I. FLASHBACK TIME – 2005 – PART I
II. MEMBER COMMENT I
III. MEMBER COMMENT II –
IV. VIENNA SCORING STAGE REACHES OUT
…Absolutely guaranteed anonymity – Former Musician’s Union officer
…The one voice of reason in a sea of insanity – Nashville ‘first call’
…Allows us to speak our minds without fear of reprisal – L.A. Symphonic musician
…Reporting issues the Musicians Union doesn’t dare to mention – National touring musician
I. FLASHBACK TIME – 2005 – PART I
In 2005, a highly placed group of musicians, frustrated with the
destruction of work in recording, put forward this proposal.
Even then the damage to recording because of the unusable recording
contracts forced down the throats of AFM Members because of the
RMA leadership was losing us major work – and that was almost 11
AS A REMINDER, THIS WAS ALMOST 11 YEARS AGO….
MAY 2, 2005
Recording music for film, TV and video games is a commercial business. While
the music itself is a creative art form utilizing many talents – negotiations with
producers, directors and composers, in addition to the preparation of budgets
and contracts is nothing less than running a business.
Recorded music becomes a product for sale, a commodity. What does the
market demand and what will it bear? How can the musicians who record this
music be fairly compensated, without giving away or compromising their product?
How can their product result in a steady revenue stream while competing in a
global economy that has changed the way we do business forever? These are
the questions we must face and respond to when considering and ultimately
proposing monumental changes to the national AFM Motion Picture Agreement.
The rapid and dramatic decline of motion picture union recording projects in the
U.S. during the last 10 years coincides with a substantial and devastating
increase in recording projects outsourced in non-union environments as well as
foreign unionized countries. The historical pattern of how and why we got to this
point must be reviewed and analyzed. We must then make an organized and
thoughtful effort to recapture and reinvent our recording opportunities by creating
a new business model.
The current longstanding business model – reflected in AFM recording
agreements – has failed to maintain a regular flow of recording opportunities for
the majority of our rank and file recording musicians. The agreements are
outdated and woefully inadequate to compete in today’s global market.
Producers consistently seek a buyout alternative so they can close out their
books once the music is recorded. In addition, many composers confined with
package deals and a restricted budget are forced to go non-union or with a
foreign orchestra “buyout”, rather than face the unknown back-end charges
associated with our current motion picture agreements.
There is a significant financial burden placed on our locals and the AFM due to
policing and enforcing the secondary market issues on these outdated contracts,
not to mention the consuming hours of labor in order to impose compliance.
Money and time would be much better spent on lobbying for more work for our
musicians through federal and state tax incentive legislation.
The complexity of the agreements themselves consistently turn off producers
because they are difficult to read and the terms and conditions challenging to
understand. A more user-friendly and concise agreement is necessary.
We have just witnessed video game recording – a new and explosive opportunity
for recording soundtracks – fly right out of California, where most of the larger
video game companies reside, and go directly to Seattle and London. It is a fact
that only one video game score has been recorded on an AFM contract in the
U.S. since early December 2004, compared with 14 projects recorded last year.
The business model that resulted in the outsourcing of motion picture production
and recording – a process over the last 15 years – is the same model in its
infancy used for video game projects, which are running away at warp speed. It
has taken just four months for this new industry to be almost completely
This broken business model – with new use provisions attached – is driving work
away at an amazingly accelerated speed. This recording work must be recaptured
immediately or we will be lamenting about these runaways for many years to come,
just as we are now looking back at years of motion picture scores being recorded
As long as other viable options (i.e. non-union; buyout agreements in foreign
countries) exist for film producers, the U.S. will never see a substantial amount of
work return to this country without adopting a “buyout” option in our agreements.
A successful business model, offering attractive economic incentives must be
procured to bring back work to our U.S. recording centers and to help foster new
relationships with film producers and composers.
WHAT IS A SUCCESSFUL MODEL
A successful business model takes an idea and converts it into an
economically viable business. It defines how an entity is positioned
in a specific industry and market, and how its value can be maximized
and sustained. A consistent and successful generation of revenue is
related to strategy, economics, operations, finance, innovation and
“The classic business model that has dictated the structure of every
company from General Motors to Microsoft is so at odds with contemporary
economic currents that it must and will disappear. The old principles no
longer work in the new age. Businesses have reached the old model’s limits
with respect to complexity and speed. The real problem is a ruinously
dysfunctional mismatch between today’s business environment and the
classic business model… Quite simply, the wrong model may transform a
company into the vehicle of its own death.” 1
The successful entities of the future need to harness the full potential of
the entire organization in the rapidly changing business environment.
“The world is going to be too tough and competitors too ingenious as companies
are shaken loose from traditional ways of conducting business. The winners
will be the unbridled firms that are responsive to challenges and adroit in both
creating and capturing opportunities.” 1 Consistent ineffectiveness in how we
have been doing business requires new strategies and thoughtful innovation.
HOW DO WE COMPETE?
A sustainable competitive advantage that positions our recording industry in
the market to effectively maintain a steady flow of business, while surviving
against the competition over a long period of time needs to be implemented.
This requires constant reinvention of the terms and conditions of our agreements
and resources, adaptability of ever-changing global market conditions and
the creation of value-added incentives for new and sustained business.
Now is the time to take advantage of favorable economic conditions in the
U.S., when the British pound is strong and the dollar’s purchasing power
is considerably diminished in other countries. In addition to the proposed
changes to the Motion Picture Agreement, there should be continuous lobbying
for taxincentives through federal and state legislation to keep production in this
Foreign governments have been extremely aggressive in this area, in order
to attract U.S. businesses and keep them returning. In some instances, there
are partnerships (government and production company) encouraging foreign
investment in the local economy.
We would prefer to maintain a national agreement that represents ALL recording
musicians, rather than shift to the current and popular idea of negotiating
separate local agreements in individual cities. Now is the opportunity for us
to leverage our negotiating power and lead our recording industry into a
new level of sustainability and prosperity in the U.S.
NEXT TIME – HISTORY
MEMBER COMMENT I -DUPLICITOUS CONDUCT?
Contrary to the initial reasons offered by the Local to sell Vine Street, e.g.
the need of a new roof, electrical upgrades, and the desire for ADA
compliance, the real reason to sell Vine Street appears to be about
having enough money to continue doing business as usual. To get
the referendum passed, the Local spent thousands of dollars of its
resources beyond the the costs of promotional materials and mailings
charged to the “Club”. The Local by their own admission generated
20,000 phone calls encouraging members to vote YES.
What the membership might not know, is that the Union hired a person
by the name of Erick Cruz at the beginning of the referendum process in
October. Erick, who only one month prior, looks to have been an employee
of the same company that was hired by the Local to promote the sale of
Erick Cruz was assigned to help the Election Board and indeed was the
person identified by the Election Board Chair as the person who helped
scan the ballots.
Erick Cruz’s LinkedIn profile identifies his job description at Bridge Street
as “Social Innovation Organizer” and subsequently Local 47 “Campaign
Manager.” Does anyone see a problem with this?
A partisan with his hands all over the ballots? In what universe does the
administration reside in thinking this is appropriate?
An attempt to speak with Erick Cruz on the day of the referendum count
concerning his participation was thwarted by the gruff intentional intrusion
by the Local’s attorney. Not only was the conversation interrupted
but, the attorney physically removed him from member inquiry.
In an event that appears to be related, the Board minutes of 2/16/16
reflect the resignation of a member of the Election Board. As a member
observer at that Executive Board meeting, I can attest to the naming
of Erick Cruz and that certain of Cruz’s actions were disturbing.
[EC: What was the attorney afraid of? More and more questionable
conduct,… and the board says nothing. do ethics mean anything
III. MEMBER COMMENT II
The local put in a formal bid several weeks ago.
I don’t know what that was or whether or not they
received a response yet.
Using the facts that are known and methods of deductive
thinking, 47 has some real challenges going forward.
Acosta stated in this month’s electronic newsletter that
they will not sell the Vine street property until the new
property is secured first. That means that for all practical
purposes they will have to put up some cash as deposit on a
new property to secure it.
So, how much money would it take in deposit to secure a
$10M property, and does 47 have that cash?
I think what really has not been available is full disclosure
to the membership. What I’m not sure about is how much of that
is being deceitful and how much of that is ignorance, It seems
that nobody on that Board knows what to do, let alone just what
is going on.
[EC: According to the record of the 2/9/16 EC Meeting, Acosta
accepted an offer on the Vine Street building (We further heard
that the bid was for 25 Million). We’ve also been told that the
Alameda building is still in play, but no word that it has been
definitely secured. So did he misrepresent the situation to the
membership? If the bid was accepted before a building was
secured, it’s just another example of the President printing
untruths in his articles. and yet the membership just sits idly by.]
IV. VIENNA SCORING STAGE REACHS OUT
…another result of our unusable contracts
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VIENNA SCORING STAGE