Sibelius Software Ltd., maker of the popular Sibelius music notation software, has been acquired by Avid’s pro audio division, Digidesign, maker of Pro Tools. That means Sibelius joins M-Audio in industry-leading products in Digidesign’s portfolio. Here’s the official word from Sibelius co-creator/co-founder Ben Finn:

I’m delighted to inform you that Sibelius Software Ltd has been acquired by Digidesign, the audio division of Avid Technology Inc.

Digidesign has acquired Sibelius because of its strong brand and expertise in music education and its advanced notation technology, not to mention its loyal user base.

Day to day, there will be no major changes to the running of the business ­our existing management team remain in place, and we will continue to develop all our existing products as before. Looking forward, there will be new possibilities for linking Sibelius’s products with both Digidesign’s and M-Audio’s ranges of software and hardware solutions.

Other than that, there’s not much word on what this will actually mean. I’m always a little sad to see an independent company cease to be independent, but M-Audio has flourished under its ownership by Digidesign, and M-Audio employees have told me privately they’ve been able to retain a lot of their independent spirit. The team at Sibelius seem generally enthusiastic about this partnership, and just as Digi’s purchase of M-Audio demonstrated recognition for computer music accessories, the buyout of Sibelius represents real support for music notation products and music education.

The headline below really sums up the major part of the issue here, though, which is marketing reach:

Avid Acquires Sibelius, Expands Reach into Global Education Market [Sibelius Press Release]

What Price Sibelius? TradingMarkets reports the price of the deal at US$23 million. Note that, because Avid is a public corporation (ticker: AVID), you’ll see more information disclosed about factors like Sibelius market share. Sibelius was a private corporation.

The question on everyone’s minds, of course, is what this will mean for the products. “Linking” Sibelius software with Digidesign and M-Audio gear could mean simple bundles (think the G7 guitar product with an M-Audio interface, or the full Sibelius software with Pro Tools). Down the road, it might mean actual integration, like the Sibelius notation engine inside Pro Tools, or in lighter form, in M-Audio’s new entry-level Session product, both of which lack music notation facilities. (In comparison, competition from Logic Pro, Digital Performer, Cubase, and SONAR all have built-in notation features. Logic actually began its life as a notation tool.) Sibelius won’t confirm these possibilities now, of course; even if they would, I’m not sure they yet know.

My hope, of course, is that Digi/Avid follow the model of M-Audio, and keep focusing on products that can be used by everyone, and not just Pro Tools (or Session) users. But so far, there’s no indications otherwise; the primary impact for existing Sibelius users may be a company with greater resources for development.

Here’s the real question: will Sibelius move from England to sunny California? Time will tell. In the meantime, that “A part of Avid” logo sure seems to be showing up in a lot of places these days. (I know where it would fit under the CDM logo. Kidding.)