You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

American Federation of Musicians Threatens to Expel Grammy-Nominated Video Game Composer (EXCLUSIVE)

The American Federation of Musicians is sending mixed signals to its members this week: threatening a Grammy-nominated video game composer with expulsion, while also trumpeting a new contract with producers and networks whose specifics are being kept under wraps.

Austin Wintory, who was charged last January with violating union rules for recording his score for “The Banner Saga” video game under non-union auspices in Texas, was found guilty by the union’s International Executive Board and fined $2,500. Wintory is refusing to pay the fine on principle.

“Doing so would be to agree that their failed policies, selective tactics and threats work,” he said. Failure to pay the fine by Jan. 19 will result in expulsion. Wintory says his lawyers are “dealing with the realities of the board’s ability to expel me.”

The AFM board’s actions puts it in conflict with its own Local 47, the L.A. local, which not only passed a resolution supporting Wintory in October, but praised him in a front-page story in its own inhouse newspaper for his “strong support of the use of AFM musicians [and] applauds his efforts to bring more work to AFM and Local 47 musicians.”

Wintory said that, instead, he would write a $2,500 check to Education Through Music – Los Angeles (ETM-LA), “where the money can be used toward building on dreams instead of destroying them.”

Game composers have been critical of the AFM for years, contending that the union’s existing game recording contracts contain provisions that publishers refuse to accept. A December 2012 agreement hasn’t been used at all; a new one created in June 2014 has been used only once.

Game publishers are turning increasingly to Nashville (Tennessee is a right-to-work state, where AFM members can work non-union) and London to record music. Wintory attempted to record “Banner Saga” with L.A. musicians but, he said, it was twice as expensive as recording in London and added extra fees related to future uses of the music.

Meanwhile, the Recording Musicians Association (RMA), the “player conference” within the AFM that represents many studio musicians, announced over the weekend that the union had concluded negotiations with the AMPTP on a new multiyear contract for recording TV and film scores.

Details of the pact, however, were being kept under wraps Sunday. Musicians are expected to be informed of the details late Monday during meetings of the RMA and Local 47 membership.

Local 47’s new leadership will take office Monday, with new president John Acosta and vice president Rick Baptist expected to be more responsive to the growing number of dissenting voices in the 7,000-member local. Many are unhappy about the steep decline in recording work, which they blame on companies that flee L.A. because they can get better deals in London or Eastern Europe.

More Music

  • R. Kelly

    R. Kelly Is ‘Going Down Hard,’ Criminal-Defense Attorney Predicts

    When R. Kelly was arrested on child-pornography charges in 2002, after a videotape emerged that purported to show him having sex with an underage girl, he managed to have the case dismissed through a combination of skillful lawyering, repeated delays (the verdict did not come down for six years), and the fact that the girl [...]

  • Carrie Underwood House

    Carrie Underwood Lists Former Mansion Outside Nashville (EXCLUSIVE)

    Pop country music queen Carrie Underwood has listed her lavishly appointed mansion in a guard-gated golf course development in the affluent suburban community of Brentwood, Tenn., about 20 miles south of downtown Nashville, for $1.45 million. The seven-time Grammy winning fourth season “American Idol” winner isn’t seeking much profit on the property she bought for [...]

  • Here’s How Much Money 10 Artists

    Here’s How Much Money 10 Artists Are Owed by PledgeMusic

    For eight years, PledgeMusic was a success story: A direct-to-fan platform where artists worked directly with their audiences to fund their albums, tours and all stripes of merchandise, with fans able to purchase everything from custom guitar picks to private concerts. Yet last June, Variety broke the news that the company is struggling to pay [...]

  • R. Kelly

    R. Kelly Charged With Multiple Counts of Sexual Abuse

    UPDATED: The Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announced criminal charges against R. Kelly at a press conference this afternoon. The singer has been charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four victims — three of whom were minors — in incidents that took place between 1998 and 2010; he will have [...]

  • Lil Pump Harverd Dropout cover

    Album Review: Lil Pump's 'Harverd Dropout'

    On the cover of “Harverd Dropout,” the sophomore album from Miami rapper Lil Pump, the young MC is tossing homework papers in the air and looking rakish with his graduation cap askew, while wearing a robe emblazoned with the misspelled university name from his new full-length’s title. If this is meant to signal some sort [...]

  • Imagine Dragons - Dan ReynoldsImagine Dragons

    Imagine Dragons Topples Nickelback as World's Worst Band, Says Slipknot Frontman

    Slipknot and Stone Sour frontman Corey Taylor has chosen Nickelback’s successor as the most reviled band on earth: Imagine Dragons. During an interview on Tuesday, February 19, conducted by Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones for his  radio show, “Jonesy’s Jukebox,” on Los Angeles’ KLOS, Jones made a comment about Nickelback being the “scapegoat of rock [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content