Keeping Score: Spreadbury Speaks on Sibelius Team Transition

Keeping Score: Spreadbury Speaks on Sibelius Team Transition

Daniel Spreadbury

Daniel Spreadbury

Daniel Spreadbury worked on the Sibelius notation software for years, both as a product* and community manager. Then, last July, the software’s parent company, Avid, announced a restructuring, and the Finsbury Park office in London that had been home to the Sibelius team was closed. News came last week, however, that the team is now opening a new office in London to work on a brand new notation program–this time under the auspices of Steinberg, a German company known primarily for the sequencer Cubase. Here’s what Spreadbury had to say about the new project:

Kevin Clark: First off—the question on everyone’s minds: what are you working on and when can we buy it? Of course things are in the very early stages, but any news would be very exciting.

Daniel Spreadbury: Obviously we shall be working on a brand new music notation and composition application, which will sit alongside Steinberg’s other products.  All other aspects and strategies are currently under discussion and will be communicated in due time.

KC: Are there any existing Steinberg technologies that form a good basis for your work?

DS: Certainly – though we’re not sure which just yet. Steinberg has a rich portfolio of technologies, and we can’t wait to get to know our new colleagues and learn from them about the ways in which components or technologies from other products can enrich our new program.

Steinberg logo

KC: Is your team still intact at Steinberg?

DS: Yes, as far as was possible. Steinberg have been fantastic, and were clear from the outset that they wanted to bring the whole team over if they could. However, after it was clear that our office would be closed, a few of our former colleagues took up other jobs and subsequently chose not to re-join us. But the team is definitely intact, and between us we have decades of experience in designing and building great software for musicians, and we are looking forward to combining that experience with the know-how of our new colleagues.

KC: How would a music notation product relate to the rest of Steinberg’s software? Would it be a part of the core business or a separate direction?

DS: Speaking as somebody who has until recently merely been an observer of Steinberg, it has always been my belief that Steinberg is totally committed to providing great products for creative musicians. I see our new application as fitting right in with this ethos, but perhaps targeted at musicians who are more comfortable working with music notation than with sequencer or DAW workflows.

KC: On a separate note, what’s it been like to go through this change for your whole team?

DS: We have been welcomed with open arms by Steinberg. The company’s leaders have shown a real commitment to our team in opening a new office for us in London, and we couldn’t be happier. Many of us have been working together for more than a decade, so the prospect of the team breaking up was pretty distressing, but now we are able to look forward to working together for years to come.

KC: Lastly, what can the community do to help? Any new product will take a while, but in the meantime, if your community wants to help, what should they do?

DS: Right now, it’s very early days. We have a lot of work to do before we can really engage directly with the community in a structured way, but we plan to once our plans are a little firmer. Watch this space!

* An earlier version of this article listed Daniel Spreadbury as a former programmer on Sibelius. He was not. He was a product manager. We regret the error, although we’re glad the actual Sibelius developers got a laugh out of it.

NewMusicBox provides a space for those engaged with new music to communicate their experiences and ideas in their own words. Articles and commentary posted here reflect the viewpoints of their individual authors; their appearance on NewMusicBox does not imply endorsement by New Music USA.

16 thoughts on “Keeping Score: Spreadbury Speaks on Sibelius Team Transition

  1. George Lam

    Thanks for the update, Kevin. I’ll forward to Carter 1.0, and I’m hoping it’s made for a tablet, and has Live Tiles.

    Or maybe it should be called “Carter 97”.

  2. John Sullivan

    So pleased for the London team and Daniel in particular that Steinberg appear to have had the foresight to see a looming Avid-created hole in the Notation Software market. Now that the brains behind Sibelius are free to consider how the talent they nurtured over the years can be directed into software which can directly challenge and hopefully surpass Sibelius’ capabilities – (of course in a totally new and original package), I would guess that the Avid top brass will become increasingly uneasy as they see their hitherto loyal customer base preparing to evaporate and return to London.
    Given the indignation of that customer base, whose protestations have gone unheeded by Avid, I would see them leaving in droves – of course as long as the new Steinberg product is everything that Sibelius would have gone on to be, – and I for one will be watching out with great anticipation for a fabulous product with a sensible cross-grade price tag.
    What a pathetically unnecessary own goal by Avid.
    Congratulations and good luck to all at the ‘new’ team.
    Three cheers for Steinberg!

    1. Peter McAleer

      Hi John,

      I’m not sure how true it is that the protestations went unheeded since they banned some of us from contributing to their public forums and were well all too aware of the outcry at the meeting with BASCA (We had been told there had been some consternation at the top of Avid about the volume of protest messages they continued to receive); BASCA was a real eye-opener concerning their attempts to rehire the London team (or so it was reported). And there has been some vitriol poured over the protestors in quarters not a million miles away from the Avid camp (and it continues). All in the past, thank goodness and the goal set by the Save Sibelius campaigners has mostly been accepted as irrelevant in the light of Steinberg’s magnificent move. But some campaigners remain and wish either to facilitate Sibelius’s ‘rescue’ and many would like to see it, or another candidate, developed as an Open Source spp. For me this is not about the software itself (and never was if I think about it) but the talent behind it. What’s left of Sibelius now is just an empty shell and I believe it’s been admitted (or so some comments I’ve seen indicate) that Sibelius 8 will be rather lean on new features. Of course Avid can fill that shell eventually – so can someone else. But for me, the real hope is with Steinberg now and I congratulate Steinberg on a very smart move, and wish the team all the good fortune and success I believe they deserve.

  3. Peter Roos

    Good interview – thanks for posting this. Good luck, Daniel and team, we are all anxiously looking forward to what you will come up with. I’m sure it is going to be great.

  4. Gavin H Julius

    I love this comment/post. I am getting those very same goosebumps as when I first laid my eyes on Sibelius 1.14 and somehow I know this is going to be historic. The community can definately help by sticking together and keeping this goal alive that, by the time version 1.0 is released, there will be a huge and ready user base.

    Good luck Daniel and the rest of the dream team.


  5. Francesco

    Good news, thanks!

    Now we couldn’t be happier: WE ie, the team and us, the former Sibelius faithful users! I’m going to become a fan of Steinberg now!

    No more a cent to avid and good luck to Daniel and team!

    TANTI AUGURI dall’Italia!


  6. Deke

    I assume the idea is to develop a Sib-style ‘music processor’ that will run with Steinberg’s other products. The big question now is going to be, will it run music composed on Sibelius, and in my case, music written on RiscPC-Sibelius?

    Here’s hoping they don’t run into patent problems with Avid…

  7. Miles Forman

    A a longtime user of Cubase’s Score features, I have been producing professional scores for cabaret artists for a number of years. Whilst the formatting options are not as great, they are workable if you know the workarounds (for example, I always save a duplicate of my finished project and then work on that one exclusively for scoring). I for one would hope that the new scoring program will work as an enhanced replacement for the existing Cubase module, and that it would still interface directly with Cubase and not be a standalone program.

    I would also hope it would be backwards-compatible with all the many scores I have already produced.

    I look forward to further developments!!

  8. jpescado

    I assume this product will have some equivalent of Sibelius’s Photoscore.
    I was considering upgrading to Photoscore Professional but after this news I’d rather wait for this new product.

    I know everyone is probably asking when this program will be available. I didn’t see anything in this interview that suggested when but would be nice to know are we talking months or years?

  9. MichelH

    A frequently asked question is : “Will I be able to open my Sibelius files in a future notation software developed by Steinberg ?”.
    Right now, with the free “Dolet” plug-in installed in Sibelius, files can be exported from Sibelius in the MusicXML format. Files in this format can be imported in numerous music notation program (Finale, Encore, etc…) and garantee a decent transfer of all the musical symbols.
    The new software will certainly import/export in this format, like all the major notation softwares do. So I wouldn’t worry too much.
    PS : the Dolet plug-in is available HERE.

  10. Bill Holab

    I have known Daniel for many years and provided help about some of the arcane details relating to engraving and copying, two very different but vital disciplines to our industry. Besides my personal believe that he is a great leader (who undertook a large amount of responsibility with Sibelius, always with patience and a touch of humor) I think the most encouraging part of this news is that a large company sees the value in hiring a skilled, experienced development team and working on a very difficult project. Our industry is somewhat fragile and we depend on a lot of subtle infrastructure to maintain what we do, and notation software has become one of the cornerstones. I look forward to what Steinberg produces, in large part because I know the people in this team and have a great deal of confidence in their ability to listen, to ask the right questions, and more importantly to ignore suggestions that are, ahem, a little idiosyncratic. The former CEO of MakeMusic once said to me that one of the biggest challenges in creating a notation product was that they had to deal with people like me. It was partially a compliment, partially a realistic appraisal of how difficult this task is. I’m sure this team is up for the challenge.

  11. Pingback: Daniel Spreadbury launches Steinberg notation blog

  12. Sharon Kathleen Johnson

    I’m ready to go to the next level. Noteflight and Piano Roll Composer are free, but they have their drawbacks–I need an interface that plugs into my Cubase software, so everything can be done in one place, from composing to recording to editing to up;oading on the internet.

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