rather than students buying cut-price copies but omitting to upgrade to full price when they graduate, buying them and passing them on outside of education, or just downright cracked copies and pirated versions, Sibelius would be able to survive…

        • The overseas offices were I believe for distribution and localised tech support. Development has always been in the UK, which is now being closed.

          The CEO salary is anything but a side-issue. If Mr Greenfield could somehow manage to struggle along on his 2009 pittance of $1.2 million, that alone would cover the running costs of Sibelius UK, to say nothing of all the other execs at Avid, whose salaries won’t be far behind.

          When people ‘earn’ sums like $4.8 million per annum, they cease to dwell in the known universe and swan around the globe surrounded by obsequious yes-men. One needs only to look at corporate bankers whose telephone numbers are practically indistinguishable from their salaries, to confirm that high salary is not ipso facto commensurate with high competence, unless you believe that global recession and corporate collapse are indicators of skill and good management.

          As for going offshore in search of lower salaries, there has been recent criticism of Apple for exploitative practices in Chinese sweatshops. if getting the cheapest labour possible is always the aim, then we would sack the entire UK workforce, because everything done here can be done cheaper in Asia. There are also the vagaries of international exchange rates which inflame competition through relational differences in labour costs. At some point, social conscience surely comes to play, where you consider employees as human beings ahead of machines to automate profits.

          Finally, student prices endure only for as long as the licensee remains a student. I agree with you about the cracked copies – they cause the price to rise too, but there is more than one way to skin a cat. I don’t believe Sibelius would die as a result of keeping the UK development team employed, but on the basis of personal experience with other such products as I already outlined, I believe that diluting its development across vast global enterprise will.

  20. When Sibelius discontinued development on the original Acorn RISC OS version of the program back in 1997, I was asked by the Finn brothers to set up a support service for users, because they were switching lock, stock and barrel to the PC/Mac version, and didn’t want to offer support any more. For a few years, until the vast majority of Acorn users had either moved to the PC/Mac version (or, I suppose, died off!) I had a good number of subscribers to the service I offered. Perhaps an idea for the poor development team who have been dumped by Avid would be to set up a subscription help service for Sibelius users. That way, we would not lose their expertise. However, it would require us all to put our money where our mouths are and stump up an annual subscription…

  21. It is not me the consumer, but the development team that has made Sibelius great.  Its success among the great composers of Hollywood, theatre, symphony and pop as the world’s most intuitive and popular scorewriter results from their unequivocal commitment and unique talent.  Shutting down the nerve centre of this confluence of genetic brilliance is an act of such banality, expedience, corporate vandalism and rank stupidity, that by this act, Avid has proven itself unworthy to marshal such a resource into the future.

    While the board of Avid has been busy shutting down Sibelius, with all that connotes for the staff in human terms, its CEO has meantime quadrupled his salary without a scintilla of prudence or frugality. There is only one conclusion to be drawn.  This board are nothing but corporate raiders, feathering their own pockets while presiding over the destruction of one of the greatest software accomplishments the world has ever known. Their blandishments and appeasements are to be entirely disbelieved, like the mendacious Bush’s notorious “read my lips, no new taxes”.

    Before Avid got hold of it in 2006, Sibelius had won the Queens Innovation Award; its founders, the Finn twins both received MBE for their achievement.  Along with television, penicillin, tarmacadam, anaesthesia, the railway engine, and Alan Turing’s computer – the very machine that it lives on, Sibelius is a uniquely British creation.  It cannot be transplanted in Kiev or Asia, with all its development team pensioned off.  Even if retained, staff clearly are not going to uproot themselves with all the family commitments they surely will have.

    When you consider that this brilliant and dedicated team have been told their place of employment is being shut down, what else have they to do but immediately begin seeking employment elsewhere?  Such talented people will obviously find alternative employment in a heartbeat, and maybe they already have for all I know.  Therefore, even if Avid now relent, this shocking decision whose effects have barely begun to be realised by our vast, worldwide community, has proven to us “by their deeds shall ye know them”.

    Make no mistake:  under Avid, Sibelius is doomed.  The only viable outcome will be a sale of the asset while it still has value.  As the world’s best selling scorewriter, Sibelius may well be a cash cow for Avid right now, but once the development team have departed, it will implode, suffering the fate of its forebears, MOTU Composers Mosaic, Encore and Opcode Vision.

    I therefore propose that pressure on Avid should now focus solely on persuading them to sell this enterprise.  It will be attractive to buyers with vision and a conscience, and it can be a tax write-down for Avid.  No-one can retain confidence in the Avid company that through bylaw, has progressively insulated itself from its shareholders, repeatedly posted losses, all the while quadrupling the salary of its top CEO to $4.8 million per annum.  People like this are not members of the known universe.  They surround themselves with obsequious yes men, and have no understanding of their staff as human beings. To such executives, people are mere servants, machines to be poked and prodded, then discarded just as soon as they can be replaced with slave labour offshore.

    Profit is a perfectly acceptable motivation for any business, but profit without vision is a Highway to Hell.  That’s where Avid is headed in my estimation, along with its reprehensible self serving policies and the directors who dreamed them up.

    I encourage anyone with with the means, knowledge and power to move in the direction I advocate above, to act swiftly before Avid assassinate the goose that lays the golden egg.  They are not to be trusted.

  22. Perhaps their choice of composer was ill-fated – if they’d have gone for Haydn, they’d have no problem progressing past 7 versions ;)

  23. @ prout

    Maybe Mozart would have upped the ante…

  24. Steven F. says:

    It all started with the colour purple… When Sibelius left out the finlandish blue hue for the Avid colour of centralized marketing. Priorities shifted from functionality to look, and thus was born the Ribbon.

    Yes the 64 bit and text alignment options were good additions, but in my opinion the worse outweigh the better. Rewire sync is still awfully bad and crashes 100 times a day, but they won’t consider Midi-sync. Little things that are a big deal if you do scores for TV or a movie and wish to sync a sequencer.

    I had already little faith in Avid, after their lack of support for the Euphonix console drivers and the ProTools 10 demo that didn’t load any plugins unless you reformatted your hard drive.

    Initially I remained with version 6, but after seeing v7 in action on my student’s computers I switched to Finale and transcribed my current work in progress as practice. 6 months later I am now quite professional with Finale and do not intend to look back at Sibelius unless they radically deviate from v.7 and add some of the features I have been requesting for years: different staff size for any pages, a better playback plugin with a midi-automation window, midi-clock and MTC (that works and never crashes – once you get it working through IAC).

    I now came to realize that Finale’s interface is not that bad at all, every tool serve it’s purpose and give you a different set of possible shortcuts. Compared to the Ribbon it’s certainly better.

    The thing I miss the most from Sibelius: the ability to hit space to push a slur or hairpin to the next note and the quick copy paste of any object. The things that I now love about FInale: midi tool, staff sets with independent stave spacing, layout % tool, Scroll view and TG_tools professional plugins, independent staff elements and different possible version of each symbols (with different playback properties), midi-channel change support and different midi-channels on different layers of the same staff.

    In all, Sibelius couldn’t support the layout complexity of my new score as well as Finale does, there are no longer thousands of hidden midi message in my score.

    It’s sad, but Sibelius went wrong.

  25. I am no expert on software, but I have been around long enough to know how corporate mentality works, and this is all the result of greed and bad business-school training. The founders of sibelius are to blame for cashing out in the first place, giving up control of the product. If they had been happy with all the money they had made from it, things would have gone on as they were. But given the inherent issues with the software, and the outrageous name they chose, I have had little respect for them, and even less now. The best result is for the expertise to flow to an open-source software/freeware for all to use.

  26. To understand the full story behind Avid’s shutdown of Sibelius UK, and to take such action as you see fit, please visit the new website we have launched today in order to help bring focus to this crisis:

    http://www.sibeliususers.org

    The Sibelius Users website includes a full background, financials on Avid, a Change.Org petition, links to our Facebook ‘Save Sibelius’ page, and the ability to send an email instantly to all the decision makers at Avid with a single click. Also provided are Avid media sites, and local fax numbers and physical addresses for Avid offices worldwide. We implore you to take whatever action you feel able to. Every click helps.

    Please share the Website, the Facebook page and the Petition far and wide. Only you can stop this shutdown from occurring, by the strength of your arguments and the sheer strength of your numbers. With nearly half a million users worldwide, our Sibelius community has the power to make Avid sit up and listen to us.

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