Archive for August, 2018


Friday, August 10th, 2018








I. ACOSTA / LOCAL 47: The “DICK MOVE” edition.

We’ve been hearing from quite a few members and non-dues paying,

fi-core musicians of late. The local and Acosta couldn’t be doing a

better job of alienating musicians if they were trying….


1) A member recently missed paying their dues by ONE day

(Touring), and was told by the Local’s employee that they’re

happy to re-instate their membership for an approx. $80 penalty!


Dues are $210 annually and they want to defraud members,

some DECADES LONG members of almost 40% of the dues

because they’re one day late.


When asked “how do you get off doing that.” The employee

said, “It’s policy”.


It’s the Acosta / local 47 DICK MOVE way.

As a reminder, they used that same pablum on former 38-year

member and now fi-core musician Charles Fernandez, when

they not only refused to refund his yearly dues when he left

less than a month into new year but also forced him to pay an

additional $175 for “fi-core” dues. He too was told “It’s Policy”.

Well, they lied, there was no such policy, and the Local was

forced to refund his $210 annual dues.


Something tells us that if this happens to you, and you search f

or the proof of their near 40% penalty policy you’ll find none.


Don’t take it laying down. Fight and get your money back. They

do not deserve it.





Yet another session, this one at Warner Brothers for a large orchestra got an unexpected visitor. The session was nonunion, as were the musicians, so it was none of the Local’s business.  The music on this session, creating work for some 70 musicians, would have never been union.

VP Rick Baptist showed up,… two hours after the session was over, harassed the engineer and threatened the studio for taking the work.

Hopefully, the studio told him where he can stick his complaint. Even for the studios, union work doesn’t pay the bills anymore. BUt the RMA / ACOSTA / LOCAL 47 CABAL doesn’t care.






There’s very little union work left, so musicians, needing

to work and tired of the lip service and uselessness of the

Local are working together to create work the union has

lost or caused to leave, and in most cases work that would

never be union regardless.

One of the contractors who has been targeted doesn’t hire union players against their will, and hires non-union or fi-core musicians, so the local is totally impotent to do anything EXCEPT go after union musicians (some board members by the way) they might find who are doing the work to pay their bills. Any amount of your dues they use to go after musicians they cannot charge is simply being pissed away for no useful purpose.

As if you need reminding, it is virtually impossible to make a living doing solely union work unless you’re in the LA Phil, so everyone is doing non-union work.

Using your own dues to go against the only work you have? That’s the John Acosta / Local 47 DICK MOVE way! Even with the board members doing that same work… Hypocrites of the first order.




We’ve heard from two different musicians who contacted the union to try to make some nonunion productions union. Imagine that, actually trying to bring dues and pension (Whatever it’s still worth) and H and W INTO the union.

Their reward? Because they are fi-core musicians, Michael Ackney of the live music department would not tell them the scales they needed to reference and would not assist in any way. The excuse? POLICY. A DICK MOVE against contractors and the musicians they might hire.

Well unfortunately for the Local, what Ackney did is specifically against labor law. It is illegal to refuse such information to financial core musicians. When confronted with that fact, Michael Ackney said, All together now, “IT’S POLICY”, but agreed to answer ONE question.

Of course it’s NOT policy and Mr. Ackney should remember that before he starts making up arbitrary and discriminatory rules again.”

He needs to check labor law. Any musician, Member or Fi-Core, is legally entitled to any info they need. Every Fi-Core member pays $180 in dues to the union, therefore they are paying for access to that information. Don’t help them and you‘re breaking federal law Michael.

But can you believe they work to make it impossible to make non-union work union? Acosta’s DICK MOVE way indeed.



Recently, a local orchestra was paying OVER scale to their musicians, but wanted nothing to do with the union. The union found out and threatened them into signing a contract with the Local.

The upswing? The Local forced the orchestra to LOWER the payments to the musicians to match the scale. Lookin’ out for you? In a pig’s eye.



Ever read in the local paper about the union getting a, say, 3%

pay raise for a CBA orchestra and patting themselves on the back profusely for their effort?

Well there’s only one problem with that. In at least one case, the forced pay raise resulted in a reduction in the number of rehearsals, causing in effect a pay cut for the musicians. In one case, the orchestra now has only one rehearsal per concert.

The Local working hard to make your life more difficult.





The AFM is apparently now going to charge an additional 10% to employers to try to make up for the incompetent AFM / trustees screw-ups with our pension. Can’t you just see the employers bailing on union sessions for places unknown to record and save being grifted out of money to cover for the trustees mistakes and AFM mismanagement? A DICK MOVE against employers. And who’ll pay the price?

One guess.



How long will you be played for fools, Local 47 members? They do not deserve your money or your support.

Don’t get us wrong, we fully support GOOD, HONEST UNIONS. A union, however, must deserve their members support. This Local most certainly does not.


[Thanks RMALA and AFM Sychophants]
Nashville is making a major play for film and TV scoring work that, for economic and political reasons, has typically been going overseas. New legislation in Tennessee, which took effect July 1, is designed to attract that work, and some say it’s already having an impact.

When it comes to music for major studio films, most composers’ first choice is to record in Los Angeles and London. But independent films with smaller budgets and video-game producers tasked with creating many hours of gameplay music, two sectors that have been unable to strike a deal with American musicians’ union officials, have been taking their business elsewhere and making a show of it.

Tennessee state officials recently made a pilgrimage to L.A. to pitch the country-music capital as an American alternative. The state’s Visual Content Modernization Act, passed in May and signed by Gov. Bill Haslam, contains provisions for recording music in the state regardless of where the project originated. The idea, Tennessee
Entertainment Commission executive director Bob Raines says, is a cash rebate for producers, likely to be 25% (details are still being worked out). So a project that spends $100,000 on recording can expect $25,000 back — a substantial savings.

“It closes the gap in costs between Eastern Europe and other places,” says Steve Schnur, worldwide executive and president of music for video-game company Electronic Arts, which frequently records in Nashville. “London and L.A. are comparatively expensive. In Eastern Europe, it’s less quality but comparatively cheaper. Nashville has some of the best musicians in the world, and because of the composers who are going there regularly, the quality bar has gone up.”

While cities like Prague; Budapest; Bratislava, Slovakia; Skopje, Macedonia; and, more recently, Vienna have become attractive alternatives to higher-priced recording locations, Nashville is now out to replace them. The History miniseries “Texas Rising” was recorded there; so was music for TV’s “Fargo” and “Outlander” series. Several “Call of Duty” games and one “Star Wars” game recorded in Nashville, as did the movies “Show Dogs,” “Mother’s Day,” “The Star” and “Acrimony.” Says Jeff Russo, an Emmy winner for his “Fargo” music: “I loved working there. It’s a different feel from anywhere else in the world, and it certainly feels like making records.”

Austin Wintory, who used a Nashville orchestra for the game “Abzu,” says: “We were all just blown away at the caliber of musicianship. One of the nagging problems of recording in Eastern Europe is, even when the orchestras are good, the quality of the physical instruments they’re playing on is not as good.”

And while Nashville is inevitably more expensive than overseas — sources say one hires players in Nashville for $75 an hour as opposed to $25 or $30 an hour in Eastern Europe — Wintory says bang for the buck must be considered. “The challenge is reconciling the per-player rate with the speed at which one can move,” he explains. “If you pay a little more for Nashville but you can go twice as fast, it might be cheaper.”

Tennessee is a right-to-work state; you don’t have to be a union member to perform in the studios. That’s attractive to producers who aren’t interested in signing union agreements that tie them to later residual payments (the primary reason so much recording work has left California).

Says Alan Umstead, a top Nashville contractor for recording dates: “Most of my clients went to Eastern Europe but were not happy with the quality of work. Then they realized that they could come to Nashville and get quality and a nonunion buyout at a reasonable price.”

The drawback is that Music City only has one recording studio that’s suitable for film, TV and game work: Ocean Way, located in a 100-year-old church, and it can comfortably accommodate only about 75 musicians. Composers needing a larger orchestra generally record strings, brass and woodwinds separately and then mix them together later. There is talk of building a larger studio to accommodate the growing demand.

Says Raines, “We see ourselves as a state of content creators and storytellers. This is a way for us to help sell the state on our quality and efficiency and utilize our unique competitive advantage.” The pool of money available for the scoring rebate is expected to be $5 million, which, if it were all used, says Umstead, “would translate to $20 million worth of scoring work — a nice little incentive.”

But American Federation of Musicians Local 47 president John Acosta tells Variety that companies going to Nashville are taking advantage of the right-to-work laws to exploit talent. “They know that they can get these musicians cheaper by not having them under a union agreement,” he says. “They don’t have healthcare, or retirement benefits, or Social Security contributions or unemployment insurance.”

Prague contractor James Fitzpatrick has a different take. He notes that the competition for scoring has become worldwide. “With ever-tightening music budgets, more alternative venues and musical ensembles are on offer than ever before,” he says. “Surely that is a good thing for all musicians.”







“I appointed the girlfriend of a head of a players conference as the new pension trustee. Are you not entertained?”

Gail Kruvand Joins AFM-EPF Board of Trustees

Pension Fund Notes
Newsletter of the American Federation of Musicians and
Employers’ Pension Fund
Gail Kruvand Joins AFM-EPF Board of Trustees
The AFM-EPF Board of Trustees is pleased to announce
that Gail Kruvand has joined the Board as a Union Trustee.
Gail replaces departing Trustee Phil Yao, who leaves his
position after nearly 15 years of service on the Board.
The Trustees thank Phil for his dedication and hard
work on behalf of AFM-EPF participants and extend
a warm welcome to Gail.
Gail’s career as an AFM bassist spans nearly 40 years.
Her many credits include 27 years with the New York
City Opera Orchestra, numerous film/TV and sound
recordings, and subbing with Broadway shows, including
“Phantom of the Opera” and “My Fair Lady.”
At the New York City Opera, Gail served for more than
10 years on the orchestra committee and several times
on the negotiating committee, including as chairwoman
of each. She was a member of the Local 802 Executive
Board from 2010 to 2017 and attended AFM conventions
in 2013 and 2016 as a delegate. Gail also has experience
serving on the boards of AFM player conferences, including
the ICSOM Governing Board and the RMA Executive Board.
Per the AFM Bylaws, Gail was appointed by AFM International
President Ray Hair after consulting with the AFM Player
Conferences. As a Trustee, Gail will participate in rigorous,
ongoing education and training on issues such as plan
funding, investments, federal legislation and other issues
relevant to administering the Fund. In this unpaid role, Gail will
join the Trustees in receiving advice from the Fund’s actuary,
investment advisor and other experts that help inform
Trustee decisions.
We thank Gail for accepting this important responsibility to her
fellow musicians. Participants can find more information on
the role and structure of the Board of Trustees in the June 18 issue of
Pension Fund Notes
[MUSICIANS: Oh Good – Another person with no financial experience
is going to be a trustee. What could go wrong? Connections as always,
regardless of worth.


Grammy-nominated songwriter and record producer Kevin Risto has filed a class action lawsuit against SAG-AFTRA, the American Federation of Musicians and the trustees of the Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund, claiming the unions violated their fiduciary duty to session musicians and backup singers by taking a 3% service fee on all royalties they’re owed.

Risto, who has written and produced songs for Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lopez, 50 Cent and Frank Ocean, claims that SAG-AFTRA collected more than $1.7 million in service fees in 2016 that it was not entitled to – and has been collecting similar fees since 2013. The suit (read it here), filed June 22 in Los Angeles Superior Court, wants the union to repay the money and stop collecting it in the future.

The suit notes that federal law grants the owner of a copyright in a sound recording the exclusive right to perform and reproduce it publicly by means of a digital audio transmission. Sound Exchange, an affiliate of the Recording Industry Association of America, is the sole U.S. entity authorized to collect royalties due from these songs. It then turns the performers’ share of the money over to the fund, which was established by the unions to distribute the royalties to members and non-members alike.

The suit states that prior to its merger with SAG in 2012, AFTRA distributed these royalties without ever collecting a service fee, but that after the merger, the fund’s trustees – all of whom are officials or members of the unions – approved granting the unions a 3% service fee on the royalties they distribute.

The suit claims that the defendants “were trustees of the Fund, but were acting with deep conflicts of interest to the benefit of the unions, by which they were employed. This service fee reduces the amount of capital in the Fund and therefore reduces the amount of money available to the beneficiaries of the Fund.”

According to the suit, “Defendants violated their duties to the Trust when authorizing the service fee and diverting funds away from the Fund and to the unions. The service fee is purportedly paid to the unions for the provision of certain data and representation of ‘Fund interests.’ However, all of the obligations conferred on the unions in the service agreement were activities that the unions were already performing as a benefit to its members. No new consideration was provided by the unions in exchange for the service fee.” The suit also alleges that the defendants violated the terms of the service agreement by paying the trustees’ expenses.

Risto, who is not a member of either union, is represented by attorneys Paul Kiesel and Neville Johnson of Kiesel Law LLP In Beverly Hills.

Songwriter Kevin Risto Sues SAG-AFTRA And Musicians Union Over Music Royalties