L.A. Music Jobs Travel Far From Hollywood Stages

LA music Jobs travel far from

Insiders blame residual commitments, incentive coin for pushing more gigs overseas

Just as production flight from Los Angeles has been decades in the making, the reasons for the decline in work for musicians on film and TV projects are deep-rooted. But while there is agreement that solutions won’t be easy, there are differing opinions as to how to solve the issue.

Marc Sazer, president of the Recording Musicians Assn., maintains that the current tax incentive schemes in California and 44 other states across America aren’t just harming the livelihoods of thousands of professional musicians in Los Angeles, but are a misuse of tax dollars.

In particular, Sazer says the current development of companies accepting tax dollars from California and other states and then taking scoring jobs to England is particularly unseemly. “I understand if a producer is receiving English tax dollars and scoring there, but if the idea of California incentives is to keep production here, that has to include musicians as well,” he says.

Sazer maintains that incentive programs need local hiring safeguards to ensure that film and TV scoring jobs are protected.

SEE ALSO: L.A. Mayor Declares State of ‘Emergency’ As Movie, TV Production Flees Hollywood

Conversely, top composer agent Richard Kraft of Kraft-Engel Management advocates a need for musicians to rethink their approach to the issue of runaway production. At issue, he says, is the 1% of video revenues companies must pay American Federation of Musicians members who work on film and TV projects.

Kraft, who last year launched the blog BringMoreRecordingtoLA.com, notes that the music for the six top-grossing films last year were all recorded in London. “Of all the films released in the first half of 2013, only perhaps two dozen were recorded (by members of the) AFM,” he says.

SEE ALSO: Where in the World Will the New ‘Star Wars’ Films Shoot?

Kraft says the union needs to be flexible about backend payments, and maintains that they help a relatively small number of musicians who get the lion’s share of work. “Composers have learned how to adjust their deals to the needs of clients all over the world,” Kraft says. “That kind of thinking is long overdue in the leadership ranks of Los Angeles film and TV musicians.”

Meanwhile, classical music expert Jim Svejda describes the working Hollywood studio musicians as the greatest on Earth, toiling at “the most lucrative gig in classical music.”

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    1. All six of the top grossing films of last year were recorded in London. None were made using LA or California tax incentives. Not sure why the leaders of Los Angeles musicians would feel entitled to those recording jobs when the taxpayers of California did not contribute anything towards these production. There are LOTS of great reasons to record in Los Angeles (including our ideal location, top musicians and legendary scoring stages), but trying to co-op tax breaks from other states is not one of them. I really hope our extraordinary local music community wakes up in time to become smart, proactive and progressive in finding modern and innovative ways to entice new customers to elect
      to record in L.A. before the exodus can no longer be reversed. Griping about the creaky red-herring issue of state tax incentives (especially when the states providing the incentives aren’t even ours) is a colossal distraction that does nothing to actually bring more recording Los Angeles. A MUCH better approach would be to focus on attracting business the same way London does… by offering recording solutions that provide great quality AND make business sense in today’s market.

    2. Dave says:

      oh I’m sorry, which films or tv shows got tax incentives shot in LA or California yet recorded their scores overseas? oh that’s right: none. Some films shot in OTHER states, like NC and Ohio, (Iron Man 3 for example) scored overseas. Yet the article doesn’t check Sazer’s information.

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