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California Tax Credits to Benefit Scoring, Recording Musicians

Composers are applauding the move.

Los Angeles musicians are hoping that new California Film Commission regulations will keep more film- and TV-scoring jobs local, after years of productions heading to London or Eastern Europe as more financially attractive recording alternatives.

The state budget, signed Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown, includes an update to California’s Film & Television Tax Credit Program that will encourage productions to create scoring jobs by adding points to their application for tax credits.

American Federation of Musicians Local 47 President John Acosta explained: “The new system truly incentivizes production companies to commit to scoring in California in order to successfully earn bonus points that go toward their approval for a tax credit. The greater the scoring budget, the more points the production will receive, acting as a further incentive for producers to allocate more funds toward their music budgets.”

Union officials said that the more bonus points received, the greater the likelihood that a tax credit will be approved. Approximately 300 to 400 productions apply each year for the $330 million allocated, and about 100 of those are approved.

The commission considers the number of jobs and budget size, and the tax rebate is generally 20% to 25% on all production costs, officials said.

Composers applauded the move. “As composers, we thrive on collaborations with different local musicians and performers,” Siddhartha Khosla (NBC’s “This Is Us”) said. “A program like this keeps more music jobs local, broadening our community, allowing for more collaboration and ultimately making our final products better. The financial benefit to local musicians is a no-brainer, and I believe the art will benefit too.”

Added composer John Debney (Fox’s “The Orville”): “I am thrilled to see that Gov. Brown signed the bill, which adds music production incentives. “We have the greatest musicians in the world here in California and these incentives will mean more scores recorded here.”

The program will be a boon not only to musicians, but also engineers and other music-support staffs, violinist Marc Sazer, president of the Recording Musicians Association, pointed out. “It will create a beneficial ripple effect for the entire workforce involved in the recording community.”

Acosta praised members of the California Film & Television Production Alliance, bill authors Majority Leader Ian Calderon and Sen. Holly Mitchell, the Keeping the Score in California Coalition, and other supporters.

“It will take time for this new and powerful element of the tax credit program to work its way through production decisions, and produce real jobs for musicians and others,” Acosta noted. “But once that happens, we expect tremendous success for musicians, composers, and all those whose jobs depend on this signature California industry.”

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