I was recently in a music technology lab at a local university. This lab had fifteen computers with MIDI keyboards and Finale installed. About half of these computers had Sibelius installed as well. At least 75% of these computers were sending back “registration code expired” messages, even though the university technical staff assured us that the licenses were up to date.
While trying to solve these problems, I went online and started pricing these two programs (Finale and Sibelius). The retail price for Finale is currently $600, and Sibelius is priced at $329. Even though I own Finale, upgrading to Finale 2006 will soak me for $169.
The projects being done in this lab included simple note entry, formatting, saving, putting in instrument names and titles–the musical equivalent of writing a term paper in Microsoft Word.
Free open source solutions are now available for such a variety of daily tasks, and I am waiting anxiously for an open source music notation software. It is ridiculous to have to buy a program like Finale or Sibelius to do note entry. Consider all of the open source programs that now replace proprietary software:
Microsoft Word —-> Open Office or Google Docs and Spreadsheets
Microsoft Excel —-> Open Office or Google Docs and Spreadsheets
Adobe Photoshop –> Google Picassa
Adobe Audition—-> Audacity
Sony Acid———-> Audacity
Sony Soundforge—> Audacity
If one needs a more powerful product, one can always buy programs like Adobe Audition, Soundforge, Photoshop, MS Office, etc. But if one simply needs to perform basic tasks, there is an open source solution for many programs people normally use these days.
There is not, however, an acceptable robust music notation program. Hopefully one will be developed, and sooner rather than later.
There will always be a demand for professional applications like Finale and Sibelius. But to leave a school/lab/student/teacher no choice but to buy this licensed software for simple tasks is not a good thing. It is interesting to see that, while all of these computers in this particular lab had Finale and Sibelius on them, the only multi-track audio editor on them was the open source program Audacity.