Greetings Colleagues!,

The membership is starting to really heat up about the recording
situation now that the have a place to vent. More ideas are coming forward,
more suggestions of stratagies. Please note the number
of composers with their own realities of the business of working
as a composer. Truth can be said to be like a rope, the more similar
strands of information that make up the rope, the more likely
they add up to the truth.

In other words, if you have a dozen talking of having to leave
to record versus one or two who say they never have a problem
recording here, the more pervasive reailty is most likely the more
reported one.

Here are more comments from your union brothers and sisters,
some rather explosive, or seemingly so, until you realize how often
you or your close colleagues have said the same thing.

Comments, complaints and ideas are always welcome.
Your privacy will always be protected.

And now the comments……


Are you a group of Local 47 members?

(Editors Note: ‘The Committee’ is made up of ALL Local 47
Members. In fact, most are members of the RMA.)


the explosive comment of the day (i.e. daring to point out the
elephant in the room….)

It’s clear that in order to be competitive with London and
elsewhere, all of which who offer buyouts, that the AFM has
to offer one.
Filmmakers are leaving the US in droves to record scores.
The RMA is willing to sacrifice any and all recording jobs here
in order to preserve a relatively small number of high-paying
LA studio films that, predictably, involve the “Elite 100” or so
and their contractor, we all know HER name. The most overpaid
secretary (non-musician, of course!) in the history of LA

I wonder how many players have lost their careers to make sure
SHE still has the right to charge quadruple-scale for her “work”
on sessions….? Sickening greed and selfishness.
She gives “player” a whole new name…

It’s sickening that the elite are willing to stand by and not be
competitive and burn so many other musicians who are enduring
real suffering due to lost work. RMA, wake up and smell the coffee:

* The producers want a buyout. They get one EVERYWHERE else,
and they’ll go EVERYWHERE else just like they are now in order
to receive competitive treatment. This is simple competition.
And the AFM is not being competitive.

It’s very simple. Wake up folks!

* The producers biggest concern: the back end and keeping the
books open for years.

* The number of musicians HURT by the elite’s unwillingness
to be competitive is FAR HIGHER than the small number
of “Elite” musicians who run the RMA for THEIR OWN BENEFIT.

The battle between Phil Ayling and Tom Lee over being
competitive vs. being noncompetitive is having a terrible cost
in terms of the number of people affected by this.

(Editors Note: Could you imagine someone actually saying the
above in public? Hundreds of members feel this exact same way,
and NOW you have a place to say it.

In the committees opinion the quadrupling of budgets
that went on for some 15 years or more did irreparable damage
to work in this city. Besides the Back end, this is the one thing
that made producers look elsewhere in the first place.
While few will say it, most know it’s true. If the cost had not
become so absurd with no real competition allowed, it would
have taken the industry far longer to get fed up and look elsewhere.

We don’t believe anyone can dare quadruple budgets anymore,
not now that the damage has been done and the options are
myriad. If anyone tells you that NO ONE quadruples scales NOW,
it might be true, but for a good 15 years at least it WAS going on.
And boy HOW the pockets were stuffed. )


Something that wasn’t mentioned here was Videogame production. Videogames are a global market with publishers and developers worldwide. There are no package deals for composers in the videogame industry, just a reasonably stable composer’s fee plus separate budgets for live musicians, studios, etc. The composers, publishers, and game developers in this industry are big
Advocates of using world-class musicians and I constantly hear comments about the benefits of using Los Angeles musicians at the developer conferences. There is currently a very liberal AFM agreement for videogames on the books and in use by myself and others in the industry. It includes a buyout among other provisions and big publishers like EA, Ubisoft, Vivendi-Universal are doing sessions here.

My only comment regarding the wording below is the use of the
“Elite” musicians. We all know plenty of world-class musicians
who aren’t on the A-list for some of the busy contractors and
this wording separates these fine talents with the select few
that have able to fit within the politics of the way these contractors do business, in addition to having great talent themselves. This is a separatist view which has been in our union for a long
time and has poisoned our local into an Us vs. Them mindset.
This has to stop.

For those of you who are part of this A-list,
I’d like to remind you that although you are a powerful and
well-organized group in how you vote within the union,
you are still a minority and the inevitable moment when the
majority of the union is fed up with your inability to listen,
that’s the moment when the revolution will commence and
we will vote you out of office.

For the rest of the membership, I recommend joining the RMA,
attending all AFM meetings and voting your mind. It’s time to
walk the walk.


Dear “Committee,”
I was forwarded your recent e-mail listing the alternative buyout proposals by another Local 47 member. I found the analysis and proposals very interesting and useful for the discussions that, I agree, are much needed among all film recording musicians. My question is, what data base are you using for your mailings? I am probably one of many working members who am not receiving any of this and should be.
I am also a member of the RMA, so I would hope that you are not avoiding the entire RMA membership. As you pointed out, there are many RMA members who are not among the “elite” as you describe, and are just as concerned about the future of the industry as anyone else.
I would like to be included in any future mailing/discussions on this issue.

(Editors Note: We use the membership list of the Local to
construct our list. Being dues paying members we, as you,
are entitled to the directory and the information within it,
as long as the member has a way of removing themselves
from the mailings. We don’t desire to SPAM anyone,
therefore an UNSUBSCRIBE LINK is included in every mailing
we do.)


I am a composer I live in LA and usually record here. Recently, I had
to do budgets for a 60 piece orchestra. I chose to shop around. I
chose to look at LA, Budapest, Prague, Phoenix, Utah and Seattle. I
have about $25,000 to spend as a music budget for recording – not
including mixing, copyist, conductor, engineer, room, catering, cartage and whatever the heck else comes up.

In order to get the kind of sound I want, I need to do overdubs along with sampler pre-records. The LA Union doesn’t allow overdubs as far as I know unless you pay a fee. I need a buyout. The LA Union does not offer a buyout.
All the other orchestras offer a buyout and overdubs at no charge. I
could hire a 40 pieces in Budapest with travel and all other costs (not including mixing, copiest, conductor, engineer, room, catering, cartage and whatever the heck else comes up. ) for $23,000 with overdubs and a buyout leaving me $2,000 to mix as well as a short vacation in Hungary.
(Seattle gave me a quote that was out of line, Prague still looks
good, Utah still hasn’t got back to me, Phoenix is just a bit more that Budapest and LA wants about 50% more than anyone else + back end.)

Look, I love the LA Musicians. I have been educated and know what the options are. But I have to work with-in a budget and I refuse to go out of pocket like I have so many times in the past. I need to get
paid too – I mean heck I am writing the music. Plus with the explosion of cable networks, the smaller networks and production companies doing stuff on a shoestring budget, samplers, reality TV using libraries of mainly synth recorded stuff and falling TV viewer-ship (Video Games, Internet and maybe just maybe people actually turning off the tube and having a life) it is no wonder that budgets have fallen.

Composers have no union, we are mercenaries and therefore we get
squeezed. We want to score projects and some we are even willing to do for free if it has a chance of either training us or being good for our reel. This lowers our value in the eyes of our prospective employers even though they can’t really pay us and it lowers the amount of musicians we can hire.

For the A-List Composers there will always be the A-List
Directors/Producers who are willing to pay for quality. There may
always be the golden 150 players in town that get the choice gigs, but then again many of those gigs are going to the LSO. For those of us who are trying to get to A-list land: Directors, Producers, Composers and the like, we have to claw our way up. Even the big studios, TV Production companies and ad agencies are seeing their revenues decline.

And you know how crap rolls downhill.

We are now in the midst of taking a look at the big picture of
economics 101 and seeing supply and demand in action. Technology has become cheaper, it continues to evolve making many live music applications unnecessary. We used to hire large ensembles, now we do pre-records with a small group of live musicians. In the Future it might be 1 or 2 musicians for overdubs. Theaters are running off of CD’s of sequenced music, because it is cheaper to do that than hire a music director and an orchestra. The current generation has seen more DJ’s than live musicians and that plays a huge part. My grandfather kept complaining back in the late 80’s how all the music those days was computer generated and I asked him when was the last time you went out to see a live performance? It dawned on him then that live music
venues were scarce and that he wasn’t supporting the ones that were left.

Technology has made it such that you can be a composer just about
anywhere, as long as you can gain the trust of the director/producer and fly out to record if you need to. We live in a global economy.

The playing field is leveling. And as Charles Darwin pointed out –
life is a game of Survival of the Fittest. Sooner or later the shake
down will happen if it hasn’t already. Will you adapt or not? There
are others who are adapting and those are the ones who will get the
work. Consumers are demanding cheap prices across the board. Look at Wal-Mart.
Consumers in our profession are called Producers (The ones that pay the bills).
They are demanding we create with smaller and smaller budgets. If I can go somewhere and get what I need without the hassle, why should I stay?

My most recent producer looked me in the eye straight faced and asked “What is really the point of paying more money to get the same product?” And at Wal-Mart if you can get what you want without having to pay more, why should you?

(Editors Note: Many composers have told us that ACROSS THE
BOARD composers fees have been cut in half in the last 3 years.
There are certainly exceptions, but taking the whole picture into
account this seems accurate.)


Refering to a previous comment posted by another composer, this composer writes….


In a package deal, the composer chooses how to spend the money, yes… but:

Fact – The producer of the project must sign the assumption agreement to record with the union…if he or she refuses to do that, the composer cannot legally record in LA, regardless of the money, etc. The only reason they won’t sign the agreement is back end. Believe me, unless you are John Williams or a handful of others… If you make this demand, you’ll be out of a job very quickly.


After earning a Degree and being on the Deans’ List out of
Berklee Coll. of Music, and immediately going on road
w/ Tommy Dorsey Orch. back in ’79 and working enough
to “make it” (w/ Mel Torme, Bill Holman, Buddy Rich etc., etc. )
I basically threw in the Union towel about 6 years ago.
At least on this day I have at last learned what I am.
A “Non Elite”.

thank you,


My solution would be the elimination of the union entirely,
to be replaced by individual autonomy or by groups of interested
parties in whatever context, e.g. orchestra player’s committees.
I don’t want anyone restricting my ability to make my own
decisions about work. I think the union today is corrupt,
anachronistic and an obstacle to progress.


Hard to say much of anything since I make no money!!!


MOST working musicians in this town are alarmed at the drop in work and concerned for the future of playing in this city.
WE–who is we-the greedy bastards who already take most of the work in LA???

Are looking for ideas to improve to work situation in the city and the future for all players ALL PLAYERS????? DON’T MAKE ME LAUGH—

I don’t think for a second the RMA cares about ALL PLAYERS…the least of which is the RMA and their little band of sycophants.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: David Lowe is NOT a member of the Committee for a More Responsible 47.)


Who are you? Why do you hate the RMA? Who supports your organization? I keep getting e-mails from you, Commresp47, and do not know exactly who you represent, or what your connection is with the recording industry I work in.

(Editor’s Note: The Committee for a Responsible Local 47
represents a number of players and composers all of whom are
members of Local 47, who are tired of having no where to
openly discuss the problem in our business and the
possible solutions. Since the LOCAL itself has NEVER seen
fit to create such a forum where information is sent out for
immediate feedback, and identities protected, we decided to
do it ourselves.

We also wanted a place where Local 47 Colleagues could list
their new releases, upcoming concerts and such to their
Union Colleagues and NOT have to pay for the privilege.
We all pay the better part of $200 for membership in the
LOCAL alone, and an additional $150 if you’re in the RMA as well.
We should be able to advertise and not be charged AGAIN for
the opportunity.

History has shown that monopolies, however well intended,
do not serve the public well. When monopolies are NOT well
intentioned, the only counterbalance is competition, when
competition is not allowed, damage such as that we’ve seen
in this city occurs. Unchecked power in anyone’s hands is
bad news.

We are against ANY monopoly of power in the music business
and believe only through fair competition can the city be re-vitalized.
This is not hatred, this is a matter of morals and ethics. While
the music BUSINESS is in fact a BUSINESS there is more than one
way to run it. We venture to find those OTHER ways.)


I’ve been reading these posts to the committee for a more responsible local 47. Here is my own opinion – please post it (cut and paste it anonymously please)

The only way we stand a chance of keeping work in town is through the other unions. From inception up to the point just before scoring, every Hollywood film is made completely by union talent – Script writers, casting, set construction, lighting, camera crew, actors, and editing are all done under union contracts – until the music.

Local 47 must put its’ entire effort into getting help from the other unions. They should be wined and dined, etc. whatever it takes (and embarrassed!) into helping our situation. (Imagine if producers were told by the entertainment unions that no work would be performed on their film unless there was a guarantee that all aspects of the film (including music) had to be performed under union contracts.)

All of our resources at Local 47 should be spent on soliciting their help. If we could make it known to these unions (and to the public) every time one of their “union” productions is completed by non-union scab workers, eventually they may come to their senses and feel compassion, embarrasement, etc. and rescue us the way unions have done for each other in the past.

Getting the other unions to help is our only hope for survival, as musical versatility doesn’t matter (when every film score in the last 15 years sounds basically the same – i.e. Sandy spends time looking for “classical” players – forget the concept of “studio musician”.)


London Recording Information

Very roughly London rates are

Album Recording:
100 Pounds (150 Euros) (182.49 American Dollar(s)) per 3 hour session plus doubling portage etc…

Buy-Out Rate:
153 Pounds (230 Euros) (279.12 American Dollar(s)) per 3 hour session plus doubling, porterage etc…

plus 10% management fee



We’ve been hearing some distressing news about several area orchestras.
Cases of boards and contractors not honoring contracts or
abusing those contracts because so few of the players are
willing to speak up. STOP BEING SHEEP FOLKS! By yourself you
can be intimidated but NOT IF ENOUGH OF YOU JOIN TOGETHER!

Please use this forum as a way to get information out and to
perhaps get some of your other live colleagues to join together
to protect your common interests.

Thank you all for your time, and have a wonderful Memorial day.

The Committee for a More Responsible Local 47

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