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#31
1st December 2012
Old 1st December 2012
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after posting this, I talked to a friend of mine who is in the union and he said some of the guys in the union are trying to organize another union outside of AFM... So it is feasible, I guess.
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#32
1st December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Etch-A-Sketch View Post
after posting this, I talked to a friend of mine who is in the union and he said some of the guys in the union are trying to organize another union outside of AFM... So it is feasible, I guess.
That's awesome. I didn't mean to say that the idea itself was not feasible, just that IATSE involvement would probably not be.
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#33
1st December 2012
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While I agree that a new union would be a step up in the right direction, for those involved in that NEW union, it would be uncharted territory and a career ending, bridge burning experiment with no possibility of "going back" or predicting how it would ultimately turn out. Would enough players leave and join the new union, or would early adopters be left standing by themselves with their pants down around their ankles facing an angry firing squad?

Any brave souls making the plunge would almost certainly terminate their association with Local 47, many fellow players and friends unable or unwilling to turn-coat, and with other associates who depend on 47 for work (Stages, engineers, contractors, producers, studio's, etc.). They would be blacklisted and not allowed to work in Local 47. THAT is a big gamble, and requires almost a desperation before even considering.

Local 47 officials and the top 200 musicians know they they have the rest of the LA musicians by the short hairs if they want to work in Films/TV, and they know they know how to control the game and make the rules for their own best interest. You want in, you play by their rules. End of story. This is why there are so many very talented and frustrated musicians in LA right now. At least that's how it's always been with 47 since I joined. (I still remember the intimidation I felt sitting with bandmates in the Vice Presidents office when I joined close to 30 years ago....almost felt like a meeting with the Godfather...)

Now, if there are enough players who feel that the current union has COMPLETELY deserted them, then it could happen. We get closer to that every day. My guess is that it will happen someday, but it will be too late by then, and recording orchestra's in LA will be all but history.
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1st December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Etch-A-Sketch View Post
after posting this, I talked to a friend of mine who is in the union and he said some of the guys in the union are trying to organize another union outside of AFM... So it is feasible, I guess.
There was an a failed attempt at this a few years ago called New Era Scoring. It gained some traction, using a Beck status these folks worked as Union members on non union gigs. But the union caught wind, busted the sessions, and filed charges against the members. Fines were levied upwards of $15,000 per member... Fun times. Some of these members are still actively working.
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#35
1st December 2012
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I had a conversation with a buddy and fellow 47 union member of long standing tonight. He told me of a face to face meeting he had with the head of the union a few years ago. When asked why the union would not budge on special payments, and do a double up-front payment/buyout similar to London, etc., he was told by the prez of the union that musicians were not capable of managing the extra money up front, so the union was going to keep special payments intact. And now, members who are retiring are getting about 1/4 of what their pension was supposed to be due to mismanagement of pension funds......

The only hope in this is to get union management out of office, and new blood in.
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#36
2nd December 2012
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I've heard that before. It seems so outrageous that it can't be true. But after reading the president of the Unions latest remarks about the possibility of buy outs, I am starting to believe that the union is a culture of extreme foolishness.
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#37
3rd December 2012
Old 3rd December 2012
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Full disclosure - I'm not current with my dues...That being said, when my day job was being a Professional Composer I was very grateful to have Local 47. At a relatively young age the Union played an invaluable role in securing me serious money for my compositions. Does the Union need to adapt to a changing landscape? Of course. Would some new blood in Senior Management be a good thing? Certainly. But if you think as a Professional Musician you'd be better off without a Union, that, "Unions are destroying businesses," then it's time to change the dial on your Radio.
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#38
3rd December 2012
Old 3rd December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nathand View Post
But if you think as a Professional Musician you'd be better off without a Union, that, "Unions are destroying businesses," then it's time to change the dial on your Radio.
Nathan, your point is taken. But it's not an all or nothing proposition. I don't think that any of the musicians want "no unions". I think we just want one that is not partisan to the upper 2% at the cost of the 98%, and one that will fairly bargain and represent musicians as a whole, that will bargain in good faith to get work back INTO LA. That's not happening. Not even close. And IMO, it hasn't happened in the last 20-30 years in LA.

Given it's current course of action, if they stay the course, Local47 will once and for all tank LA musicians.
#39
3rd December 2012
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I wish studios had a union. On some of the sessions, where we are forced to match prices with one of our long-standing competitors that is low-balling the shit out of us, we as a studio are making close to what a single Union musician gets per hour, minus the SP and health and welfare.

...Paraphrasing begins here:

The consensus among the composers and producers that I have talked to is: "look folks, time to get real. The ship is sailing. It's 2012, not 1952. Please, please give us an AFM contract that we can actually sign.

We can, and we are, simply going to London and we get the same quality product as we get here, so please give us a reason to buy your product. Because, in the end, we would rather stay here to score, it's the Union that is driving us away.

We are tired of fighting to stay here, and becoming frustrated at the lack of response to our needs as a customer of the union. Listen to us and respond. Please stop publicly belittling us and ignoring our requests.

We are sold on the AFM Hollywood scoring community as a quality product, but we simply cannot score here because:

-There is no option to record film scores here without Special Payments.
-There is no viable interactive video (gaming) contract.
-There is NO library contract.
-There is NO sampling contract."

...End of paraphrasing...

I wish the Union would look at it like a businessman would look at it. The product is great, the location is superb, the price is competitive.

So why are we losing so much business to our competitor, London, that has a similar product, but a terrible location?

Why are we losing business to our competitors that have a lesser product (Bratislava, Macedonia, Prague, etc) and terrible location?

Why don't we have contracts for huge, incredibly lucrative sections of the market, like library music?

-
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#40
3rd December 2012
Old 3rd December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nathand View Post
Full disclosure - I'm not current with my dues...That being said, when my day job was being a Professional Composer I was very grateful to have Local 47. At a relatively young age the Union played an invaluable role in securing me serious money for my compositions. Does the Union need to adapt to a changing landscape? Of course. Would some new blood in Senior Management be a good thing? Certainly. But if you think as a Professional Musician you'd be better off without a Union, that, "Unions are destroying businesses," then it's time to change the dial on your Radio.
I'm a paid up AFM member, and have been for over 20 years, since 1990, when I joined Milwaukee Local #8 as an undergrad musician when I was doing a lot of Union work in the Midwest. I believe in Unions deeply.

I am disappointed in the AFM because it is failing to protect its members. The AFM is actively turning away from the realities of the WorldWide Economy. We are not competing against "dark dates" here in L.A. anymore. We are competing against musicians in London, Prague, Bratislava, Nashville, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Atlanta, Macedonia, China.
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#41
3rd December 2012
Old 3rd December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Curtis View Post
I'm a paid up AFM member, and have been for over 20 years, since 1990, when I joined Milwaukee Local #8 as an undergrad musician when I was doing a lot of Union work in the Midwest. I believe in Unions deeply.

I am disappointed in the AFM because it is failing to protect its members. The AFM is actively turning away from the realities of the WorldWide Economy. We are not competing against "dark dates" here in L.A. anymore. We are competing against musicians in London, Prague, Bratislava, Nashville, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Atlanta, Macedonia, China.
I disclosed my "member-status" earlier is so readers could measure my comments based on the amount of skin i have in the game - currently, none.

The reason I entered this discussion is because my hope is that those who do have "skin in the game" will put their efforts towards changing the position of AFM as opposed to advocating for a "non-union" future.

I'd imagine what Senior Management is afraid of (again i have never had a seat at that table) is over-compensating and agreeing to a deal that would end the dream of being able to own a home, send kids to college, vacation twice a year and retire at 65 for playing Clarinet. That's a tough pill to swallow because it has been a reality for a select few. When i came up it was common knowledge that "making-it" was a crap shoot. That the odds were extremely stacked against breaking-in. Those that did were lucky so you better have a "back-up" plan. Being good meant very little. Being good is a given and does not in any way make you deserving of a career as a studio musician.

The "realities of the WorldWide Economy" and the end of Special Payments, for example, would dramatically change what a musician coming-up should expect out of a career in music if they are lucky enough to be one of the few who make it. Perhaps that time has come. Are we at a "something is better than nothing" crossroads? Dr Bill and Greg no better than me.
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#42
3rd December 2012
Old 3rd December 2012
  #42
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Special Payment retroactive would continue to give the gift that keeps on giving. But if NEW sessions continue to spiral down, that gift is going to wither and die. Compromise is where it's at, and the musicians that I know would rather work 200 days a year with no special payments than 10 days with special payments. Ultimately, I think they are better off with the former rather than latter. Of course, the head of Local47 does not believe that they can handle that extra money, so 47 will make the decision FOR them.

From what I've seen, not ONE person is lobbying for NO union. Just for reform that will allow them to work, and bring more work to the table. What's bad about that? Nothing unless you are in the 2% who desperately want to protect special payments as they are on the edge of retirement anyway......

I say open it up to let the members work.
#43
3rd December 2012
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From the meeting:

If the AFM stays the course it will be the end of scoring in Hollywood. Forever.



What I think: Yes, if we have another year like last, 2 of the big 3 stages will fall.

All Gaming and all library work will go away (like it nearly already has).

Please consider the library work we are currently locked out of. These guys need hours of new music every month. These are my only clients that arrive in Ferraris and 6-figure cars. They are rolling in lucrative work. Yet there is no contract available for them, so the MUST go out of town to score, even though they hate it.

Greg

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#44
3rd December 2012
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So the question seems to be...

Do the majority of the musicians in the Local 47 want to opt for a less lucrative contract?

If the majority want to hold tight to what they have, that is their prerogative, although it seems tantamount to shooting ones self in the foot.

PS. 2nd question: what is the optimal price point so that the musicians can maximize their revenues?
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#45
3rd December 2012
Old 3rd December 2012
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What a wonderful presentation! I'd like to make a few comments as a concerned outsider:

First off there is no flood of non-union scoring work that I'm aware of here in Nashville! Don't we wish...

Second, Hollywood's greatest strength is its ability to meet tight deadlines with stellar quality. Nobody in the world can come close simply because the depth of LA's talent pool is unmatched. Projects that go out of town are the ones having loose deadlines. My understanding has always been that scoring is the very last step in post production. This means it eats all of the previous delays. Has this changed over the past few years?

Third, music engineers did have unions up until the 1970s and our wages haven't risen a dime since they went away. Unions are the only reason we don't all get paid minimum wage because the stars are ready to walk off with every penny we don't make due to their negotiating position. It isn't like the producer is going to end up with more money. There's a whole lot of ego and not much substance involved in "saving money" on a production. The one exception to this are composers who are paid a flat rate including musician costs but there's an argument to be made that they should be charging more.

Games are obviously a different story due to the lack of star talent but again paying top dollar for scoring is a drop in the bucket compared to the advertising and promotion budgets involved.

Certainly the union contract could be restructured but the union has a pretty darned good negotiating position.
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#46
4th December 2012
Old 4th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
First off there is no flood of non-union scoring work that I'm aware of here in Nashville! Don't we wish...
Bob, thanks for the thoughts, nice. Just one clarification though. We're not talking about NON union work outside LA. We're talking about UNION work outside LA that does not have the special payments tied to it that LA's Local 47 does have. That is what is making LA a non-option in the current business climate.
#47
4th December 2012
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I'll ask. I understood we are under the same national contract.

Tennessee is a right to "work," i.e. get screwed state and I have visited occasional non-union string dates. Our new union leaders were part of the recording musicians' uprising a couple years ago.
#48
4th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
I'll ask. I understood we are under the same national contract.

Tennessee is a right to "work," i.e. get screwed state and I have visited occasional non-union string dates. Our new union leaders were part of the recording musicians' uprising a couple years ago.
Check this out:

BizJournals:NashvilleTeamsWithSonyGamingNon-Union

"For Umstead, the decision was simple: When PlayStation came knocking, even amid threats of thousands of dollars in fines and black lists by his union, he quit the organization and began to play.
“When people these days are having trouble making their mortgage payments and losing their homes and there’s this potential for a huge amount of work and it’s good-paying work … everybody has to take a hard look at that and say who am I protecting here?” he said."

“There’s two real key things that came out of all this: We’ve proven to the world that between the orchestra and the studios, we can do the work. And the other thing is, we’ve proven that we can do both union and non-union work in Nashville and both of those are huge,” McMakin said.

Union agreements that required equal pay regardless of location left that type of work to studios on the West Coast, where many of the video gaming companies are based.
But when negotiations between PlayStation and the American Federation of Musicians broke down a few years ago — Sony insisted on owning all future rights to the music — the video game maker began shopping around for other places to make its music. On its list of places to try? Prague, Moscow, London and, eventually, Nashville."


NashvilleStudioOrchestra.com

Union players are quitting the Union there in order to work. Upside-down world, or what?

Greg

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#49
4th December 2012
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It's worth noting that Sony music publishing has a massive operation here so it isn't exactly an out of town client. It's also worth noting that folks creating game music have frequently gotten royally screwed in the past. I was shocked by what I saw going down in San Francisco during the '90s.
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4th December 2012
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#51
4th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toneguru View Post
So the question seems to be...

Do the majority of the musicians in the Local 47 want to opt for a less lucrative contract?

If the majority want to hold tight to what they have, that is their prerogative, although it seems tantamount to shooting ones self in the foot.

PS. 2nd question: what is the optimal price point so that the musicians can maximize their revenues?
I think that the consensus among the composers and their agent was that the musicians would get paid MORE or MUCH MORE up front, and forego the Special Payments ("residuals," or "back-end"). This would align them with their competition, suddenly make them marketable, and allow more work to be done in Los Angeles, according to the panel... It's all about selling the product of "Scoring in Hollywood!"

I think the optimal price point would be slightly higher or simply higher than London rates.
#52
4th December 2012
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Originally Posted by Greg Curtis View Post
I think the optimal price point would be slightly higher or simply higher than London rates.
I've been told that London is a day rate. If that's true it needs to be part of the calculation. I also understand that only London has comparable concert masters to those in Los Angeles.
#53
4th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
I've been told that London is a day rate. If that's true it needs to be part of the calculation. I also understand that only London has comparable concert masters to those in Los Angeles.
We always work with 3-hour minimums. I suppose a day rate could be figured as a triple (3 3-hour sessions).

From what I have been hearing, the musicians are highly comparable. And as more sessions are done there, familiarity breeds a favorable preference.

I know a great engineer/editor that worked on the original Lord of The Rings trilogy in London. He often tells the stories of how they always program the tougher brass cues for the morning, before the lunchtime beer-swilling soirée.

GC
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#54
5th December 2012
Old 5th December 2012
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Since this conversation has turned towards unions, I'd love to hear from the post guys how it works with producers going NON-union in Eastern Europe and bringing the product back to be re-recorded with union houses in Hollywood. How does that work? I thought unions were supposed to stand up and support each other. This is a serious question and not meant to start a flame war. I'd just like to know how they can do it when everyone knows the music was non-union.
#56
9th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
I've been told that London is a day rate. If that's true it needs to be part of the calculation. I also understand that only London has comparable concert masters to those in Los Angeles.
London is an hourly rate with full buy out for theatrical, reuse is only on non-theatrical uses like say a car commercial that uses the score - but this has no impact on the producers P/L on the film itself - which is the issue in LA with the AFM.

If they can work it out in London, they can work it out LA (hopefully).
#57
9th December 2012
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I thought the main point of contention is back-end payments for games rather than films.
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9th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
I thought the main point of contention is back-end payments for games rather than films.
I think film producers would want parity on that issue, can't imagine it will help keep sessions in LA if it's not addressed. The London union rules seem fair for all parties and the US based AFM would do well to learn from them.

All things being equal, a lot more US originating productions would score in LA if Hollywood producers got the same terms in LA as they get in London. Note the graph above is for film sessions - I assume that's not a blanket term, but actually represents theatrical film scores.
#59
9th December 2012
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I don't think London is the real competition for film. If there's time to go to London, there's time to go to lots cheaper places than London.

Scoring is lots more of a crunch-time activity in film than it is for games.
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#60
9th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
I don't think London is the real competition for film. If there's time to go to London, there's time to go to lots cheaper places than London.

Scoring is lots more of a crunch-time activity in film than it is for games.
And yet, for the big features, it's London all the way. Only the ultra tight budget films head for eastern EU.

For features, it's not so much about "cheaper" as it is about "buyout". If LA solved the back end payments nightmare, a huge percentage of those films would stay in LA. The producers are in LA, the directors are in LA, the film studio's are in LA, the audio post is in LA. Why go anywhere else other than to shave off the back end special payments? All those exec's traveling overseas away from their business, away from their families, away from meetings, etc. makes it PAINFULLY obvious that special payments is the real dealbreaker here. Solve that and work can come back home.....

To REALLY get the musicians working again, have a tiered set of scales for bigger, medium and budget films that actually WORKS for producers.
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