Greetings Local 47 Colleagues!

As expected, you had some pretty strong views about the unhappy Other Side of the Coin member.

Below are some of what we’ve received so far….


Too long – the guy does make some good points –
we need to have meetings to focus on the lack of work issue
and get everyone on the same page to promote LA for work
all kinds of work


Note to Mr. April 26th –

Since your e-mail (quoted below) seems to imply that membership to the AFM should be limited to only people who are actually professionals who can play (and I am not necessarily disagreeing with you), then maybe you can inform the rest of us exactly what instrument Sandy DeCrescent plays that makes her eligible to even be a member of our Union. As far as I know being a shrewd business person has never been one of the attributes that allowed one to join this union. It is YOU who have stated that this is an important aspect – maybe keeping ALL non professional/non playing musicians out of the union would have benefited everyone. I certainly know MANY people who feel that way. So if we are going to apply this standard to everyone – I am with you on that!!!

While we are on the subject, I think it is time that orchestrators, arrangers and copyists should form their own guild. For years the AFM has protected the players with no regard to the protection of the music prep folks. I have observed many sessions where nobody checked who did the charts or who copied them. I would bet that there are a HUGE number of filed contracts that have no music prep listed at all!! In fact, orchestrators and copyists who work in the US and never set foot outside the US are regularly denied their health and welfare and pension contributions, because the union refuses to take them, IF the recording sessions happen outside of the country. I, for one, imagine that that decision may actually be illegal in the eyes of the NLRB. Can you imagine if Ford refused to pay workers their benefits because they were building parts for cars in the US, but the parts were ultimately being shipped to Japan to be assembled into a car? If you are working in the US, you should be paid the same way no matter where your product is being used!!!

[April 26th

(Quote from the unhappy Local member)
Congratulations on keeping the initiation fee at $25. A tremendous
achievement. Makes it easy for anyone to be a member, whether
they can play or not or are actually professionals or not-and gives them the same vote as those of us who have been in this union
for over 30 years and work hard to remain professionals. ]


Thank you so much for standing up for the “little guy”. I mean when I read those e-mails I was sick to my stomach by these “bourgeois A list musicians”. I guess they forgot what it was like looking for their next gig. Or coming up through the ranks of getting to their positions where they are presently at. The one person who bragged about their “movie score and sight reading” endeavors is truly a person who is an insatiable soul who wants all the work to his/herself. Of course they want the Local 47 fee raised so that no one else may enjoy the benefits the AFM has to offer.

These closed minded, conceited musicians think that if you play in the clubs you are inferior because you don’t play in the studios. I am a percussionist and possess a degree in Music Theory. I play with symphony orchestras, and jazz ensembles. Yet, I still play with musicians who can’t tell a quarter note from a whole note. It’s all about the true spirituality of making music, and being in the brethren of musicians. Not having the condescending attitude of those musicians less fortunate.

These arrogant studio players seem to take what they have for granted. I mean life is so uncertain everything can be gone in an instant. They may be broad sided in an auto accident, suffer a stroke or a heart attack, and could never play music again. After all that, what will they fall back on? Waiting in line to collect food stamps from the welfare office? These egotistical musicians should reevaluate their lives, and be thankful that they make music for a living. Also they should be thankful to you, (Committee for a more responsible Local 47) for making sure the bylaws are not corrupted for one’s own personal gain.

Keep on fighting on,


I have two comments on the most recent batch of e-mails from the committee: (1) If the professional recording musicians are vastly superior in talent and skill compared to the so-called “weekend warriors” as they claim, then why are they so threatened by them? Maybe because they fear that one talented guy in a well-equipped digital backyard home studio could probably replace the whole lot of them. (2) The entire union could use a refresher course in English grammar and spelling, because the syntactical reference and orthography of these correspondences betray a relatively illiterate standard of written communication.


If this author thinks they are in their exalted position on “hard work,
talent and practicing” they are sadly deluded. It takes but one or two
contractor changes to put them squarely in the category they are so
disdainful of.


Wow, I never realized the extent of the snobbishness of RMA members. They
seem to believe that any one who not a recording musician is a “weekend
warrior” and not a professional. I have news for you elitists; I am a
full-time working musician and have been for over forty years and yet rarely
do a recording session. Playing someone else’s music in a studio setting is
not and has never been the focus or interest of my professional life. I
much prefer live performance with an audience and I am quite good at it. I
have also studied extensively and with some of the best teachers. I doubt
very many of you RMA members could even come close to performing for an
audience at the level that I and other live performance musicians do on a
daily basis. Does that make me less professional than you? Yet because I
am not a member of your clique, you feel you can look down on me. On the
contrary, I pity you! Small minded, narrow focused little people
desperately clinging to their positions in life. As all the music snobs
(and apparently the member of the RMA) are. I am proud of our Committee for
a Responsible 47 and will do what I can to keep our union open and available
to all professional musicians, not just the members of the clique.


I’m guessing none of these emails signed off with “yours in solidarity…”
or “Fraternally yours…”


Isn’t it great!!! I love these responses! I am sooooo encouraged by
the fact that sssoooommmeeee people take it upon themselves to actually
show us aaaallllllll just how much solidarity means. Wow, the
brotherhood!!! After reading notes from “the other side” I see where the
small mindedness really is. Well …excuuuusssseee mmmeee!! The train has
left the station. When the recording work gets gone, the only thing left
will be…. live. If it is not supported and promoted by our union THOSE
people will have less to look forward to and, by the way, less upward
scales…..just in case they get lucky. When some of them (those without
big residual checks) go looking for that work, do they want to see
dishwasher scales? If the scales go south in the hinterlands, they will go
south here. For all the ANTI LEE fans…..HIS JOB is to represent
PROFESSIONAL MUSICIANS…whoever they say they are, (as per the “adopted
definition”) and PAY DUES, wherever they are in the UNITED STATES….
Outside the ivory sound stage is a land that supports a race of people
called the freelance musician. I am horrified by the thought of
cannibalism. Cheers! and Thanks!


That is quite an interesting group of emails and I’d have to say that there are so many “grays” in the world and not enough black and whites.

Many of these emails bring up an important question, Who is the Union really for? Who does it belong to?
I would agree that working musicians who pay the lions share of the bills should have a strong voice in what the Union does. I would also say however that the union also needs to continue to develop members and membership otherwise when that “professional” needs some concerted action he won’t have some fellow members to walk the line with him.

Yes, it is true that “club date” musicians provide only a marginal amount of money into the unions coffers. These “Club Date” musicians did not create that situation however, this was done before most of them arrived in Los Angeles. The union has dropped the ball completely on the lounge gig situation. We must think of ways to make it more advantageous for a club or small theater to file a contract. We need to provide them with reasons why it is better to be a signatory. Right now there is no good reason for a club owner to file a contract or be a signatory. Maybe the union should provide some sort of special offer that doesn’t cheapen the contract but provides an extra value for using Union musicians and union contracts.

The other essential services that the Union provides, such as recording, Video, network, and CD promo/sales, are services that a Musicians Union should provide. Most of these services are provided at a minimal cost by dedicated people who accept less money themselves just to provide a reasonable service.

On a case by case basis

Recording studio/ Video Studio
Gear is good but not state of the art. Auditorium has a good sound but is only a marginal recording environment. The mixing console was acquired for free from donation. Piano has been on loan for free for the last 4 years. Video gear was purchased new 8 years ago and has serviced a lot of musicians. (video gear loses state of the art status at purchase time as we all know) Engineers and administrator have been underpaid compared to market for years.
The studio has provided people with not just “vanity” records and video but tools to help our brother musicians succeed in the real world. To make the claim that RMA members do not avail themselves of those services is just ludicrous, RMA members use these services as much as anyone else. The studio also has never supported any MIDI, all sessions are recorded live. The studio also has provided services for audition tapes for symphonies, videos for gig demos, internet compression and publicity and archival help for the union. This is quite a list of services that are provided at an incredibly small cost to the membership.

The cd promotions/sales program
has not been a huge moneymaker but has helped some musicians get their product distributed to a larger audience. Again salary costs have been miniscule compared to the market rate for these types of employees. Of course because little money has been spent the service is not as robust as some would like. There are RMA members using this service as well.

Network/ Referral service
Another service that has had a very small salary cost compared to the value of the service. Invariably when people need musicians they call the musicians union as one of the places to get prices and it is important to have a professional presentation to help our brother musicians get gigs. Not just rock bands get work from the network. String quartets, harpists, mariachi bands, and tv/video work are all supported by the network.

All of these services have been operating on a shoestring budget compared to real world costs to get these services outside of the union. While some of our brothers are demeaning these services they are available for all of our members and have been used by RMA members as well as “hobby” members. I feel it is really an elitist point of view to say that the union should just cater to the recording musician. the union needs to continue to reach out to the musical community, many of whom have degrees and practice daily. When the union membership dwindles it weakens our bargaining power for those very same recording musicians. Anyone who thinks that a nonunion orchestra cannot be assembled in Los Angeles is not living in reality. There are enough degreed and talented musicians in Los Angeles to staff a lot of orchestras. What makes a Union work is numbers a collective, working together to pull up all of our brethren. I believe we should keep working towards that goal, keeping in mind what all of our memberships needs are and not catering to one special interest group.


Why is it the unhappy emails have foul language and the positive ones do not? I guess that would have to do with “attitude”! So as not to take up the valuable time of those working in the studios, let me quickly say that “attitude” is everything. It makes or breaks the success of an individual, no matter what he/she does in life. To illustrate this, I must digress a bit – but please, have patience!!

I saw how full the parking lot was for the meeting last month – incredible! I was duly impressed and knew that finally, the membership that constitutes the “grass roots” of our Union had finally come alive! It is like when I accidentally switched the channel a few months ago to C-Span and all of a sudden heard an absolutely stunning speech full of fire and energy! I couldn’t believe it was coming from Al Gore! Something had stirred inside him and finally, he was alive, after all these years! Whether you agreed with what was being said or not, he had to be admired for coming ‘alive’!!! Just as our membership has finally, ‘come alive’ with positive energy! It was a miracle! Attitudes had changed – the underserved were now looking at the overserved, straight in the eye with self-assuredness and great energy!

So let’s stay on that very positive ‘high’ note and consider this our golden opportunity which we may have missed in the past.

Remember – in the words of Maxine, that funny outspoken lady with the bunny slippers and light-blue hair: ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING. If you don’t believe it, test it! We did on April 24th, 2006. The sleeping giant has been . . . awakened!!!
My attitude: g e t u s e d t o i t!


And last but not least,….

God Blass Us one and All.

Thanks for reading!

Over the next week, we’ll be sending you some info on member concerts, and more meeting comments. We’ve also received some very interesting emails concerning health insurance. If you have any comments on the insurance situation, or anything else, please send them to us.

Until next time


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