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Topic: Musician Unions Threatens Fines for Recording in Seattle

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  1. #1
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    Musician Unions Threatens Fines for Recording in Seattle

    Film Music Magazine reports:
    "US MUSICIANS UNION THREATENS $50K FINES AGAINST AFM COMPOSERS AND OTHER MEMBERS PARTICIPATING IN SCORES RECORDED IN SEATTLE

    In a Notice to Members, the U.S. Musicians Union (AFM) has threatened fines of up to $50,000 against AFM members who perform services including composing, arranging, orchestrating, copying, and other services related to film and television scores recorded in Seattle after October 1, 2006. The complete text of the AFM "Notice to All Members" is located at http://www.afm.org/public/press/seattle.pdf

    In the Notice, AFM President Tom Lee quotes AFM Bylaw 15 which states:
    "No AFM member may perform services (whether as composer, arranger, copyist, proofreader, instrumentalist, leader, contractor, cutter, editor, or in any other capacity): (1) where the product of the services is intended to result in, or be embodied in, recorded music made outside of the United Sates and Canada and the possessions of either; or (2) for the purpose of producing, editing, or dubbing recorded music except where expressly authorized and covered by a contract with the AFM or when expressly authorized by the AFM."

    ...It is not clear why the AFM has singled out Seattle and whether the AFM will be pursuing charges against composers and other AFM members who record scores in London, Bulgaria, and other parts of Eastern Europe."
    Doyle posted the full report by FMM here.

    This is quite a development. What do you think of this action imposed by the AFM?

  2. #2

    Re: Musician Unions Threatens Fines for Recording in Seattle

    Very instructive.

    I had a good laugh...


    « Globalization for all ! »

    « Except for us. » (‘When we lose the market’, should I add.)


    Typical.

  3. #3

    Re: Musician Unions Threatens Fines for Recording in Seattle

    I'm afraid those horses left years ago and the barn has burned down.

  4. #4

    Re: Musician Unions Threatens Fines for Recording in Seattle

    Looks like now it has finally started to really affect Mr. Lee's paycheck...

  5. #5

    Re: Musician Unions Threatens Fines for Recording in Seattle

    maybe I'm missing something here, but composers are not under the jurisdiction of the union, correct? (They are considered independent contractors and thus are not allowed to unionize). So how can AFM charge any fines for performing a service in which they have no jurisdiction? So what if they are an AFM orchestrator, copyist, etc, composition is a different gig. How can they get away with that?

    edit: just found this in the linked post: "it was unclear how the AFM expected to carry through on threats of fines to AFM members for composing, as the AFM does not regulate, protect, or cover the craft of composing music for film and television. The AFM does cover orchestration, conducting, music prep, and other related areas, and many composers are members of the AFM to collect benefits for the related work they perform in addition to composing."

  6. #6

    Re: Musician Unions Threatens Fines for Recording in Seattle

    Quote Originally Posted by JT3_Jon
    maybe I'm missing something here, but composers are not under the jurisdiction of the union, correct? (They are considered independent contractors and thus are not allowed to unionize). So how can AFM charge any fines for performing a service in which they have no jurisdiction? So what if they are an AFM orchestrator, copyist, etc, composition is a different gig. How can they get away with that?

    edit: just found this in the linked post: "it was unclear how the AFM expected to carry through on threats of fines to AFM members for composing, as the AFM does not regulate, protect, or cover the craft of composing music for film and television. The AFM does cover orchestration, conducting, music prep, and other related areas, and many composers are members of the AFM to collect benefits for the related work they perform in addition to composing."
    Also, my guess is that if a composer in question is a union member (So he can get credit for conducting, and orchestrating, and performing, etc...) and is working on a project as a composer with a low enough of a budget that they have to go to Seattle or overseas to record...they are probably doing their own orchestrations, music prep, etc...to some degree. Those responsibilities are union controlled. That may be the unions way into fining a composer. Just speculation of course.

    I am interested in how this will develop. I don't usually agree with Mark Northam from the film music network...but in this case, I agree that it is the "entry level" composer working on lower budgeted films that will probably be targeted the most here. The big guys have enough of a music budget on their studio films they can afford to record at Todd-AO and pay the hundreds of musicians and support staff their union fees. It is the smaller budgeted films...the "package deals" which force a composer to look elsewhere to record the orchestra so many producers expect.

    Although...the media ventures guys seem to go to London a lot depsite their large budgets.
    Regards,
    Brian W. Ralston

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  7. #7

    Re: Musician Unions Threatens Fines for Recording in Seattle

    Unions. Talk about dinosaurs.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Steve_Karl's Avatar
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    Re: Musician Unions Threatens Fines for Recording in Seattle

    I was a member at 1 time. ( 1970 - 75 or there abouts )
    My one and only and last leagal experience with the AFM was to find out that they only look after the "big guys."
    They don't take care of small claims against people who don't pay the small members.
    The AFM is my opinion, is just a leagilized version of an organized crime syndicate. They are scavangers.

    Someone please tell me 1 good thing they have ever done for the music business?

  9. #9

    Re: Musician Unions Threatens Fines for Recording in Seattle

    Amen.

  10. #10

    Re: Musician Unions Threatens Fines for Recording in Seattle

    A few years ago I had a client who really, really wanted to use a live orchestra for a national TV ad I was scoring. With the budget I had to work with, I really, really tried to find a way to use an orchestra in my region. What does it say about the state of things that we could afford the London Symphony at Abbey Road, but not a decent regional U.S. union orchestra?

    But you know what surprised me the most? When dealing with U.S. union entities, I kept getting the feeling that the most important thing to them was making sure they didn't get screwed. When dealing with LSO I always felt that the most important thing was making sure I was taken care of as a client. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked how they could help, or make things easier - the session would have practically been free.

    I had conversations about it with a few people while we were in London, and those folks at least seemed to feel that working together in cooperation with producers, composers and studios works to everyone's benefit. They seem puzzled by the union attitude here. One musician I spoke with told me that most British players find it better to work 40 hours a week consistently than to insist on the highest rates and restrictive usage terms. (I'd be interested to know if our British forum members agree.)

    This action by AFM, unfortunately, reinforces my earlier perception. And it makes me sad. I think many of our honest, hard working peers will be hurt.

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