New version of Sibelius First is available


Avid last week released a new version of Sibelius First, its entry-level edition of its Sibelius music composition software geared towards students, beginners, and other users who may not need the more advanced features found in Sibelius.

The Quick Start screen in Sibelius First
The Quick Start screen in Sibelius First

The new version of Sibelius First is built on the current Sibelius 8 code. In a post on Avid’s official blog, Senior product manager Sam Butler said, “Our developers have been working hard on unifying the Sibelius applications and solutions. Previously, the apps all had varying degrees of separation from Sibelius, and their own build jobs, meaning we couldn’t update them all without reapplying and replicating the work multiple times.”

Now, Sam said, “These are no longer applications with their own roadmaps, source control streams, and build jobs. These applications—as well as our License Server, Avid Scorch for iOS, and the iOS SDK (which allows anyone to build their very own iPad app to handle native Sibelius files)—are now all on the same roadmap, and share the same code and build jobs.”

Further, Sam continued, “Our applications are now unified, which means that once we add features to the main version of Sibelius and kick off a new build, all of our related apps are built all at the same time with support for the new feature we will have just added, without having to write any more lines of code. This gives us the flexibility to quickly release new versions of all our apps, or just one or two, depending on how suitable the feature is. You’ll soon see new versions of Sibelius | First and Sibelius Cloud Publishing, which will complete this transition.”

In a separate post, product designer Joe Pearson gave an overview of what’s new in Sibelius First compared to the last version, which dates back several years (follow links to posts on this blog where the feature was covered in a review of the full edition of Sibelius):

Joe also gave a summary of some of the features introduced in Sibelius in the last few years that are not included in Sibelius First:

  • Annotation – files containing annotations opened, but you can’t add your own annotations
  • Timeline – this is not included in Sibelius First
  • Respell accidentals in parts – scores from Sibelius will open with differences in parts, however it’s not possible to respell an accidental in Sibelius | First without it updating the full score too
  • Multiple staff sizes – You can choose from the four staff sizes in the Instruments dialog, but as there’s no Engraving Rules in Sibelius First, it’s not possible to customize these sizes
  • Rests avoid notes – on by default in Sibelius First, but again cannot be customized since there is no Engraving Rules dialog

A full comparison of the features in Sibelius and Sibelius First is available at Avid’s web site. One curious item: Exporting audio as an MP3 is supported in Sibelius, but not supported in Sibelius First; only WAV and AIFF audio files can be exported in Sibelius First. If anything, one would think that the users of Sibelius First would be more likely to need the more consumer-friendly MP3 format.


When asked about the reason for this, Sam Butler told me, “We would still have to pay the MP3 licensing for each copy of Sibelius First we sell, including upgrades. However, the MP3 licensing fees are going away next year, so we can reconsider adding this feature to Sibelius First then.”

Pricing and availability

Sibelius First is available now. A license allows for use on up to two computers by the same individual. On Windows, Sibelius First will run on 64-bit Windows 7 (SP1 or later), Windows 8.1; on Mac, it will run on 10.9 or higher.

Like Sibelius, Avid is making Sibelius First available in both subscription and “perpetual” licenses:

  • Subscription: $60/year or $6 month-to-month; the software will only run if your subscription is active
  • Perpetual: $119; the software never expires; includes one year of support and updates
  • Upgrade (perpetual): $39 for current users of any previous version of Sibelius | First, Student, Instrumental Teacher Edition, or G7; includes one year of support and updates (upgrade offer expires December 31, 2016)

In addition, a $179 trade-up offer to the full version of Sibelius is available for educational users who already own Sibelius First, Sibelius Student, G7 or Instrumental Teacher Edition. It’s a full perpetual license of Sibelius and comes with a year of upgrades.

Sibelius First can be purchased directly from Avid, or from resellers like Amazon. A 30-day free trial is available.


  1. Bob Zawalich

    Thanks for this notice, Philip – there is nothing on the tech support forum about it yet, so you have made a scoop!

  2. Ric Mauré

    Any chance of an Android app?

  3. Thorsten Wollmann

    I would be Interested in the educational trade up offer from Sibelius First for $179, that you mentioned. However, the link you provided leads only to more expensive offers?

    1. Philip Rothman

      Thorsten: I was told by Avid that the $179 would be available as described, but it wasn’t yet available in the store. If I receive an update that it becomes available, I’ll post further here.

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