Save Sibelius

Volume 112, No. 10October, 2012

Richie Vitale

A CEO increases his salary from $1.2 million in 2009 to a whopping compensation package of over $4.8 million in 2011. Then a healthy company is terminated, sacking its best employees and then moving the operation offshore? Sound familiar.

To me, it appears that’s exactly what has happened to the British development team of the award-winning music notation program Sibelius.

The good guys are being sacked. Daniel Spreadbury and his programming team of nearly two dozen were instrumental to the advancement and development of Sibelius these past few years. According to what I have been advised, they have now been reduced to a skeleton crew by Avid, which is replacing them with programmers in the Ukraine.

As a musician, I’m very committed to Sibelius. When Sibelius 7 came out, I took to it like a duck to water. I thought it was delightful, reaching out to new customers and young music students, solidifying Sibelius’ lead in the market as a unique, refined, intelligently-designed composing and arranging tool, and yet never dumbing down its usability.

I want Sibelius to continue and prosper so I joined a group dedicated to this cause. After contemplating the various options, we’ve come up with what we think is the best solution to save Sibelius. We’re asking Avid to sell Sibelius to a third party.

But Avid is reluctant to sell. With an estimated turnover of $18 million a year, Sibelius is one of the only truly profitable products for Avid.

We support free enterprise. Everyone deserves to make more for their hard earned work. But not to the point of obscenity. If you want a product to grow and mature, you give yourself and your co-workers raises commensurate with the growth of your company.

I feel that this is not happening with Avid. In my opinion, Avid’s C.E.O. and board seem hell-bent on destroying a decade of customer loyalty and product integrity – things that cannot be bought with any amount of money!

Now it seems that the salespeople are running the company, instead of the designers. I feel that the profit motive has usurped the belief that a product should be truly great and endure.

Officially Avid has said, “Our plan is to integrate Sibelius development more closely with the rest of Avid’s audio development teams in California, and I’m confident we can leverage our innovative development teams and continue to raise the bar in the future.”

But their actions appear to speak differently. Avid appears to be hiring programmers in the Ukraine who will keep Sibelius afloat until it is bled dry and becomes a deprecated program that no longer works on our newer operating systems.

If you’re a Finale user, does any of this matter to you? It is important to have friendly competition between similar products as it stimulates improvements in development and helps keep prices competitive. Sibelius has become more comprehensive and Finale has become more intuitive as a result.

So, what do we intend to accomplish? We want to put as much pressure as possible on Avid to sell Sibelius to a friendly party. If Avid shareholders are losing customers, business, respect, and money, there is a possibility.

To help out, visit our “SaveSibelius” Facebook Web site and push the “About” link in the upper-left. “Like” us and there are links explaining what to do and who to write to. It’ll cost you nothing but a few minutes of your time.

The option of sitting back and doing nothing is inconceivable for us.

Let’s see which one wins with Avid: stubbornness and arrogance . . . or wisdom and good business sense.