×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Musicians Union Holds Rally to Protest Outsourcing of Film Scoring Jobs

Using the Kevin Costner film “Draft Day” as an example, the American Federation of Musicians on Thursday launched a campaign designed to stop producers from sending scoring jobs to musicians outside the U.S.

At a Westwood rally attended by about 75 musicians and members of other unions, AFM president Ray Hair contended that Lionsgate accepted $5 million in Ohio tax credits but then “outsourced” the music by recording it in Macedonia.

Lionsgate did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Although Lionsgate and “Draft Day” (pictured) were in the spotlight, the union rally was designed to launch a campaign, called “Listen Up!”, to focus attention on the precipitous decline in work for L.A. studio musicians because of a growing trend to record film scores in London, Prague, Bratislava and other cities. Union officials said their goal is to have the use of union musicians be a condition for productions that receive tax incentive coin.

“Over the last decade, music employment has dropped dramatically,” Hair said, complaining that many production companies and independent studios are going overseas to record, effectively picking “millions of dollars from the pockets of taxpayers and professional musicians.”

He cited Lionsgate’s “Twilight” and “Hunger Games” franchises as other examples of movies shot at least in part in the U.S. but not scored by American musicians.

AFM Local 47 president Vince Trombetta said that some L.A. musicians have seen their income decline by as much as 50% in the past few years. L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz decried runaway production generally and said that below-the-line film workers such as musicians are often hurt the most.

The reduced workload for L.A. musicians is currently a hot topic in the music community, and a controversial one because of the role of residuals paid to U.S. musicians who play on union scoring dates.

The major studios and TV networks are signatories to the AFM contract which demands these payments, but many production companies and smaller studios (including Lionsgate and Marvel) are not, allowing them to record scores outside the U.S. and avoid these payments (which can range from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands depending on the success of the film).

There is movement among some musicians to try and reverse the tide of overseas recording by urging union execs to give up these back-end payments that have been in the AFM’s contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers contract since the early 1970s. Those residuals provide big checks annually to hundreds of the most in-demand studio musicians.

Many composers say they are told by these companies that they will not score union specifically because of the residuals clause, and that if they insist on scoring using AFM musicians they will not get the job.

Hair, however, told Variety that the AFM will not give ground on residuals.

“The AFM is not going to bargain away the residual structure that we have,” he said. “All the other guilds have residual structures as well, and the folks who sign our contracts say that the residuals for musicians compared to residuals for the other guilds is so minor, they don’t even pay any attention to it.
“Trying to focus on the residual portion of our agreement isn’t really the total picture,” Hair said. “The answer lies in getting state governments to (include) post-production in their tax credits.” He said the AFM is now talking with California legislators about making this a reality.

The AFM has been joined by other unions in this effort. Reps from AFL-CIO, IATSE, SAG-AFTRA and WGA joined the musicians at the event, as did reps from the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy and Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice.

More Music

  • Billie Eilish

    Billie Eilish Fans to Receive Perks Due to Chicago Venue Change

    Billie Eilish and her music agents at Paradigm are experiencing what most would call a first class problem. The demand to see the 17-year-old singer live has prompted a change of venue for her June 9 show in Chicago — from the 5,000-capacity Aragon Ballroom to the 20,000-plus-seat United Center arena. The last-minute venue change [...]

  • Moby Natalie Portman

    Moby Accuses Natalie Portman of Lying as the Two Spar Over Dating Claims

    In what’s become a he said/she said spat in multiple mediums, Moby, the elder statesman of electronic music, is now accusing actress Natalie Portman of lying and pleading to those on social media for his safety as “physical threats from complete strangers” emerge. To recap: this month, Moby released a new book, “Then It All [...]

  • Ellen DeGeneres Buys Adam Levine’s Beverly

    Adam Levine Cashes in on Sale of Max Mutchnick’s Former Mansion to Ellen DeGeneres

    Adam Levine and Behati Prinsloo have sold a baronial Beverly Hills mansion with an illustrious chain of ownership for a reported $45 million to Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi. The mainstream radio rock star, who, it was announced Friday, will not to return as a coach on “The Voice,” and the Namibian-born Victoria’s Secret [...]

  • Kanye West Shares a Memory of

    Kanye West Shares a Touching Memory of His Mother in Letterman Interview

    In a preview of David Letterman’s interview with Kanye West, which begins streaming next Friday, May 31, the musician’s wife Kim Kardashian West, tweeted a clip of him sharing a touching memory of his mother, Donda, who died in 2007 after a surgical procedure. While his wife looks on smiling, West answers Letterman’s question about [...]

  • Dan the Automator

    Heeding the Call of Olivia Wilde, Dan the Automator Scores 'Booksmart'

    Dan The Automator, aka Daniel Nakamura, knows a thing or two about setting a mood. The Bay Area-based producer has worked on projects such as Gorillaz’s debut album, Handsome Boy Modeling School (with Prince Paul) and multiple projects with rapper Kool Keith. Now, Nakamura has set his sights on film scoring, and will make his [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content