Dozens of jobs are at risk as Sibelius, producer of the world’s best-selling music notation software, is closing its offices in Finsbury Park, London.
The closure is part of a restructuring programme at parent company Avid, which will also see it divest its consumer-oriented products ‘to focus the company on its Media Enterprise and Post & Professional customers and to drive improved operating performance,’ an announcement said. CM has been told that staff in London have seen the announcement as coming ‘completely out of the blue’.
After its initial release to the public in 1993, the Sibelius software has been one of the great success stories of British music computer programming. Initially devised for the Acorn computer by twins Ben and Jonathan Finn while they were music students, the software was perfectly timed to catch the subsequent domination of the personal computer market by Microsoft. When a Windows-compatible version was released in 1998, the brothers, still operating a cottage industry, received 1,000 phone calls within two weeks and saw profits shoot up.
Sibelius has become the software of choice for composers of all types of notated music and within five years of its availability on Windows and Macintosh it had also captured over 50% of the UK secondary schools and higher education market. Through its US offices Sibelius also has considerable international reach.
As its popularity increased through updated incarnations, the inevitability of a buyout became reality in 2006 when a cash offer of around $23m from US-based video and audio production specialist Avid saw the Finn brothers relinquishing the company. Avid has continued publishing Sibelius as a stand-alone notation product, as well as integrating it with some of its existing software. However, in the face of a continually shifting market, Avid has recently been posting significant losses and laid off some 200 staff in autumn 2011.
A 2 July statement by Avid’s ceo, Gary Greenfield, was couched in terms of making Avid ‘a more focused and agile company’, which will be of little consolation to staff in Finsbury Park whose work helped maintain Sibelius’ market-leading profile. Avid has said it is committed to the Sibelius product, although how it will be affected by the changes remains to be seen.