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Save Sibelius campaign goes social

A passionate group of Sibelius users are hoping to force Avid to sell the music notation software through an intensive social media campaign and online petition.

Sibelius users have expressed deep concern over the future of the music notation software after Avid Technology confirmed the closure of Sibelius’ UK development office in early July. So great is the concern among ‘Sibelians’ that an online campaign has been launched to encourage Avid to sell the software. As PSNEurope went to print, the Facebook page had already attracted nearly 6,500 fans, and the accompanying petition over 2,100 signatures. The issue was first raised following Avid’s divestiture of M-Audio and AIR. Around the same time, a non-public communication was sent to the UK Sibelius employees announcing the closure of the Finsbury park office. The news was quickly leaked online, and Avid confirmed the UK office closure in a release dated 07 July: “This office closing is part of Avid’s larger strategic reorganization, and while it does impact members of the Sibelius team, we’d like to stress that this should not in any way be considered a diminishment in our commitment to Sibelius.” A second release addressing the outpouring of concern on social media sites outlined Avid’s plan “to integrate Sibelius development more closely with the rest of Avid’s audio development teams in California.”Despite Avid’s reassurances, Sibelius users are concerned about losing a highly committed team of programmers, most of whom are also classical musicians, who have, until now, overseen development of the software.“You’ve got a team there who bring very different things to the party,” says one Sibelius insider who contacted PSNEurope but did not wish to be named. “It’s like saying ‘yes, we can all drive;’ but only Michael Schumacher can drive like Michael Schumacher. You’ve got a driving force in Daniel Spreadbury (Sibelius’ senior project manager) who pulls it all together. I’ve never known anyone who answers tech support emails at four in the morning.”Spearheading the online campaign is composer and long-time Sibelius user Derek Williams (pictured): “I just went on to Sibelius’ support forum and said ‘this is completely outrageous and I’m going to do something about it, who’s with me?’ and all these people came out of the woodwork,” he said. “This is a team that made this application the greatest and most successful, best-selling score writer in the world, that’s profitable and highly respected; used by Hollywood A-listers, used by esteemed composers the world over – the very top of its game. And you go in there and sack them all. It’s just completely unfair. It’s wrong. It’s an inhuman thing to do.” Many interested parties have expressed interest in buying the Queen’s Innovation Award-winning software from Avid, including two separate bids from founders Ben and Jonathan Finn. So far, none have been successful. “If you really cannot sustain the team for financial reasons – please consider accepting offers from other people who would be willing and able to do so,” wrote Simon Whiteside – one of the software’s original developers – in an open letter to Avid CEO Gary Greenfield and senior VP Chris Gahagan. “This product is really too important to too many people to allow it to wither away and die.”