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December 23, 2008

Comments

Wow! An A-list ex RMA player focusing on Me? I’m honored. Or were you trying to say that you are a B-list player? Or maybe the whole thing is fiction?
And you don’t want this to be personal? My crazy accusations? Look in the mirror.
You were anonymous before, and now you want to be just partially anonymous?

So you’ve worked in LA on film and TV which means that you get a healthy SMF check. And you’re in favor of buyouts? A buyout agreement will be ultimately manipulated and destroy your check? Hmmm... But wait, you want a buyout with an increased session fee!! In a business that works on a system of lower upfront costs for back end compensation? Where first rate actors work for minimum scale to get a independent movie made because they will participate in profits?
And we should jeopardize a multi-million dollar workplace based on a Canada buyout that brought in more sessions in Toronto? 5 years ago? You’re funny! So you’re into fiction AND comedy.

Every post on this blog including the host begs for facts from you. You never deliver, you just go on and on about your agenda for changing the business model and how many of your “friends” are suddenly out of work. I think you’re making it all up. Something else is afoot here. Your BS reeks of agenda!! You are not listening to anybody!!

“Real issues like the PMG”? That’s exactly what I’m talking about. Look around you, there’s only one person that PMG is a “real” issue to: YOU. You’re the only one talking about it. There must be a real reason it’s so important to you, but probably not the one you mention. Are you sure you’re not an AFM officer? They’re the only ones who fuss about the PMG.

“Talent is merely a pre-requisite to getting hired”??? Your resentment towards musicians who are doing well screams so loud I’m going deaf. You clearly have no respect for these great players.

So downbeat, I went back and re-read all your posts and I have come to one conclusion. You are focused on anywhere but LA getting a small piece of the film work by compromising the contract. Does it mean anything to you that film work has lived and breathed in LA for decades? So let’s say you want the small town’s 5% of the work to go to 8%? Or 10%? And reduce the work in LA from 95% to 90%? And accomplish this by ruining the contract altogether? Who are you, Robin Hood??

What you are is a projectionist. You accuse others of doing exactly what you do. You say that we all miss your “points”, and yet you never address what is constantly pointed out to YOU, which is that you have no evidence of your claims. And the evidence that does exist proves you wrong. About everything. You’re all alone. Is that the real underlying problem? You want to hurt people who have success so that you don’t hurt so bad?

Well, Mollie, you've done it again. Lots of personal attacks, lots of criticism, lots of politics, but not a single original suggestion from yourself as to what should be done to fix things. And not a word about the PMG question either.

I'm not going to dignify your crazy accusations (communism?) and uncalled for personal attacks with a response as I wouldn't know where to begin. I'm still trying to figure out if you think I'm (A) Hitler, (B) a Pig, (C) a Communist, when all I've talked about is AFM issues. A suggestion: let's keep this professional, not personal. You don't know me, and I don't know you, so personal attacks are meaningless and inappropriate.

Your response to mine about a higher buyout scale meaining higher "costs" for employers ignores the administrative and accounting costs of keeping the books open for years to track things in case there might be a residual due. That's the real costs that employers complain about, not the session fees. Do you actually believe people fly to Eastern Europe to record for any other reason than the fact that they offer buyouts and their session fees are lower? Be serious. Take a good, hard look at why film and TV companies are recording non-AFM if you want to see where things could be improved.

I'll end my contribution to this thread with a few facts about myself. Perhaps you'll do the same?

* I'm an ex-member of the RMA, and have worked as a professional performing and recording musician for over 30 years. I resigned from the RMA some years ago because I didn't like the direction the leadership was taking the organization.

* I have worked for several different contractors in LA on film, TV and a few videogame dates, and know exactly how political the hiring process is. Talent is merely a pre-requisite to getting hired by these folks - politics, luck and people skills are additional aspects.

* I have many good friends in LA who are A-list recording musicians, and many who are B-list folks whose work has plummeted in the last 3 years as work left town for other recording locations. I have friends who have lost marriages through divorce, lost their homes, and lost their health insurance due to this loss of work. Are they as talented as the very top A-list guys? Perhaps not, but that doesn't mean that it's right or fair that their work gets shipped overseas and their careers destroyed because employers prefer a buyout.

downbeat writes:
"I don't understand why this issue (job security) isn't a top priority with the RMA folks. Instead, their war with Tom Lee is consuming them utterly and job "security" is left to the realm of hope, politics, and lots of sucking up (not to mention having the prerequisite talent)."

Since in our business there are only two ways to hire - (1) audition and tenure for a proscribed amount of musicians, and (2) a list (yes, subject to word-of-mouth both good and bad) kept by a contractor for work that requires a different number of musicians for each job - downbeat merely repeats himself rather than showing how his desire for more "job security" can be accomplished. If downbeat has a magic formula for legislating contractors' thoughts and behavior, I'm sure we'd all find it most interesting.

Because Tom Lee is arguably the most despotic AFM president since Petrillo, the RMA must continue to oppose his actions in any way that it can. Over the years, he has shown no inclination to promote a working relationship with the RMA except on his terms.

Thank you, Robert, for all you are doing to demand better answers than empty rhetoric and agenda-driven statements. You have shown considerable passion for your fellow musicians' interest and livelihoods, especially since your time and attentions must be kept very busy with your own field of symphony issues. It's certainly appreciated by a great many people.

Isn't in interesting that the more people who weigh in the this topic, the more downbeat feels compelled to respond to each and every one - always with the same old tired unsupported arguments and claims? And it's always phrased in the same sugary text of a person attempting to make one think he really cares about people. Who does this remind you of?

Thanks again for your valuable blog and resource.

Beautifully said, Robert. Beautifully said indeed. Mmmm.... I like you.

I hate to go here and respond, really hate to go here, but good lord downbeat is an idiot. I can't even get upset about downbeat's ignorance or ultra-socialist-communist viewpoints anymore because it's so obvious downbeat is an idiot who is dying for attention.

In response--now Downbeat, I fully expect you to haphazardly steal my verbiage the way you've already done, but geez, I'll be happy if you learn.

For what it's worth, here are my ideas:

1. Create a low budget buyout agreement with an increased session fee. This will result in an immediate recapture of a significant amount of work, and the increased union benefits as a result of these newly recaptured sessions will help more musicians qualify for health insurance and stem the flow of people dropping off that important health plan. Offer a choice of the traditional agreement with lower session fees and residual clauses OR the buyout agreement with higher session payments to employers to give them a choice.

2. Offer to unionize composers. As the only non-unionized group in the film/TV business, this group desperately needs unionization and the protections and benefits that come with it, and the new revenues to the AFM would be significant.

3. Create a steering committee of AFM and RMA people, with a covenant not to sue, so all agreements will have to be hammered out without involving lawyers and lawsuits.

Your ideas? --

My ideas on your dense ideas.

1) There would be a significant loss of residuals. I understand you would not care about this because you obviously aren't a good enough musician to even have that option, but for the musicians who are good enough to have the opportunity at residuals--well, they stay. Residuals STAY. If you aren't good enough to get them yourself, it doesn't mean you can take them away from other people Downbeat. Why don't you go work on your chops instead of writing on here under a fake name (which is not at all clever by the way), and maybe one day you too could have the chance at residuals. You are going to increase costs, and you think that will increase work? You're crazy.

Moreover, your two choices are mutually exclusive. You are the best of the best musicians, not neutered and spayed puppies. Go in there and negotiate knowing what you want. If a musician wants residuals, fight for residuals. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!

2) Composers can already join the union if they are conductors. Who died and made you think you could run everyone else's life and take away other people's rights, downbeat? Who died? Hitler! Knock it off. You are such an idiot. I'm not taking cheap shots, I'm again just calling a spade a spade. You're a sick idiot who has no intelligence, and I realize you do enjoy the discourse between us because you're a PIG and when I wrestle with a pig, the pig likes it but I get dirty. It's painful to come down to your level for me, downbeat. Painful. I'm sure you do enjoy it though.

3) Covenant not to sue!!??? Yes, that's a great idea. While we're at it, let's all please stop reading books or worrying about anything in life and just allow downbeat to be the dictator. LOSER! You are a LOSER! Please remember my opinions about you downbeat, because I am not going to forget you, your immoral politics, or your ignorance. You must have the freedom to sue, the freedom to full disclosure from behind the scenes in the AFM, and the right to fight for things that are being taken from the best musicians because others are upset and won't let go of their wishful thinking. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS! Ask questions. Sue whoever you want. Don't back down from the idiots who must think they are demi-gods when in fact they are schmucks who all need to be taken out of their positions of power because, in my opinion, they are abusing their power by nickeling and diming, etc. etc. the heck out of musicians who are better than them.

It's sort of like the quote, "The measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out." Thomas Babington Macaulay

Do I need to use examples in order to illustrate my point, because I understand that could be a little over your head downbeat?
There will be questions asked. There needs to be lawyers who know musicians rights involved. You're basically saying... "hey, let's keep all of the people who know the law and who can fight for musicians' rights out of this... let's keep them out of this because then while all of the musicians who are WORKING all the time are WORKING, the rest of us who are not WORKING can figure out ways to take more money!!"

That's my translation. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!

If we want to fix the union, we shouldn't allow the head honchos (and I use that term to encompass all positions of leadership from within) to be made up entirely of musicians. We should be using only neutral third parties who have no desire themselves to be musicians and can therefore work consistently for the rights of musicians themselves, without having any personal vendetta's or their own shattered dreams being dealt with subconsciously. In the very least, there should be some attorneys in charge. Musicians are musicians. Don't give up your rights by signing off to not sue people who could possibly be abusing their power. Thanks.

Downbeat writes:

"Dennis' numbers are interesting, but to say work is "increasing" means very, very little unless you know how much the increase is, and what percentage of total marketshare (for example, scoring for US film and TV productions) that AFM work represents - and we don't know these numbers. Sure, the trend is positive, but it's marketshare that matters here to put things in proper perspective.
... what are your specific suggestions about how to recapture the recording work for US film and TV productions that is currently being done non-AFM?"

If "no one knows the actual numbers," isn't talk about "recapturing" work already making an assumption ahead of the data? That's kinda my point in asking for some real data. The data is out there; the film industry does operate rather more in the public eye than do most others, after all.

One more point. Is Downbeat asking the same questions of the AFM? Is he/she telling the AFM that their numbers are "interesting," but need to be put in "proper perspective?"

Probably not. For one thing, if the AFM has numbers, it's not sharing it with its members. More important, AFM officers don't engage in public dialog with rank-and-file. That's not a tradition that this administration started, by the way - but they could end it. I give a lot of credit to people like Phil Ayling and Tony Cooke for responding to what people have written. I'd give a lot of credit to members of the IEB for doing the same.

Hi Antony -

Dennis' numbers are interesting, but to say work is "increasing" means very, very little unless you know how much the increase is, and what percentage of total marketshare (for example, scoring for US film and TV productions) that AFM work represents - and we don't know these numbers. Sure, the trend is positive, but it's marketshare that matters here to put things in proper perspective.

As a PURELY HYPOTHETICAL example since no one knows the actual numbers, if the actual numbers are that AFM work has increased from 20% to 40% of US films (in that case you could even trumpet "WORK DOUBLED!"), that's fine but it would still mean the majority of films are scored non-union, and that would represent a massive amount of lost income to AFM musicians and revenue to the AFM itself.

So I'll ask again, since you've seen fit to take me to task for so much here, what are your specific suggestions about how to recapture the recording work for US film and TV productions that is currently being done non-AFM? Let's get beyond the personalities and deal with specific proposals.

Downbeat - thank you for your ideas. And yes, I have ideas. As to avoiding your point, it is addressed in my last paragraph. To repeat, go ahead and read Dennis Dreith's statements. They are facts supported by actual research and due diligence and they render your allegations as "mantra". And speaking of points, it is you who have avoided all of mine.

802fiddler, I'm aware of the RMA/AFM history, including the book by their buddy Burlingame. I'm simply saying things should be better in terms of job security for recording work in LA. Right now, there is absolutely none - the contractor's whims and whatever the composer can specify (despite the contractor is often hired before the composer in the case of LA's "largest" contractor) dictate who gets hired and who doesn't. A whispered comment like "we've had some problems with ---" can be enough to sink a musicians' career, despite composer loyalty. I don't understand why this issue isn't a top priority with the RMA folks. Instead, their war with Tom Lee is consuming them utterly and job "security" is left to the realm of hope, politics, and lots of sucking up (not to mention having the prerequisite talent).

Antony, you've made so many false assumptions in your last post I don't know where to begin. But I did notice that you avoided the primary point of my post - the fact that so many US productions are recording non-AFM in Seattle, Eastern Europe, via Internet, etc. I think we all can (probably) agree that's one of the biggest problems that needs to be addressed by the AFM.

Rather than go around and around with you about one allegation or another, or the COMMITTEE and what they do, let's focus on this issue, assuming you can put down your RMA kool-aid long enough to do so :-)

What, exactly would you do to recapture so much of the film and TV work that is now being recorded in these non-AFM locales? Specifics, please

For what it's worth, here are my ideas:

1. Create a low budget buyout agreement with an increased session fee. This will result in an immediate recapture of a significant amount of work, and the increased union benefits as a result of these newly recaptured sessions will help more musicians qualify for health insurance and stem the flow of people dropping off that important health plan. Offer a choice of the traditional agreement with lower session fees and residual clauses OR the buyout agreement with higher session payments to employers to give them a choice.

2. Offer to unionize composers. As the only non-unionized group in the film/TV business, this group desperately needs unionization and the protections and benefits that come with it, and the new revenues to the AFM would be significant.

3. Create a steering committee of AFM and RMA people, with a covenant not to sue, so all agreements will have to be hammered out without involving lawyers and lawsuits.

Your ideas?

Reading these pages (for the first time tonight) I found out that I'm a "Committee mouthpiece," confused, an unwitting satirist, a Lee partisan etc. It's all very entertaining and amusing -- and false. People make assumptions, presumably for their own reasons. In fact I speak only for myself; I give personal opinions and observations about politics, culture, economics and things I think are important. I don't know who The Committee (few caps) is nor have I ever talked to them. They have been nice enough to publish my writing and have a stated policy of inviting anyone to contribute.

I operate and think independently. Before I arrived in Nashville I was only vaguely aware there would even be an election, much less aware of who was running. In the course of a couple weeks, as I wrote in my normal fashion, I was accused of all kinds of things none of which had any basis in realty. Some of the guys in Nashville thought I might be on someone's payroll to make trouble. So much for the real world you like to talk about.

For the record I'm basically pro-union in that I believe collective bargaining is justifiable but I also understand unions can be guilty of excesses and abuses -- which I oppose. I believe in civic and economic liberties and understand the ease with which collectivist thinking sometimes violates these liberties in the name of "the common good." I see no contradiction in thinking that Beck was correctly decided but obviously many unionists disagree.

Rick Blanc

downbeat writes: "I am more concerned that the AFM offers its members no job security, with contractor's whims and politics deciding who among the well qualified players gets hired and gets a career, at least with recording musicians in LA. Contractors have way, way too much power, and with contractors as members of the AFM, we have an unacceptable situation."

Evidently downbeat is ignorant of both job security and hiring practices in the Film and other free-lance music businesses. Since the demise of TV/Radio and Film staff orchestras where even there a musician could be dismissed in 8 weeks, tenure in full-time symphony, opera and ballet orchestras and "right of first refusal" in regional orchestras is the only job security existing today.

A Broadway show musician has "run of the show" tenure so long as he is not on the "cut-list." When the show closes, the job is gone. If that musician is on good terms with one of the powerful B'way contractors, he may get the contractor's next show providing there is a part for his instrument(s).

There is nothing either in U.S. labor law or AFM bylaws prohibiting a contractor from being an AFM member. It is ironic that downbeat cites the biased pro-Lee COMMITTEE, a small group wanting to negate whatever security RMA members do have under the "whims" and hiring lists of a few LA contractors while at the same time bemoaning the lack of job security.

OK, I’m back. The entertainment here was too tempting to resist. Downbeat is so misinformed, obviously by the COMMITTEE and Tom Lee, that he refers to the “war” between recording musicians and the AFM as “recent”. FYI, this “war” goes back to when I was a child in the 50’s. Here’s an idea: read a book titled “For The Record”. You can find it at any book store, or you can reveal yourself and get it free from the RMA office. Or go here http://www.rmala.org/pages/rd.aspx and read what was written in 1956. As for the war on Tom Lee personally, clearly downbeat has just recently jumped into the fray here, posting with no knowledge of history going back even 3 or 5 years. And using phrases like “from all reports” and “information we’ve gathered”, that’s pure comedy - Tom Lee at his best to be precise. Downbeat knows only what Tom Lee wants him to know. No downbeat, this war is not “recent” it’s an golden oldie.

Speaking of no knowledge, the COMMITTEE, which resides in LA and whose leader is actually an RMA member, never even once contacted or engaged in any discussions with RMA leadership to air his grievances. Never once. He just came out swinging. Is it any wonder that most of these facts have no evidence to back them up? This COMMITTEE, equipped with Tom Lee’s email list and spin, makes it up as they go along. In the past few years of their existence, they have never once backed up their allegations.

Speaking of making things up, the working “Nifty 150” is more accurately closer to 1200 who have participated in film work as documented at Local 47 for the year 2008. Contrary to COMMITTEE spin, numerous musicians work for all contractors in LA, and the revolving door draws from a very large pool. And yes, they have to be qualified top notch players. For the most part, the composers pick who they want and the contractor uses the list they are given. Downbeat can go ahead and believe the nonsense he is told by THEM and Lee, but actually checking the facts from real sources will yield the truth, not COMMITTEE spin that exists only for the purpose of furthering its bitter agenda.

Speaking of “nifty”, the COMMITTEE is actually the “Nifty 5” at most. They have drawn people in with their anger. THOSE WHO SHOUT ONCE A WEEK will gather attention, enough to get some people engaged. Most of them eventually get worn out. Tom has been telling everyone that THEY represent a majority at Local 47, but elections don’t lie in landslides. COMMITTEE operatives got beaten by a 2 to 1 margin a few weeks ago. So what’s your preference, actual numbers or bitter rhetoric?

Remember Schubach, who ran for the L47 board, got beaten, then ran for President, got beaten again and then ran for Sec/Tres and got trounced 3 to 1? He was put up by Tom Lee to run each time. It was so obvious, Lee kept calling the Local to get election results. Were these results not enough to convince everyone that these folks are not representative of L47?

Oh, and speaking of contractors and “nifty numbers”, did you know that Lee’s good friend Bill Hughes, a prominent contractor in LA for live TV hires his own “Nifty 30” for 90% of his work? Why aren’t “the bitters” pointing that out and complaining? Could it be because he’s Tom Lee’s buddy? Well guess what? Hughes is entitled to hire whomever he wants whenever the choice is left to him! Too bad you can’t have it both ways - the same goes for film contractors! Hypocrisy is fun though, right Tom? Right Chuck?

Funny how nobody is talking about the eroding volumes of record work, jingle work, television work, etc. Those fields are in cardiac arrest, but Tom and company aren’t complaining. Why not? Could it be that it doesn’t serve the agenda of attacking the Film community in LA, the only AFM contract that is thriving? And since you are so sure about the so called eroding film work Mr. Downbeat (or is it Ms. Downbeat?) why don’t you share your due diligence with us and reveal the numbers that support your conclusions? Or maybe you should read the Dennis Dreith statements (actual due diligence, see Data vs. Mantra) that support reality? Hmmm... local elections, documented statistics, actual history, actual facts... now that’s entertainment!

Antony Cooke

Antony, good luck with the war against your own union. You've got your opinions, and I've got mine. Forums like this are an interesting place to exchange views in a "safe" environment. You can bury your head in the sand and pretend that Seattle isn't booming (it is), that new recording shops aren't opening up all over Eastern Europe (they are), and that internet-enabled recording sessions linking orchestras in their studios around the world to producer's studios in LA aren't growing (they are). Then, add on another new twist, right-to-work scoring orchestras including one right next door to LA (www.azscoring.com coming soon - all the benefits of Seattle without the schlep up north).

But hey, just keep on pretending that muscling the studios into accepting residual clauses from the last outfit on the planet that insists on them (the AFM) is a good strategy, keep on pretending that the other unions (DGA, WGA, etc) will support the AFM, and keep on pretending that Tom Lee is the enemy and that slaying that dragon will somehow make all the studios embrace the recording musicians and their residuals.

Compete or perish, it's that simple. The rest is all talk and bluster. Those are the brutal realities of the business marketplace for recording today. Economists say there are only 2 factors which can alter raw capitalism and the supply/demand effect - governments and unions. I only hope for the sake of all musicians that the AFM can find a way to compete successfully with the growing number of alternatives in this tough economic climate. Lee isn't the problem any more than Ayling is the problem - they are only lightning rods for the "buyouts and more work" vs. "save the residuals" factions that are currently warring within the AFM. The big picture is what needs to be considered - how do we make the AFM more competitive given the brutal realities of our competition?

This really is my last response to the asinine "Downbeat", who can't ever grasp the simplest point, and just keeps coming back with some other ridiculous curve ball.

1) You, yourself, just made and justified the "dint of luck and connections" assertion - without blinking. I guess you really are Tom Lee.
2) As for 'saving' the recording industry in Canada: it's hard to save what is already gone. There is hardly a busy studio musician in LA or Nashville who doesn't pay more in annual work dues than the ENTIRE NATION OF CANADA! Go on, name all these independent productions you claim are recorded there.
3) There can be few films not able to generate residual monies; the producers depend on this to make their product financially viable.
4) The FMSMF office reports an ever-increasing and record amount of independent films recording under AFM agreements. So much for such films leaving AFM recording in droves.

This must be my final response to you, whomever you are; if my IQ were lower, I'd really enjoy this discussion.

Mollie, your obvious seething resentment and bitterness, not to mention your high-school level personal attacks "last one picked in gym class" reveal far more than all the arguments you try to make. Your personal hatred of Tom Lee speaks for itself, and colors all you say. Your wish for bad things for Tom Lee for Christmas is sad.

You mentioned Canada - the very agreements that send recording musicians into fits (buyouts) were exactly what saved the Federation in Canada - when AFM low budget local content film/TV buyout agreements were enacted in Canada (no, I'm not Canadian!) in the 90s, it recaptured over 90% of the record work that had been previously done non-union as dark dates or in non-union locations. Production companies gladly paid a higher hourly session fee in order to rid themselves of the red tape of residual language, and since so few of those films ever made it to residual paying status anyway, musicians were far better off.

Now I wonder why that wouldn't work in the USA for low budget films just like it worked in Canada?

Could it possibly be that protecting a relatively small number of high-budget studio sessions for the "nifty 150" in LA by blindly prohibiting buyouts for low budget films that will never see new use/re-use payments and driving that work out of the AFM might be the wrong approach?

The number of films that never generate residuals vastly outnumbers the number of films that do under current AFM agreements. A little simple math demonstrates that far more musicians would gain from the recapture of these sessions than would be hurt by losing the relatively small amount of residuals on the few low budget films that ever generate them.

Good luck, Mollie. I've enjoyed the discourse.

Downbeat (and yes, this will be my last post because the fact you won't even use a real name makes me feel like I'm speaking to a fictional character),
Your flawed logic is probably why you won't use your real name. You are sitting there behind the comfort and safety of your computer spewing ridiculous flawed statements.
1) Job security? Having good people skills? Making connections? What job out there would be more to your liking? It's called only the strongest survive buddy. If you want to live in a communist or ultra-socialist society... by all means, go do it. However, this is America, and you must have good people skills to get a job, and you must know how to get clients, and you must be talented to make it out there. It's not just being a musician that requires those skills... it's any occupation where there is a high risk-high reward ratio. If you are an attorney, you better believe that you need to have good people skills, and you better know how to relate to people unless you want to do transaction work. If you are a doctor, you'd better know how to let a patient down easy, you'd better attend cocktail parties--especially if you're a plastic surgeon. If you're a businessman, you'd better be hitting up your country club buddies at the golf course, and you'd better be going from "L.A. to Chicago" like a smooth operator should (love Sade--Merry Christmas everyone).
I mean, where do you live? I'd love to guess, but well, it's Christmas Eve and I don't want to upset Santa. I was hoping he'd bless me with news that Tom Lee was finally diagnosed with bullsh*t reflux disease and will be forced to take a permanent hiatus. Downbeat, if you're from Canada just shut up now... you're already getting more than the benefit of the bargain by not having to pay the same work dues as Americans under your same contracts in some cases. If you think that's wrong, feel free to enlighten me--maybe I received bad information.

2) I don't have any "glorified illusions." Don't put words in my mouth. I never said what I do, or where my education is from, or even what (if any) music background I have. Further, how do you know whether or not I have any clue about the "scene" out here? Or there rather? Hmmm.... those are pretty bold assertions and yet again FLAWED ASSUMPTIONS.

3) Life is subjective. Your not God. I'm not God. As crazy as it may sound... Tom Lee is not God either. It's your opinion that you're better than some musicians, good for you. Pat yourself on the back. it's my opinion that you're not. It doesn't matter though, because either way... the people who decide that (who aren't God either but do provide paychecks and some pretty cool perks) have decided that their chosen musicians are WHO THEY WANT TO WORK WITH! You can be the best musician in the world, but if you don't play well with others or enjoy your passion enough to make some friends... then you're on your own. I don't even mean for that to sound bad, it's just the ugly head of truth. Is it subjective? Yes. Is it fair? Well, maybe... maybe, not. But it's how it is, and if you're not chosen to be on the team right now it's not fair for the team members to pay for you to sit in the stands and watch and applaud. You should be paying to watch them play. Not the other way around. I could make a good analogy and open up a whole new can of worms to validate my point, but I've probably just gone way over downbeat's head since he can't seem to make reasonable or minor logical jumps, so I'll save it for another person who is a little more upbeat (no pun intended).

Hope you're not too cold in that ultra-socialist blogosphere tonight. If you ever decide to use your real name or even a fake name you want to pretend is a real name, I'd be happy to continue this conversation. I'm not even a Republican either, I'm just about calling a spade a spade which downbeat is obviously entirely incapable of doing.

To sessionman: Sorry to hear that Tom refused the meeting - did he give a reason? Did both sides agree the mediator was fair and impartial? Hmm...

To Antony: I respect and understand your position, however I don't think anyone will deny that luck has a significant part of getting hired in the music business, whether as an LA recording musician, a band member, or just about any other aspect of this business. There are more great recording musicians in LA than there are jobs, so it takes more than talent to get hired. It takes connections, some good people skills, a good reputation, and yes, a bit of luck perhaps. But even when you get hired, your career hinges on contractors hiring you after that. As much as I am concerned with the Phil vs. Tom debacle (or perhaps it's Tom vs. Phil), I am more concerned that the AFM offers its members no job security, with contractor's whims and politics deciding who among the well qualified players gets hired and gets a career, at least with recording musicians in LA. Contractors have way, way too much power, and with contractors as members of the AFM, we have an unacceptable situation.

The sad thing within the AFM is the attitude that those guys over there work harder or those bands over there have with out talent and are not the cream of the crop.

The AFM mission statement is that of a Labor Union organize the unorganized etc.

I remember those terms on the AFM Logo Professional-Artist and the 3rd terms escapes me right now but it was not the work "labor".

At the end of the day Musicians are "LABOR" to their employers. that is it the employers don't care about Art or what a musician may think he or she is you can stick your nose in the air because you went to Julliard or what ever top school for music but the fact is we are all interconnect via the entire music industry world wide.

From the bar band to the biggest Symphony to Punk rockers working at festivals to the Motion picture recording musicians to those working elsewhere.

One day it is my great hope that all musicians will put down the stereo types and understand it is a business even if your a Hack Like Tom lee who had to get government welfare check to work on the Piano in the White House.

Tom is a hack, but even those musicians are connected to non military musicians.

All is one and the fact we are spilt into factions is seen with the results of bad contracts and a less than
10 % market share of the entire Northern American Music Industry workers organized.

If we would put down the jealousy and the prejudice of who plays what kind of music and OH I hate that style of music and reach forth a hand to a musician outside of our own safety zone and say If you don't get paid and treated fair I make less and work under less than perfect conditions and Vice Versa.

Then we would see change for all Musicians.

There are 3 or 3 forms of music I can not stand to hear, however I never ever think less of those musicians who work in that area-they are part of the industry and if they were AFM members the other members would benefit and the AFM would go on.

Remember you don't have to like what other musicians play or create just Honor their Labor.

Their Sonic Labor.


Michael Troy Moore

To downbeat (I can't waste any more time with you):

Now you're starting to sound like Tom Lee and his "dint of luck and connections" assertion. And then the even more ludicrous assertion that the only objective anyone could have in filing a lawsuit against the AFM is to wreck it. Where have I heard this before? Maybe you ARE Tom Lee!

And I'm sure Phil Ayling has just been dying to have your recognition that he is, indeed, a musician. I'd been told he was the devil with horns.

It ain't going to happen Downbeat. The RMA already offered a meeting between Phil and Tom with a mediator and Tom refused. Hell Tom can't even pick up the phone and call the newly elected leaders of Nashville and LA. Now that's Presidential.

Well, Mollie, let me know when you wake up from your own "glorified illusion" that it's actually the most talented players that actually get hired on LA scoring dates and are members of the RMA. If you had a clue about that scene, you'd know that it's a highly politicized system where more often than not, politics, not being the "best", is what gets you hired or not. It's a nasty world where a non-musician contractor who controls the vast majority of good recording work in town can make or break your recording career on a whim, and your union offers you zero job security.

Mollie, I know it's tough basing your entire career on trying to impress non-musicians and hoping you'll continue to be hired despite a parade of talented graduates from Julliard, etc looking for work, continuing to tell yourself that you're "the best" simply because you've done whatever it is you've had to do over the years to get hired. The reality of world competition for your jobs against fantastic recording musicians in London and Europe who offer buyout deals every day must really be a scary wake-up call. I wish you luck.

In the meantime, this is not about me, or Mollie, or any one musician. It's about the policies of the AFM and those recording musicians who are attempting to wreck the AFM through lawsuits, war chests and threats.

Robert said, "Of course the AFM has a choice. It can engage the community of recording musicians in a real dialog or they can fight an unnecessary and expensive legal battle with their own members. Sadly, they seem to be making the wrong one."

I would say it slightly differently, since the recording musicians are the ones filing the lawsuits, not the AFM:

"Of course the recording musicians have a choice. They can engage the AFM in a real dialog or they can fight an unnecessary and expensive legal battle with their own union. Sadly, they seem to be making the wrong one."

What I wouldn't give to de-politicize and de-litigate this entire situation and just sit Lee and Ayling down in a room with a professional labor arbitrator, in front of their peers and members, and not let them leave until they have a deal in place. No more threats, no more posturing, no more bluster, etc. Just two musicians working out a deal for the benefit of those they represent. That's my kind of "Happy New Year".

Downbeat,
Jealousy is an evil thing. A very evil thing. Sorry that not every musician is created equally or is equally talented in life. What is going on in the AFM is sick. I'm allowed to have an opinion on it. You're allowed to have an opinion on it. My opinion is that some very jealous people who suck as people and who are not as good as other musicians are so jealous of the brilliant musicians getting work that they will fight tooth and nail to take things from these truly magical men and women to thus feel more validated in life. It's sick, it's outrageous. It shocks my conscience. If no one speaks out about it, this injustice and truly disgusting behavior will continue. The recent work dues and extra pennies the AFM continues to take and take and take from the "rich pricks" in L.A. who are actually - I would like to correct - "TALENTED and GIFTED MUSICIANS that are just better than you" is a pure example of jealous people trying to take a piece of the pie that doesn't belong to them. It's hard. I know. It's really hard to make a living as a musician if you're not the best of the best. That's life, but don't take anything away from the people who are just better than you. Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, did I get enough love as a child? Then work on your own chops to become a better musician or go into a different field. Life is full of options, but don't take anything away from these musicians in New York or California or Tennessee who are "working" and are just better than everyone else. They worked hard for it. They deserve the rewards. In my humble opinion, the people running the AFM are the ones who aren't working... so they have cleverly discovered a way to take from those who are working in order to help support musicians WHO ARE NOT AS TALENTED, HAVE OTHER JOBS, or are running a faulty organized union. Does that make more sense now? Didn't mean for you to think I was making a blanketed statement. It's just that the writers of this blog are doing such a wonderful job, I didn't feel the need to state my opinion. However, those are my opinions and I would be happy to have a knock down drag out with you about them... because... well, I'm right and you're wrong. We're all entitled to our opinion and thank god we live in America where we have the First Amendment, which I am oh so familiar with in all of its various nuances.
Good luck to you... maybe one day you'll just call a spade a spade and stop living in your world of glorified illusions. Dreams are hard to let go of sometimes.
I know, it's tough to be the last one picked in gym class.

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