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January 18, 2009

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An attempt was made at a continuation of the RMA/IEB negotiation for peace. The IEB at first was amenable to continuing talks that would include Phil Ayling, who waited outside the door. Inside, Tom Lee pressed his Board, perhaps one by one to exclude Phil from any meeting. He eventually got his way and the meeting did not take place.

So that’s our AFM President. A guy who can convince his board not to meet with the President of a Player Conference for reasons based on assumptions - not facts, and uses fear as his primary tool. A guy who wants to pick and choose who represents players based solely on who agrees with him or who will go along with his agenda.

And that’s our IEB, a board that does not have the collective spine to stand up to Lee for what’s right. Most of them, I believe, know the right thing to do. They’re scared, confused, and they put politics first and representation last. The very idea that they condone his child-like whining about Ayling is pathetic in itself.

Lee’s goal is to be destructive to a group of successful musicians, whether or not the entire AFM is destroyed in the process. So many know this to be true, yet nothing is done to change it. Not a leader in the bunch.

Our only hope is that Local officers of the AFM start to see the true enormity of the danger that Lee poses to this entire organization, and have the balls to get off their collective butts to do something about it before it’s too late.

Current,

Actually, that's one of the points. The RMA is always trying to take credit for ALL recording musicians in it's propaganda. Only if you want to do film in LA, considering the closed shop, do you have to bother with the RMA. There are even those who record in film here who aren't members, the RMA is just trying to look bigger than they are.

The number in LA may be 1000, but my understanding is that it's closer to 900, and that the total number of RMA all told is about 1,600, putting the lies to the latest RMA mailing about thousands of RMA members.

Not surprisingly, they never point out that the majority of real recording musicians aren't even members of the RMA.

I have been working on sessions in LA for 12 years and have never been given an election ballot, or told anything about the PMG. I have been asked if I would like to buy tickets to the RMA night party, and have done so several times. I understand from the RMAC meeting last week that there are around 2,300 recording musicians qualified to be in the bargaining unit, and as the RMA has less than 1,000 members (including many composers) it seems that there are a lot of musicians working in recording who are not members.

Oh but I forgot, that doesn't fit with the AFM's view, it's just some real FACTS.

Sessionman,

Obviously, you have not been to many large Los Angeles sessions with the elites. I have and continue to be. There are always the little moles in little circles watching who talks to who, and the requests for money for participation in groups such as the PMG (Illegal anti-union group the moment they do a session), or the buying of RMA Nite tickets, or even them handing out election ballots with orders on who to vote for or in some cases with the ballots already filled out "for their convenience." with the obligatory disapproving looks if you don't go along, and if you don't, you wonder how many sessions that will cost you.

If you talk to the wrong person, that can cost you trouble too.

Many composers I've talked to who've left LA say part of it is the attitudes of the players and the arrogance and entitled attitude of many of the players, regardless of how the group actually sounds.

Keep those blinders on Sessionman

Unfortunately Ric, the reality of demo and record sessions is to create a good vibe. The wrters, artists, and producers want everyone to be "happy" and into the session. A bad attitude from a player can destroy a session. It's much easier to hire a great player that brings a good spirit to the session. In Nashville very little is written out. Everyone pitches in to make the track. It's like a ball team. You work together and leave the attitude at home or you don't get invited back. It's a bit different than how they do things in the auto union or electrical workers union.

Sessionman, inadvertently, has revealed something interesting about his mental culture, and perhaps that of his colleagues. He said that in Nashville "the jerks stay home," while the others, presumably non-jerks, work. Apparently this is the way he would characterize how things function under the Nashville oligarchy system. Highly subjective evaluations are made and these are decisive.

Contrast this to the "professional" system wherein professional behavior is expected, players understand professionalism, one is hired on the basis of ABILITY, and other highly subjective factors, e.g., jerkdom, are relegated to minor importance, if any at all.

Recording dude. The guys that are doing the work are going to get called first. Buyout or no buyout. You proved it by attacking the musicians that took the gig under less than adequate union contract,They didn;t call you. They called the guys that are doing the work. The guys that are dependable and easy to work with. Not the guys that may be more talented but are assholes. Nobody likes bitter session musicians.

There are a lot of producers using low budget record agreements in Nashville. Unfortunately the threshold for low budget is set way to high but never the less we have to live with it . Who gets called first. The regular group of boys and girls. The lower cost contract did not create work for a second tier of musicians. It's the same guys that play on the records. There are always a few that are hooked in with the big producers and leaders but at some point the tide changes and a new group of "hot " guys comes along. That's just evolution. You can't control it by dumbing down contracts. The good guys will keep getting called. The jerks will stay home.

Yet they do buyouts with a contract that they refused to use, until of course they might lose work... so much for principle. That is hypocrisy of the first order...If you don't get it Robert, then I gave you too much credit. You're fooling no one.

I wasn't trying to "fool" anyone, which is one reason I post under my own name.

What I don't get is how a union musician is guilty of "hypocrisy" of any order at all by working under a union contract. Nor do I get how RMA-bashers say time and time again how videogame work should be brought under contract under pretty much any terms that the employer is willing to accept.. and then criticize musicians for working under that contract.

There is no moral obligation for union members to refuse to work under union agreements if they think the union screwed up by signing those agreements. To say otherwise is to convict all those ICSOM musicians who fought for the right to ratify their agreements of hypocrisy for working under agreements their locals negotiated - badly - without their input or approval.

Cutting off one's nose to spite one's face is not the opposite of hypocrisy.

Robert,

Don't go playing dumb now. The whole thrust of the RMA argument is NO Buyouts, NO way, NO how. It's the whole reason for the PMG, the Lawsuits, the Threat and Fareplay. That's their MO,... control.

Yet they do buyouts with a contract that they refused to use, until of course they might lose work... so much for principle. That is hypocrisy of the first order.

If you don't get it Robert, then I gave you too much credit. You're fooling no one.

The last posts by our boy are practically impossible to respond to, except for his assertions once again that work is leaving LA!! Anyone can call Local 47 for definitive statistics showing that LA work has actually grown. Our posters apparently have not made that call. So to call db a liar is far too simple, as there is something much deeper at play here.

Someone posts that he created another alias, and he denies it. He denies almost anything related to his identity, and hides behind highly implausible claims of who he is. He hides from his so-called fear of “repercussions from RMA LA contractors”(Jan. 12). For goodness sake, there’s no such thing as an “RMA LA contractor,” a term only an outsider could dream up.

Someone posts stats and facts, and he diverts to PMG and other topics.

Ask him a question, he changes the subject and asks an off topic question, demanding an answer in multiple subsequent posts.

Catch him with an erroneous statement, and he throws in one of disingenuous comments.

One day he knows more about current events inside the AFM than most people I know, the next he knows very little and wants to learn.

One day he insists this blog is about opinions, the next he’s demanding long lists of specifics and facts that he will twist and/or ignore.

He supposedly loves the AFM, but hates the RMA and defends Simon James! If he at least condemned James, you’d get a sense of balance.

The LA recording scene is a relatively small community. If one has been working here for 30 years as he claims, it is highly unlikely that he is not familiar with Antony Cooke, Sue Ranney, or that Bruce Bouton works in Nashville. Like his twin poster, he called me “Tony” or called Susan “Sue”. He’s awfully familiar with those he claims he does not know! Alas, I believe he is certainly very familiar with both of us.

Conversely, there is no such personality that any of us are familiar with espousing such hatred for his so-called “A-list” with his particular style of writing, twisting, denying, wild factoids, wild conclusions and assumptions of what will certainly be better for the AFM.

If I had the time and inclination to outline the hundreds of examples on this blog that reveal this poster's fabrications and twists, it would be endless. Following each reveal would be a denial followed by diversion after irrelevant diversion.

What lies underneath the irrational diatribe of hatred for the financial success of thousands of LA based film musicians over several decades, however, is something I am very familiar with. His main motivation is not to offer up alternatives to those on the periphery of the film business, as he preaches. No indeed. The goal here is to insure, through buyouts and diluted contracts, that financial success enjoyed by Los Angeles based musicians comes to a permanent halt.

I have endured eight years of listening to Tom Lee say the same things, use the same phrases, employ the same “logic”, perpetuate an irrational war and blame the very people he “represents” rather than actually represent them - over and over again.

One more time: This is posturing for the upcoming film negotiations.

Again, refer to the Readers Digest article:
Reader's Digest Article
History is repeating itself.

anotherrecordingmusician wrote:

Only the terms under which the elites are willing to work will affect the amount of work they do. If you know anything at all you know that it's the secondary markets that have made work leave.

Who else would be to blame Robert: Orchestral musicians?; Casual Musician?; wedding musicians?; Nordstrom pianist?; the odd accordian player?

You're being intellectually dishonest, and I'm sure you know it.

...Ask some of your recording buddies about the WALL-E video game!... what did those OH SO ELITE better than thou musicians do? They took the money and did the gig. So much for principal, right?

"Principle," to be precise. But let's not quibble about spelling.

I don't understand the logic behind the first thought. I've never claimed to be an expert on what's happening with the scoring business; that's why I've called time and again for some real data.

And, if I read what you write about the WALL-E situation correctly, it was done under a union contract. I don't think there's anything hypocritical about working under a union contract that contains terms one disagrees with. I do that every working day of my life.

Sorry if any of that seems "intellectually dishonest" to you.

Downbeat,

I've been reading this blog for a while, but never bothered to write in because the minions here have no desire for truth, or what's right. They want what they want at the cost of everyone else.

These folks are the BUSH/CHENEY administration by any other name. One of them mentions that the AFM is supposed to serve ALL members, and that's true, but if the RMA had it's way it would serve only them, hence they ran their little puppet Hal at the last election.

I also wouldn't be surprised if they ran Ayling at the next Local 47 ele3ction in 2 years.

For myself, I hope the RMA does bail on the AFM. They can leave their AFM contracts behind, and become the scabs they profess to hate. They can become just another new era scoring. Then the AFM can make the changes they need to for the benefit for the other 98% and take the scabs work away from them.

I'd spend less time on here trying to convince them of anything. If it's not for their benefit they don't care. It's like teaching a pig to dance: It fails every time, gets you muddy and pisses off the pig.

But take heart downbeat, after all, you're not them and don't have to see them when you look in the mirror in the morning.

Steve,

And by the way,....

"And who's accused the AFM of "losing recording jobs?" The key question is whether their behavior might put that employment at risk."


The AFM is risking getting more than just you back to work. Can't have that can you?

The AFM has been allowing work to leave by not being competitive. If they make us competitive, we'll get work back. The only problems is the have's selfishness and greed. As I've read in committee mailings, the elites certainly know that LA is burning. but as long as they're the last ones fiddling, or playing oboe, it doesn't matter.

Robert,

You're not being honest. You cannot blame the AFM for the loss of recording work in Los Angeles, unless you don't live there and have no clue of the reality of the situation.

Only the terms under which the elites are willing to work will affect the amount of work they do. If you know anything at all you know that it's the secondary markets that have made work leave.

Who else would be to blame Robert: Orchestral musicians?; Casual Musician?; wedding musicians?; Nordstrom pianist?; the odd accordian player?

You're being intellectually dishonest, and I'm sure you know it.

But it gets better! You know those NO BUYOUTS, NO WAY, NO HOW elites? Well, they've been doing buyouts!

Video game buyouts to be exact! Don't want to believe me? Ask some of your recording buddies about the WALL-E video game!

The Pete Anthony crowd was told, either it's the buyout scale/contract, or it goes out of town. And what did those OH SO ELITE better than thou musicians do? They took the money and did the gig. So much for principal, right? I wonder if Sue Raney was there.

They've done a few other buyout videogames too.

They're blowing smoke out of both sides of their mouth, and if you didn't know that you're being played too.

The phrases/words RMA and principals generally are pretty foreign to each other.

So Robert,... let's try again, you know the answer:

Can you name even one recording job that LA AFM recording musicians have lost because of Lee, Folio, the IEB, or any of the AFM leadership that you vilify and demonize here?

downbeat writes:

"Seattle is the Frankenstein that was created by the AFM's "no buyouts, no way" policies, following the RMA's advice, for many years."

Well, he's got that half right. Seattle was created over 20 years ago by on unresponsive AFM president who didn't listen to the Symphony players' request to put their local in trusteeship. They then left the AFM. The PMG was created over 2 years ago by an AFM president who didn't listen to the players who were doing most of the videogame recording sessions.

He has also said he believes that I've belittled part-time musicians even though I've reiterated that I do not disrespect them, thereby calling me a liar. For whatever reason musicians are not full-time players, the union has no business trying to write agreements for them that would undercut agreements under which full-time players make a living.

Well, Bruce, if you really want to open up the Seattle discussion, fine with me. BTW, I thought you were in LA, my mistake. Never been to Nashville, don't know the scene there.

But help me understand how the RMA has the slightest ground to stand on when it comes to criticizing anything or anyone for working in Seattle, when certain high-ranking RMA leaders have received a "free pass" for their own personal activities there?

Or how RMA leaders can feel free to record non-AFM, such as in London, for far bigger projects than in Seattle, yet you think Seattle is the big problem?

If Seattle is to be outlawed for AFM members, then you can't just pick and choose who you want to go after - the rules must be applied equally to all. That's always been the problem with the RMA types I know (not too many, admittedly) - they always felt they were superior to other musicians. But they're going to Seattle and London just like many others, because that's where the work is for certain projects. And what about composers who are AFM members and record non-AFM? And why is there work in Seattle? For only one reason: the AFM refuses to provide a buyout contract for those companies that operate under that business model. Seattle is the Frankenstein that was created by the AFM's "no buyouts, no way" policies, following the RMA's advice, for many years. If the AFM offered a reasonable buyout, even at higher scales, I doubt Seattle would be in business for very much longer. People would come to LA for better players, even if it cost more.

If Simon James had violated any AFM by-law, he would have been shown the door years ago, I'm sure, just like any other member. If you want to attack those going to Seattle, fine, but apply the rules to ALL, no exceptions. That means applying threats or whatever punitive measures you want to propose to ALL AFM MEMBERS who are involved in Seattle productions, not to mention the production companies that put "NO AFM MUSICIANS" in their contracts these days. I wonder, why isn't the RMA out in front of those companies picketing and generating some press? It is YOUR jobs that are being directly attacked by these contractual provisions, which are out of control of the contractor, composers, etc - these are production company decisions which are the MAIN DRIVING FORCE that creates the Seattle work. Seems like that would be a far better use of the FAREPLAY warchest than suing the AFM.

And please, don't tell me discussion about these issues is "off-topic" - the thread is titled "Why unions?". If a union is unwilling to fairly and equally apply rules already on the books (like the one prohibiting AFM members from working in Seattle), what does that say about the effectiveness of the union at all?

Downbeat: "Do we really want or deserve to see the future of the AFM/RMA battle decided in private by a chosen few? I think not."

Downbeat (a few days ago): "Perhaps it's time to give negotiations another chance?"

In my experience, negotiations that succeed invariably happen "in private" between "a chosen few." If you want negotiations to succeed, you'll not be broadcasting details to allies who then publicize your side's version.

The clearest indication that the RMA is trying to settle this and that the AFM isn't is the fact that the RMA has, to date, kept what happened confidential and the AFM - hasn't.

Hey Downbeat now you are really showing your true colors

"Perhaps as an RMA official you'll break the "code of silence" and tell us what the real goal of the PMG is, what happened to the money collected from musicians to join, and how you believe that creating and funding a competing union to the AFM should be responded to positively by the AFM?"
Talk about off topic. You sure sound like someone else I know. Who are you trying to fool.
I know one person in the PMG and his name is Mark Sazer. As far as I know the PMG has done nothing since since they began, which was over two years ago. Conversely Simon James operates in Seattle as an AFM member in good standing. Go figure. "Splain" that one to me chief, since you seem to know a lot of shit about everything else.
I live in Nashville where there is no PMG. Nobody cares about the PMG .
People in Nashville are much more concerned about the misguided policies of the Federation and the potential threats to our ability to make a good living. In addition they are fed up with the lack of inclusion in the decision making process.
Nashville musician don't need a PMG. Instead we have Local 257.They were sick and tired of being betrayed by their local officers so they voted them out of office. We now have strong local leadership that actually understands todays music business.
And Pal, this one takes the cake " Bruce - Sorry for the typo, let me be clearer - you are the first person I know of who has claimed that the COMMITTEE report on the AFM/RMA summit meeting was not accurate."
Duh.... I was there. . I know what was said. You actually expect the educated people that read this blog to believe the info reported by the " Commitee" reported by you.Two anonymous sources. Is that called double heresay. Or was it reported by you ,then the COMMITEE. I can't remember. It just keeps going round and round.

Robert, all we have here is a lot of claims from various parties with vested interests and no details provided. I have no reason to believe the COMMITTEE report was 100% accurate or 100% wrong - it was obviously a leak since no one else is talking about it. But until someone with authority goes on the record with details, I'm not going to dismiss the entire thing.

Frankly, we as members deserve to know EXACTLY what went on at that meeting, given the high stakes of what's involved for everyone. When Bruce says he was there, that the COMMITTEE report was wrong, but won't say to what degree it was wrong, what aspects of it were wrong, or provide corrections, what are we supposed to do? If he was a neutral observer, that might be one thing, but he's an RMA official dealing in an adversarial situation with the AFM, so he can be expected to speak from the RMA's point of view, and look out after their interests. Same for the AFM mgmt.

In the end, we're left with the COMMITTEE report and Bruce's blanket statement that the report was somehow incorrect or inaccurate. Lots of smoke, but where's the truth in all of this? Confidential for those in the "in crowd", apparently, and the in-crowd has determined that the rest of us don't deserve to know what happened at the meeting. Do I believe Bruce? Sure, why not. But since he has not claimed to what extent the report about the meeting was inaccurate, and which parts were accurate and which were not, he hasn't given me enough to go on in terms of a final judgement. We can only hope that more truth comes to light about this so all AFM members can judge the actions of our leaders based on facts, not guesswork and leaks. Do we really want or deserve to see the future of the AFM/RMA battle decided in private by a chosen few? I think not.

Downbeat: "Bruce - Sorry for the typo, let me be clearer - you are the first person I know of who has claimed that the COMMITTEE report on the AFM/RMA summit meeting was not accurate."

If the meeting was supposed to be confidential, then why do you believe second-hand reports from someone who evidently violated that confidence? And why do you think that others' refusal to violate that confidence somehow proves that the leaker was right in every respect?

We have left "are you still beating your wife" territory for "the fact that you don't beat your wife proves that you beat your wife" land.

Bruce - Sorry for the typo, let me be clearer - you are the first person I know of who has claimed that the COMMITTEE report on the AFM/RMA summit meeting was not accurate.

Bruce, no I wasn't there. I quoted a report that came out in one of the COMMITTEE newsletters. You are the first person I know who has claimed the report is not accurate false, but of course, you won't say what was false about it. And again, you provide not a single specific to back up your accusation that I "speak with a forked tongue", and now end your participation in the matter.

Perhaps as an RMA official you'll break the "code of silence" and tell us what the real goal of the PMG is, what happened to the money collected from musicians to join, and how you believe that creating and funding a competing union to the AFM should be responded to positively by the AFM?

[crickets]

Hey Downbeat. You've been speaking about the IEB /RMA meeting as if you were there. Were you???
I was there.Your version of the truth doesn't jibe with mine.So unless you were there, i wouldn't be so quick to tell readers what happened. If in fact you were there then you'd be a hypocrite for betraying a meeting that was supposed to have happened in good faith and most importantly kept in confidence. This will be my end of this discussion.
i'm beginning to feel like I'm in "Groundhog Day"

Antony, I'll respond one last time to your allegations, for the record. Here goes:

"Twist #1": The sentence where I was trying to clarify 802fiddler's definition of "the working musicians" included the redefinition in quotes in order to highlight it and compare it to the definition he used. Anyone reading the sentence would get that, and it's common punctuation in these cases. It's obvious from the sentence and context that I was trying to clarify his words, not change them.

"Twist #2": Bruce directly accused me of speaking with "a forked tongue". I asked him to back up his allegation. He failed to provide a single specific fact that I posted that he says is false. End of discussion on that!

"Twist #3": I honestly believe 802fiddler's comments DID belittle part-time musicians, as he said he only includes musicians who make their primary living from music in his definition of "the working musicians". Part-timers work too, just not full-time. I strongly disagree with his choice not to include part-time musicians as "the working musicians" (his words, to be clear) and said so. He then, in his latest post, introduces the term "hobbyist musicians" for part-time musicians, apparently. Sorry, but all part-timers are not hobbyists - word that clearly has the connotation of being a non-professional. There are plenty of part-time musicians in the AFM that apparently 802fiddler wants to relegate to "hobbyist" status, which I strongly disagree with. In a great variety of fields of work today, from law firms to accountancies, lots of professionals are working part time in order to raise families, etc. Full-time vs part-time is only a matter of work schedule, not talent, professionalism, or ability.

The "Big Twist": You can only guess at Lee's intentions, like any of us. I prefer to focus on the current and past results of his actions, which have not cost a single RMA-LA player a single recording job from what I can tell here. Now, if you want to look a little harder at that, the LA recording musicians' mass-cancellation stunt at The Simpsons videogame sessions cost plenty of recording musicians work for those sessions, and may continue to as the SF players reap the rewards of that disastrous mistake. My point is, if you want to predict what YOU think Lee's actions might do in the future, then predict away, but please don't present it as fact. It's an educated guess, nothing more, nothing less.

"The Deception" - When I said I could support 2 classes of AFM members - full-time and part-time, I never, ever linked that with the part-time class doing buyouts - that's YOUR language, not mine. As far as I'm concerned, all agreements should be available to all classes - when classes end up excluding a member from work, that's a good idea gone way too far wrong. Classes should be used for voting, ratificaiton, and determining dues. That's all.

"The Defining Event" - Frankly, I don't see what's so wrong about offering employers a choice. Especially given the RMA's stated rhetoric that higher scale wages (which should be a part of any buyout contract) will not go over well with employers. For those employers, they'll choose the "strings attached" version with special payments clauses and lower up-front wages. Others will pay more up front for a buyout. Choice is good, as it allows better compatibility with a wider range of employers who use varying business models, in my opinion.

While you won't answer a single question I ask, I've addressed each of your many allegations directly and factually. Perhaps that, more than all your wild accusations and conspiracy theories, speaks to our respective willingness to speak directly to the issues. As for me, as I said before, I've had my say here and you can think of me what you want. Thanks again to Robert Levine for giving us the platform to have these discussions, which I've learned a lot from.


Sorry, Antony, but anotherrecordingmusician is not me, and I'm not him or her. Sorry to rain on your conspiracy theories. And as for his/her comment on Susan Ranney, I don't have a clue who she is - apparently anotherrecordingmusician is familiar with her career according to the post.

As far as their picking up on my question about how many jobs that the AFM has cost LA recording musicians, I still think it's a good question, which is why I asked it a couple of times. Unions are about jobs, and not just about protecting those who are fortunate enough to work currently, but taking actions and creating policies to build more and more jobs so that unemployed or underemployed members can work more too. But we've discussed this ad nauseum and I don't want to start that up again.

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