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December 04, 2008


Now that the COMMITTEE'S politics has been repudiated in Nashville and LA, perhaps R. Blanc, C. Fernandez et al should move on to Local 300 where the local president/bandleader/contractor is only too happy to publish their drivel.

Robert, I don't really understand why you think the current AFM policies towards the recording musicians are "insane" - perhaps you could elaborate?

For years, the RMA dictated AFM policy for electronic media, including film and TV scores. And for years, a lot of that work was driven out of the AFM by the RMA's insistance on back-end payment clauses in ALL film & TV recording contracts while the rest of the world evolved into a buyout business model for music recording. While the A-list studio RMA guys in LA did fine, a lot of other musicians suffered dearly, with more than a few quitting the AFM and moving to Seattle where non-AFM work is plentiful.

Now, finally, the AFM is starting to realize that the massive losses of union sessions and the entire industry of non-AFM recording locations that has now been created in large part due to the very RMA policies the AFM had followed for years was a disastrous mistake. 20 years ago Seattle had no real film/TV recording industry, now it's booming, along with all kinds of new players in that game, especially in Eastern Europe. Why would an American film company schlep all the way to some Eastern European country to record their score? Simple: they, along with the rest of the world, offer a buyout. Sure, they're saving some money on session fees, but they're also spending a lot in travel, equipment shipping, lodging, etc etc not to mention the uncertainties of international customs, etc.

It seems clear that the RMA policies of the past, while clearly favoring top LA studio musicians, have resulted in net losses in terms of lost session work for a great many AFM players. And once a company goes to Seattle and is satisfied with the product, the ability of the AFM to sell them on ANY restrictions (ie anything short of a buyout) becomes exponentially more difficult. The AFM's $50,000 fine threat against those going to Seattle, allegedly at the urging of the RMA, did no good for the AFM and only exposed the blatant hypocrisy of targeting one non-union locale while RMA leaders and top RMA members recorded buyout work in London. "Do as I say, not as I do" comes to mind here... I'll bet there's not a single LA orchestrator, including the current RMA-LA President, who hasn't done plenty of work in Seattle.

While the argument certainly can be made that those doing the most work should have the most "say" in how AFM recording policy should go, we have to take a step back and look at why those with the most work actually have that work, and why so many others have lost work or have been forced to give up their careers as recording musicians due to the exodus of work away from the AFM due to the lack of a competitive buyout contract with London, Seattle, etc. Sure, talent is a big part of it, but there are far more talented musicians than there are jobs. In LA, the whims of a single contractor, who isn't even a musician, can easily make or break any recording musician's career - can you imagine having your entire livelihood hanging by a thread with a non-musician holding the scissors, ready to cut that thread and replace you with a younger or more compliant replacement with no notice, no recourse, no appeal, and no union action available to you to appeal that action? You're just "not called anymore" and your recording career can be over or seriously damaged just like that. And you wonder why so many of the comments that the COMMITTEE receives, not to mention the COMMITTEE itself have chosen to remain anonymous??

Seems to me, if the AFM really wanted to make a difference, or the RMA for that matter, we would see some workplace policies in place that would make the arbitrary dropping from employment of musicians be an action where a union member would have some sort of recourse through the union. But in LA, with the RMA/Local 47 and "the" major contractor in town on such intimate terms, there's hardly the arm's length relationship that any sort of union worker protection would need.

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