We asked the AFM if they had done any research into the history
of this video game/recording in America situation. As it turns out,
they had, sometime before the last Convention. Certainly, since
the letters AFM appear in it the true-believers of the RMALA will
say it is bunk, but for anyone who is not an ideologue this should
be instructive and enlightening. And it will pretty much set the
record straight. Whenever you get the lock step propaganda from
the RMA, hand them this article and tell them to get educated.

We will have some comments at the conclusion of the report.



Over the last several months, there has been a fair amount of
discussion regarding the AFM and its video game agreements.
Since this issue may be a topic of discussion at the upcoming
AFM Convention, I thought it would helpful to have some background
on this issue. Fueling some of the discussion is the following
question: Why did the AFM undercut the RMA-sponsored Video
Game Agreement (VGA) promulgated by the IEB about 5 years ago?

The short answer is that the AFM did not undercut the VGA. While
the VGA generated some very modest interest from the game
publishers and developers during its first 2 years, and the AFM
had high hopes that it would succeed, unfortunately it failed and
lost traction because the VGA was simply not acceptable in
any substantive way to the employers.

A little history would be helpful in understanding where we are
today. Prior to the implementation of the original VGA, game
publishers showed very little interest in working with the AFM.
To the extent there was any interest, the AFM negotiated case-by
-case special agreements for video game projects. Activity level
was quite low; around a half-dozen or so games per year. These
AFM-scored video games were paying in the neighborhood of
$400 for a 3 hour session for 15 minutes of music, with applicable
requirements for new-use and soundtrack album payments.

Then in 2002, at the urging of the RMA, the IEB approved the
RMA’s Video Game Agreement proposal. The promulgated VGA
had lower wages – $180 per 3 hour session for 15 minutes of
music – and applicable requirements for new-use and soundtrack
album payments.The RMA’s logic was that the Federation should
create an agreement competitive with Seattle’s rates, so they
proposed these lower rates. In essence, the RMA VGA proposal
undercut the AFM’s existing rate, but for good reason – they had
the hope of generating more activity.

That first VGA seemed to be working; approximately 14 to 16 games
were scored under it per year for the first 2 years (compared to the 6
games at the $400 that were done in 2001). Then in late 2004,
two of the largest game publishers and the most influential game
composers asked for a buy-out option, offering to pay a higher
rate and with a guarantee of more work staying in the US, particularly
in Los Angeles. They advised that without a buy-out option, the
work would definitely go elsewhere (London, Prague, Seattle, etc.)
The RMA was not prepared to agree to a buy-out. As predicted,
the work went elsewhere and in 2005 & 2006 there were only 5
or 6 games scored under AFM at the $180 rate.

The Video Game Industry is exploding. Over 1,000 games are
published in North America alone each year. More and more
games are going to be using medium to large sized orchestras in
addition to the usual small overdub session work that augments
what the composer records. The vast technological improvements
in the hardware/software, the saturation of the consumer
marketplace with the dedicated consoles, hand-helds, pc and
mobile and internet multi-player subscriptions all mean that
there will be, that there already is, an the insatiable consumption
of games by the worldwide public.

Game developers and publishers are global. The nature of video
games inherently requires huge amounts of music. There is an
undeniable opportunity for work for AFM members in this category.
Unfortunately, because the previous AFM VGA terms are unattractive,
unacceptable and unused by the companies, AFM members have
been losing out on work that would definitely generate a significant
amount of sessions.

Most game publishers and developers will not tolerate the complexity
of the AFM agreements that reference other AFM agreements as, to
their minds, unknown, unquantifiable, unacceptable additional terms.
They want simplicity and finality in their music deals. The vast majority
of composers who score these games do not benefit from additional
payments, themselves. Whether we like it or not, this is the current
state of an industry that is growing exponentially without us.

Relationships have already been established between the Video
Game Industry and other orchestras, both domestically (Seattle, etc.)
and worldwide. These relationships are being cemented each time
another project is done elsewhere. Each project done non-AFM
ensures that those orchestras will get better and better and more and
more comparable to AFM orchestras. The vast majority of game
composers do not have the leverage to insist that the work be done
under AFM terms, especially when such terms are unacceptable to
the companies. And, all the while, hundreds and likely thousands of
AFM musicians are losing out on this work.

In November, 2006, taking into consideration the AFM’s low level of
market share and the pitiful number of projects done in 2005 & 2006,
the IEB decided to take a bold step and approved both the Local 802
(New York) Recording Musicians Committee proposal (a simplified
one page version at $150 for 3 hours) and the RMA International’s
proposal (a much more detailed version using primarily film agreement
language at $180 for 3 hours). The IEB did not approve the proposal
submitted by RMA San Francisco and Local 6, which was based on a
buy-out model. These 2 proposals became the AFM’s Experimental
Video Game Agreements – Option 1 and Option 2. Both of these
agreements were approved by the IEB for a one-year experimental
period to allow each to gain traction and interest from the Video
Game community and to generate work for AFM members.

Within a few months of the IEB adoption of these Agreements,
some recording musicians in Los Angeles, for various untold but
certainly not indiscernible reasons, created an entity they called
the “Professional Musicians Guild” (PMG) as a union that could
provide a “go-to orchestra” for video games. They approached
various Video Game Industry folks and game composers outside
of AFM terms, with no AFM pension or health benefits, thereby
undermining the AFM agreements and undermining you.

When asked directly about the buy-out issue, the PMG leadership
has apparently responded with: “We are very creative” and “We are
very flexible.” The PMG agreement has purported “new-use”
obligations in its language. But upon careful review, it is clearly
intended to allow for conveniently vague and arbitrary interpretation
by the PMG as to the nature and cost of such “new-use” obligations.

The AFM is not undercutting the VGA. The AFM is working to
capture Video Game scoring work for its AFM members. This is
too large an industry to ignore and our members (all of our
members) deserve to have an opportunity to share in the tremendous
amount of work that can happen as this industry grows larger
and larger. To help us begin to capture this work following the
PMG’s invention, the IEB authorized the negotiation of one-off
agreements with interested video game producers designed to fit
the specifics of their particular situation on a game-by-game basis.
As we gain relationships with the Industry through either Option
1 or Option 2 or one-offs, and as composers in the game world
enjoy the benefits of working with our exceptionally talented AFM
musicians, we will be able to make improvements to the terms.
This is not a race to the bottom; this is getting in the race for the
benefit of ALL of our musicians.




Some letters recently obtained by the COMMITTEE from a couple
of RMA ideologues suggest that the AFM-created VG contracts
are somehow illegitimate because those who have done the sessions
in the past were not involved in their creation. According to the
report above, those who have done the work WERE involved, however
indirectly. Option 1 and Option 2 were created using input from
New York and RMA agreements as a source. But because the vast
majority of what little work was done by AFM musicians was done
by RMALA musicians, If they don’t control this work and can’t take
total credit for it they wanted nothing to do with it,.. till their
actions backfired in the worst possible way. Adding insult to fantasy,
they then tried to get away with, roughly, doing the equivalent of
breaking a lamp (Simpson’s VG Sessions) and pointing at their
big brother yelling, “HE DID IT!” No one in the AFM or Local 47
forced those RMA members to bail on five days of doubles (thus
depriving fellow L.A. union musicians of the work;), they did it to

Those insisting that only those who do the work are qualified to
negotiate and regulate it could rightfully be called lobbyists and
ideologues for a specific subgroup of musicians. The glaring
problem with this position is that those who do the work have an
irresistible conflict of interest in that they will instinctively protect
at all costs what works FOR THEM, even when it gets in the way
of what will work better for EVERYONE.

The RMALA had its chance for two years with their VG contract.
These experts who “do the work” lost out on most of it because
their demands defied reality. The situation is only improving now
because of the efforts of those not only intent on “doing the work”,
but also “GROWING the work.”

We’ve seen this again and again. It’s already been demonstrated
that regardless of what damage the RMA leadership does to their
own organization, they continue with the same ham-handed tactics
again and again on our industry, expecting different results. Isn’t that
the textbook definition of insanity? If the RMA had even tried to
insist on doing these sessions with the agreement only they prefer,
the Simpson’s VG would never have been scheduled here to begin


Hearing the RMALA talk about recording here and bragging about
how it’s going great for them in a recent Variety article is a real
kneeslapper (or head slapper) for those outside the “club”.

It may be reality as far as they, whether they actually believe it or
not, but on the ground with the rank and file is a whole ‘nother
kettle of fish. With the exception of themselves, or at least for the
RMA leadership, it’s a scorched-earth policy. “All for us and them
for us,” too. Some of them have even started making moves on
the live work which has been the staple of others for decades.

They continue to talk about how it’s getting better and better for
them, even as more rooms close. We expect TODD-AO to close at
the end of the year, because they find the space to be more
profitable for other uses, either as office space or studio stages.
Recording must be really booming for them, eh? One of the three
remaining medium-sized rooms has closed as well. If the recording
industry were doing as well as the RMA leadership claims, why
has the closure of rooms not stopped? Because it’s not reality.

As we reported last time, the new AFM VG agreement is making a
difference and should continue to do so as long as no one tries
to sabotage it.


Remember that there are many, many wonderful and ethical
union contractors and musicians in Los Angeles. Make sure you
tell your colleagues that AFM players are owned by no one.
Prudent composers can do well by dealing with contractors who
know this.


II. Article on Recording changes from New York 802 President.

This article was printed just before the June convention.

Volume CVII No. 6
June, 2007

Whither the Recording Industry and the AFM?
President’s Report

by Mary Landolfi

We live in a changing world market for recorded music. Recording
production has expanded worldwide and declined in traditional
centers in the United States.

In many ways, an era of recorded music that has been a source of
significant and stable employment for many union musicians is

Can we successfully adapt? What must we do to avoid becoming

Before we talk about the future, however, let’s catch up on the

Historically some of the most skillful and best paid musicians in
the AFM were recording musicians. Thanks to the Secondary Markets
Fund, which was negotiated by the AFM with the support of rank-
and-file film musicians, a substantial part of the total income
from film scoring work comes from back-end payments.

Similar back-end payments apply to some other AFM agreements.

Starting in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, however, changes
began to be apparent in the industry. The Seattle Symphony,
which had earlier left the AFM, began to sell itself as an orchestra
available for film, jingle and recording dates.

British symphonies did the same thing.

Later, highly trained musicians of Eastern Europe, looking for a
way to make a living when governmental subsidies evaporated,
also became available. New recording centers emerged through-
out Europe and Asia in competition with U.S. recording artists.

We can knock their musicianship. We can say that the product is
not as good and it takes longer to create. But if these problems
once existed, they were successfully solved by recording the
basic tracks overseas and offering top cash for U.S. soloists to
sweeten the sound on a nonunion basis.

It should be noted that the cost of health care has also provided
an incentive to move employment. Regardless of the scale, the
cost of recording overseas may be cheaper simply because in
many countries health care is provided to all – unlike in our country,
where health insurance costs are added to the cost of the AFM

Studios can save millions by recording elsewhere and avoiding
the cost of these insurance benefits.

This is today’s reality.

The AFM has to have a strategy for preserving compensation
from film scoring and be flexible enough to respond to changes
in the marketplace. To do otherwise is to lose control of the market
and watch more and more work go nonunion until we are irrelevant
and our agreements are consigned to the scrap heap of history.

In response to this reality, some West Coast recording musicians
have formed a rival “union” called the Professional Musicians Guild.
At the same time, a business called New Era Scoring is blatantly
advertising that it can provide musicians who work for a lump
sum – that is, a nonunion “buyout” – no new use, re-use, health
or pension. Both are reactions to the same problem, and both are
threats to the strength and unity of musicians and the AFM.

New Era seems to be a response by some musicians to the belief
that they are frozen out of the current market. It is a commercial
enterprise set up to capture work being done nonunion. It will
likely do little more than start a bidding war and a downward
spiral of wages, benefits and working conditions.

Unfortunately, New Era’s approach weakens our union, undermines
our contracts and joins musicians with anti-worker and anti-
union groups like the National Right to Work (for less!) Committee.
While the musicians associated with New Era are just trying to make
a living, they are being used by those who would like to destroy
the AFM.

The Professional Musicians Guild is, in my view, also an attempt
by a few union musicians to respond to the new world market.

It may also be an expression of the frustration film musicians
have with the AFM’s inability to organize the nonunion sector, its
inability to work with international musicians’ organizations to
establish a more level playing field internationally, and AFM resistance
to their issues and viewpoints.

While Local 802 shares these concerns, we also know that the
formation of a PMG or any other splinter group is not the solution.
The downward pressure this competition will create is more likely
to destroy lucrative recording contracts than to save them.

To those who would walk away from the AFM I would say this: the
AFM is our union; it is not our enemy. It belongs to us: to film
musicians on the West Coast, recording musicians in Nashville,
theatre musicians in New York and Canada, and the thousands of
symphony, opera, ballet, jingle, recording, theatre, jazz, rock and
pop musicians across this country and Canada.

The challenge before us is to maintain the unity that will allow us
to deal with multinational employers in an ever-changing industry.

We need respectful dialogue in the search for a solution that shores
up our traditional agreements while we try to capture nonunion
work with differently structured agreements.

We need to work together to guide the AFM in a direction that is
productive for all working musicians.

When we meet at the AFM convention, Local 802 hopes to work
with all other delegates to make the AFM fully represent the
interests of all working musicians.

It is only through unity that we will reach that goal.


[Editor’s note: There are only two things that we wish she had
mentioned that she did not. Firstly, the role of the RMA itself in
the demise of their own work and that the PMG is an illegal
organization. There are certainly other points to be made,
but you, our readership, can most certainly read between the
lines where need be. ]



Local 47 will be co-sponsoring the Independent Music Conference
with IndieGate to take place at
Local 47 from October 5 – 7, 2007.

We are happy to announce that there are 50 free passes to give
out to our members on a first come, first serve basis. Tickets are
$25 thereafter ($50 for non-union members).

If you would like to attend, please contact us by e-mail
[email protected] or call the Member Services Department
at (323) 993-3157. For more information visit



Piano/Organ Position Open

St James Presbyterian Church in Tarzana (San Fernando Valley) is
looking for an accompanist. The job pays $16,000 per year. We have
one Sunday service at 10:30 AM with a praise band rehearsal at nine,
choir warmup rehearsal at 9:30. Except for summertime, the choir
meets Thursday evenings from about 7:30 to 9 PM. During the summer,
the choir sings on Sundays only through July and in August we
schedule special music that includes the accompanist.

Styles range from classical to pop. We have an active chamber music
profile (we just performed portions of Schubert’s Trout Quintet last
Sunday). Our minister, Steve Smith, is totally cool and nice. We have
a Rodgers Digital Organ that we’d like to hear, but a trained pianist
willing to learn how to use the stops for some hymns will be acceptable.

Please contact me directly by e mail or phone if you wish to audition:

Claire Rydell
[email protected]



The comments below represent only the views of the writer and
not necessarily the views of the COMMITTEE.


Any contractor putting out a call for a AFM videogame (or ANY
session, for that matter) would surely have had the
producer/company/composer agree to the terms that they are
calling the session under; whatever those terms may be. I highly
doubt Blizzard, Lucasfilm or EA are just randomly letting contractors
put calls out under terms which they don’t approve ahead of time.

Therefore the contractor would have to have the relevant information
to disseminate in the work call itself. Bringing up the “answering
service” in that RMA email is ridiculous. The contractors can give
them the terms also. I agree that the players need to ask the
contractors for the right info, and if the contractor can’t provide
that info, then turn the job down.



As long as Tom Lee does not blitzkrieg this PMG and set the
record straight with the position of the RMA ( and most likely
culpability) for not standing together and sorting out this mess
INTERNALLY, we are going to get lost in the fractured world of
power, ego, and mission drift.

[Editor’s note: We feel it necessary to point out to the reader that
the above action SHOULD be the job of President Espinosa and the
Local 47 administration,… ok, stop laughing!]


From James Domine…

Thanks for plugging my book. It was very thoughtful of you!


I have stopped reading your emails because they are too hard to
read. No paragraphs, widely split sentences all over the page.
forget it.


I have read with interest the details surrounding the demise of
the Pops Orchestra. More than 30 years ago I prepared and
published a monograph on the subject of the absence of black
musicians in symphony orchestras. It created quite a stir because….
“we do not discriminate.” I also organized and lead a picket at
the Music Center protesting the absence of black players in the
Academy Awards Orchestra. The following year, Quincy Jones
was hired as the Director. The color of the orchestra changed.
Local 47 (John Tranchitella, Max Herman, Vince DiBari and others)
not only did not support our efforts, they were unavailable for
comment when Leonard Feather, writing for the LA Times, tried
to interview them on this issue. I also testified at a Congressional
Hearing on this issue, which was raised because of the picketing
that was seen around the world.

Last week, I turned the TV on and saw/heard a concert of Beethoven’s 9th
Symphony. I was fascinated by the orchestra because it played SO WELL and
had a RAINBOW of people of color in ALL sections of the orchestra. The
orchestra was BIG. (more than 120 players). I sat up until 3am hoping
some identification of t he orchestra would be forthcoming. When the
concert ended, I learned it was an orchestra from Mexico…Orquestra de
Mineria. The orchestra recruits players from all over the world. Many
American blacks play in that orchestra.

In the United States, after 30 years, things remain the same. The
Pasadena Pops Orchestra is damn near lily white. The end of the orchestra
means that mostly white players will be out of jobs. My attitude now is
the same as those leaders of Local 47, 30-35 years ago. This is
something I cannot get excited about. However, I am willing to give them
the same level of support that Local 47 gave our efforts.

Earl E. Raines



Don’t forget the October 22nd General Membership meeting! Tell
your colleagues!

Until Next Time,


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