Avid to change Sibelius pricing on July 1, 2019


Today Avid sent an e-mail to its customers announcing price adjustments to all of its software products as of July 1, 2019. Perpetual and subscriptions will continue to be offered under the new pricing structure. As far as Sibelius is concerned, Sibelius senior product manager Sam Butler said, “On the whole, most of the changes are affecting our mid-tier Sibelius product, and not Sibelius Ultimate, nor our educational product offerings for either individual students, teachers or schools.”

Put another way, the main aim for the price adjustment is to better align the mid-tier Sibelius subscriptions to match the educational offering. This way, a student can get all the Sibelius Ultimate features for the price of the mid-tier version of Sibelius.

Still, there are a few changes.

Breaking down the changes

The myriad of price offerings for Sibelius can seem more confusing than the price variations on a new car. Moreover, right now and through June 30, 2019, a sale is on offer for upgrades to Sibelius at 50% off of the usual price of subscriptions, although with today’s announcement it appears that the sale may be extended indefinitely.

First, let’s review the difference between perpetual license or subscription, shall we?

  • Perpetual: Similar to a more traditional software license, this allows you to use Sibelius for as long as your computer hardware and operating system will allow it. You also get free updates and support for a limited time (one or three years depending on your purchase) after which you pay an an annual fee to continue receiving updates and support. If you don’t pay the annual fee, your software will still work, but you won’t get any more updates.
  • Subscription: Similar to what you might pay now for a streaming music service or a utility. You pay monthly or annual depending upon your plan, and you get software updates and support as long as you’re an active subscriber. If you stop paying, the software stops working (in the case of Sibelius, you can still open, read, and play back your files, but you can’t meaningfully edit them, print them, or export them).

Let’s sort through the various options you have, depending upon whether you are a current or lapsed user, and whether you wish to purchase a perpetual license or subscription. This chart only refers to Sibelius Ultimate, the top tier of the Sibelius offerings; for information on the mid-tier Sibelius product and for more explanation in general about the changes, see Sam Butler’s post on the Facebook forum or this PDF provided directly by Sam.

Sibelius Ultimate old and new pricing

ProductCurrent PriceSale Price through June 30New Price as of July 1% Change from Current Price
Perpetual License Purchases and Upgrades
Retail - new user (includes 1 year of updates)$599.00n/a$599.000%
Upgrade (1 year of updates)$299.00$149.00$149.00-50%
Upgrade (3 years of updates)$399.00$249.00$249.00-38%
Competitive crossgrade (1 year of updates)$199.00n/a$199.000%
Teacher/student upgrade (1 year of updates)$89.00n/a$99.0011%
Additional year of updates$89.00n/a$99.0011%
Additional 3 years of updates$199.00n/a$199.000%
Annual (per year, paid annually in advance)n/an/a$199.00n/a
Annual (per year, paid monthly)$19.92n/a$19.990%
Monthly (per month)$24.99n/a$27.9912%
Annual competitive crossgrade (per month)$9.99n/a$9.990%
Crossgrade from Perpetual to Subscription
Annual (per year, paid annually in advance)*n/an/a$79.00n/a
Annual (per year, paid monthly)*n/an/a$7.99n/a

*Two caveats on the change from perpetual to subscription: 1) you surrender your perpetual license, and 2) the $79/year or $7.99/mo fee is only good for two years, after that they revert to the regular prices of $199/year or $19.99/month.


Here’s what we know:

You can renew the upgrade and support plan on your perpetual license prior to its expiration date. This will simply extend the end of your current plan another year. If you do this before the price goes up on July 1, 2019, you’ll be able to do so at the lower price.

Likewise, if you currently subscribe to Sibelius or Sibelius Ultimate and have “Auto-renew” turned on in your account, then you’ll continue to enjoy the old price. However, if you let this subscription lapse, you can start a new subscription at the new prices.

If you crossgrade from a perpetual license to a subscription, you surrender your perpetual license. (I can’t think of any good reason to do this; see more below).

Bottom line

For existing users of Sibelius Ultimate, not much is changing. There are some slight increases to certain plans but year-over-year it’s about what the cost of inflation was since the new pricing schemes were unveiled in 2015. Depending on your circumstance you’ll see your annual cost increase anywhere from 0%-12% over last year.

I know that there will be some loyal readers who will shudder at the thought of any software being offered on a subscription basis. I’ve been giving that subject a lot of thought lately, and may publish a separate article sometime that discusses the topic more thoroughly in light of the modern era of constant software and OS updates.

For now, readers who use Sibelius Ultimate have a couple of weeks to study the changes as well as the current sale and see which of the options make the most economic sense for their particular situation.

Here’s my take, although your specific case may vary:

  • If you have Sibelius 1 through 7.5, or if you have a perpetual license to 8.0 or later and have allowed your upgrade plan to lapse, take advantage of the current sale before it expires (if it expires). You’ll retain a perpetual license and get current with updates. Especially with upcoming changes to macOS and Windows, you’ll want to make sure you’re current with Sibelius, and you might find yourself surprisingly pleased with the new features since Sibelius 8.0.
  • If you are current with a perpetual license and want to stay current, the best option is to continue with the annual plan which will be $99/year for updates and support. It is not worth the $20/year annual savings on the crossgrade to surrender your perpetual license, and in the long term you’ll end up paying significantly more after the annual subscription jumps from $79/year to $199/year after two years. Indeed, the best option, if you reasonably expect to be using Sibelius for at least the next two years, is to do a 3-year renewal at the unchanged $199 price. You’re basically getting 3 years of updates for the price of 2.
  • If you are already on a subscription, continue with a subscription. While you could get a perpetual license and pay less for updates, it would take you five years to break even, and at that point, who knows what the options will be.
  • If you’re a new Sibelius user who has never used another notation product, you’re more or less in the same boat with current subscribers. The best option is probably a subscription. Yes, in the long-term you’ll end up paying more, but you’ll have the flexibility of canceling if you decide Sibelius doesn’t suit you.
  • However, if you’re crossgrading from Finale, Notion, Encore or Mosaic, the calculus changes. You can get a perpetual license for only $199, which includes one year of updates and support, and future updates are only $99/year. In this case, the break-even compared to a subscription is less than two years. If you like the idea of the software always working (at least as long as your computer and OS support it), consider a competitive crossgrade to a perpetual license if you’re eligible. Even if you don’t own a competing product, you could purchase Notion for $150, get the perpetual Sibelius license for $199, and break even over the cost of the subscription after less than three years.


  1. Troubadixderdritte

    For several years now, the updates Avid offers are concerning licence management and pricing. … oh I forgot, they renewed the code base what caused nearly constant crashes and playback problems. I don‘t have the impression they have and ödes of where notation should go. Maybe it‘s time for a switch to Dorico

  2. francois grillot

    i thought your headline was “avoid to change Sibelius….. ” wasn’t I happy fora second!

  3. Bill

    I notice that Avid Link give incorrect info about my account, saying that I have a perpetual license, when in fact I have a subscription license. My info is correct on the Avid website.

  4. Lu

    I just want simplicity. I can do all that I need with the current version I have (8.4) along with NotePerformer 3. If it’s not broke, no need to fix. Here’s my question to you as a super user, Philip: What is missing in Sibelius? What would you like it to do that it doesn’t do? Or what would you like it to do better that it already does well? Can you get the job done now that you need Sibelius to do? Is there a program currently that can do what Sibelius does but better (in whatever terms you may define better)? OK. That’s more than one question. :-) I suppose some of the questions can be merged.

    1. Philip Rothman

      Ha! Well, I will try to answer those questions in due course through various Scoring Notes posts. In the meantime, see this post, Eight since 8, where I run through some of my favorite new features in Sibelius. Other programs have some of these, too. If you’re still on 8.4 you might consider upgrading. Multi-edits in particular save a ton of time.

  5. Ilkay Bora Oder

    I don’t want to be hursh or attack to the Avid. And I think it is fair 10 dollars of augmentation in 4 years (Talking about one year support plan). Btw, These guys are absolutely not stupid! They are masters of marketing strategy. So, if they decide to remove perpetual licence users slow by slow in 10 years? i truly believe there is a well reason. Because having an updated perpetual licence means you have constantly %50 discount of crossgrading options for other softwares. And if you also add Cyber Friday discounts, a software which costs 600 dollars can be cost less than 250. And one of them can be a real game changer in a few years since it has a genius level code writers. (I think we are aware of which one i’m talking about) So i believe their mainly aim is removing this possibility from users.

  6. Grant

    I know this is an older thread, but I’ve contacted Sibelius and they no longer offer perpetual license upgrades. It went into effect from January 2020, so the new pricing from the previous 6 months of this article are now obsolete. Does anyone know if they may bring back upgrades for perpetual licenses? I’m not interested in the subscription model.

    1. Philip Rothman

      Hi Grant. You’re correct. We’ve left this article as-is for historical reference. We mentioned the change in our January 2020 review (near the end of the article). Our view continues to be that Avid should offer perpetual license upgrades, but it doesn’t seem likely at the moment.

      1. Grant

        Hi Philip, thanks for the response. I missed the January review so was caught out on that. Agreed that perpetual licenses should still be offered. Hopefully they come around soon!

  7. Ted(tai) Youn

    I tried to activate my Sibelius First for the first time even though I bought this software pretty long time ago. I am the genuine buyer.
    I receive following response even though my computer is connected to internet
    “The activation server could not be reached . Please ensure that the this computer is connected to the internet.”

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