Composer & Industry Supporters
(EGOT winner of Academy, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Awards)
“I cherish my relationship with the family of musicians in Los Angeles. It is a bond built on respect and admiration for their talent and for their dedication to the work we have done on film and television soundtracks over so many years. They have my full support in upcoming negotiations with major studios because it is important that we keep the film and television music industry strong and vital — and here in Hollywood.”
Producer (Lost, Alias, Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
“The musicians who perform on film and TV soundtracks are the secret weapon of cinematic storytelling. The passion and precision with which they play their instruments are more often than not what elicits the audience’s emotional response. If you’ve never attended a scoring session, you must. To witness dozens and dozens of musicians receive their score for the first time – and minutes later, at the tap of the conductor’s baton, play a cue in perfect unison – is just about as miraculous a thing as you’ll ever see. The role these priceless performers play – underappreciated and grotesquely underpaid – cannot be overstated. I consider myself lucky beyond words to have been associated with films and TV series that have benefited from the collaboration with these extraordinarily gifted people.”
Director/Producer (La La Land, First Man, Whiplash)
“I support the AFM musicians in their fight for residuals from New Media projects. Los Angeles is lucky to have the best musicians in the world, and that is due to their ability to make a real living playing music here for movies and shows — which is in turn due in large part to residuals. The dedicated and passionate instrumentalists who perform a movie or show’s score contribute just as much as the choir and vocalists who join them (and who are fairly compensated under the SAG-AFTRA deal). Their humanity, unique idiosyncrasies of style and tremendous skill are what make live-recorded scores so special and so irreplaceable, and what make recording in L.A. such a privilege and an honor for filmmakers such as myself. It is for these reasons that I sincerely hope these invaluable artists can be fairly acknowledged for their contributions.”
Composer (Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, The Polar Express, Ready Player One)
“Forty-two years ago, when I asked my beautiful wife Sandra to marry me, an esteemed member of her family requested a ‘heart to heart’ with her. The family respected her decision but just wanted to make certain she was aware of the fact that, by marrying a musician, ‘she would never have anything in life.’ A bit simplistic maybe but the message was rather clear. The musician’s chosen path in life (certainly the financial aspects of it) can be most challenging, filled with ups and downs, even in the best of circumstances.
“For so many years before my 45-year career began and, I predict, for so many years beyond its eventual end, the musicians of L.A. have and will continue to be the gold standard for excellence in the performance and recording of music for film. I specify ‘Music for Film’ because, along with all of the performance artistry great musicians are required to master, there is an additional skill set particular to the performance and recording of film music. These skills take years of experience to perfect and are an additional (often unknown) component to the excellence of our recording musicians.
“If we want music in our films and on our televisions we need to care for it and that means caring for our musicians, the makers of the music. Markets and delivery systems of 'content' have changed drastically over the years and will continue to do so. What hasn’t changed is a young committed person, sitting in a chair, day after day, passionately practicing and perfecting their art to the benefit of us all. Music won’t exist without musicians, and musicians won’t exist without the help and support of all of us whose lives are enriched daily by its very presence.”
Composer (The Lion King, Pirates of the Caribbean)
"I am consistently indebted to the amazing musicians I work with for bringing their talent to the music we create together. It is their work that really helps to bring these films, television shows and projects to life. They have my full support as they head into negotiations so that they can be fairly compensated for their fantastic work."
Composer (Toy Story, Monster's Inc., Cars)
"I write to you on behalf of the Hollywood Studio Orchestra and its musicians who comprise one of the finest musical organizations in the world. Since the 1930s the music written and recorded for film has proved to be an essential part in the growth of the motion picture industry. Hollywood has had way more than its fair share of the best musicians in the world. Stuart Canin, John Williams, Felix and Eleanor Slatkin, the Hollywood String Quartet, Vince DeRosa and many others. Musicians from all over the world know who these people are and are highly appreciative of their work.
“As studios and producers are in the process of formulating new schedules for the distribution of income from streaming they have yet to acknowledge the fact that musicians are their creative partner and deserve to have, at the least, a tiny piece of the pie. The new schedule of payments, far from giving the musicians the residual payments they’ve always had, actually serves to lower the basic payment they receive. Clearly, the musicians are part of the 'talent' yet they are not rewarded like the singers who record the same music in the same room.
“I could go on and on but I already have. The Hollywood studio musicians are without a doubt the most versatile group of musicians in the world. They can play anything and play it convincingly. In this, I believe, they are unique. Berlin, Chicago, Boston, Vienna, New York, Cleveland – they all have great orchestras but the Studio Orchestra is a great orchestra with versatility none of the others can match. I’ve loved the sound of the Studio Orchestra since I first heard it, I think when my Uncle Al was recording the score for The Gunfighter. I’ve heard it many times since then, obviously, and it sounds great every time, well, almost every time. These musicians deserve to be treated with respect but so does everyone. Anyway, give it up for the band.”
Composer (Mission: Impossible theme, Dirty Harry)
“Music is a universal language, that does not need subtitles. It makes a contribution to Los Angeles inhabitants. Can anybody imagine a house without music? The Los Angeles musicians continue to give special signature to the happiness in our way of life. I think it is very important to support the Los Angeles musicians in their quest to fair wages.”
Composer (Purl, The Wind Gods)
“I value the studio musicians’ contribution to motion picture scores. They add depth and beauty that cannot be replaced. They deserve a fair contract. I wish them the best in their upcoming negotiations.”
Composer (La La Land, First Man, Whiplash)
“I'd like to lend my support to the incredibly talented AFM musicians in their fight for residuals from New Media projects. Residuals are a significant part of their livelihood, and it's important to me that studio musicians can continue to work and thrive in Los Angeles. I can say from my own experiences in the studio that the wonderful musicians who bring humanity and personality to the music (and sometimes even improvise) aren't contributing any less than the terrific choir and vocalists (who are often recording in the same room) who are fairly compensated under the SAG-AFTRA deal. I hope we find a way to fairly pay our musicians in this new age of streaming so that we can continue recording great music in Los Angeles.”
Composer (Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
“Since the golden age of the great musicals down to the present day, the contribution of Hollywood’s soundtrack recording musicians has been colossal.
“In the world of cinema, these ‘behind the scenes’ artists have set the universal standard for many years and are certain to their leadership role for decades to come.
“They are truly among the greatest contributors to our country’s artistic life and they are a cherished resource in which we can all take great pride.”
Cleto Escobedo III
Bandleader, Cleto & the Cletones (Jimmy Kimmel Live!)
“I stand with my sister and brother musicians and fully support actions to gain a fair contract in streaming media."
Composer (House of Cards, Monk)
“During my six years of composing for House of Cards I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have some of the finest musicians in the world (the Los Angeles AFM players) performing on my score. Their artistic excellence, facility and range have enabled me to tell cinematic stories in the most compelling and dramatic way imaginable. As our work shifts to a digital distribution, our creations are frequently rolled out day-and-date in 190+ countries.
"It is my sincere wish that within this new model, we can update our musician’s contracts accordingly — we must fairly compensate them for their work. In doing so, we will ensure the livelihoods of these artists, and nurture the resource of talent we are so fortunate to have here in Los Angeles.”
Composer/Orchestrator/Arranger (Godzilla, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Argo)
“As the daughter of a successful L.A. studio musician, I am acutely aware of the time, dedication, talent, and tenacity it takes to make a good living playing in the recording industry. Now, having spent many years as a composer, arranger and conductor in the L.A. studios, I am even more appreciative of those who choose to make their lives in music despite the odds. The musicianship in Los Angeles is better than ever! However, we are living in a time and a culture which is increasingly devaluing music.
“I wholeheartedly support my AF of M colleagues in attaining the fair and proper contracts due them in the upcoming negotiations. It is imperative that we keep the work here in Los Angeles!”
Music Director/Bandleader (American Idol, The Tonight Show)
“I wish the AFM Los Angeles musicians much success going into their important upcoming negotiations. They have been invaluable to me in my work over the years and they need to continue to have good working contracts. I give them my full support.”
Composer (Rocky, The Karate Kid, The Right Stuff)
[Statement sent to AMPTP Oct. 11, 2019]
"It’s hard to imagine a movie or TV show without music and in many cases the music is the primary emotional element. Why aren’t the musicians and the music as valued as other artistic contributors are? The time has come for musicians to be treated fairly for their talented and essential work."
Composer (Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Little Shop of Horrors)
[Letter sent to AMPTP Oct. 1, 2019]
“By way of introduction, I am Alan Menken, the composer of Little Shop of Horrors, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and The Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Enchanted, Tangled, etc. I've been honored with 8 Oscars, 12 Grammys, and 7 Golden Globes.
“I feel very confident in stating that the Los Angeles musicians who work in the film and television scoring are among the best in the world, if not the very best. They dedicate thousands of hours to their craft, and they work with extreme focus to meet the demands of composers and productions. But as large studios prepare to expand, by launching their own streaming platforms, the musicians’ contracts are not evolving appropriately. I am writing today to give my support to the American Federation of Musicians. And I call on studios to pay musicians standard residuals for streaming as our industry moves into the future.
“It is my experience, having produced numerous recordings of my works internationally for years, that the Los Angeles community of studio recording musicians are bright, skilled, passionate, quick and efficient artists who deserve to be part of the ‘talent’ aspect of the film-making process, as opposed to the ‘crew’ side of the production. They should be given the same financial considerations as the rest of the ‘talent’ unions when it comes to the ever-growing importance of New Media and streaming services. Let me call your attention to the fact that vocalists, performing on the same soundtrack (and often on the same stage and in the same room), are part of the SAG-AFTRA Guild and they therefore receive structured residual payments for New Media and streaming production. How fair is it to have such a considerable disparity in compensation by having the recognition for the choir but not the instrumentalists?
“In the name of equity and fairness I urge you to come to a just decision for a viable residual offering to compensate and nurture the heart and soul of our beloved film industry by recognizing those who provide its life stream... the music.
“Thank you for your time and attention.”
“I want to wish my AFM musician friends the very best in their upcoming negotiations.”
Composer/Orchestrator/Arranger/Conductor (Harry Potter)
“I wholeheartedly support the AF of M musicians as they negotiate for a fair wage and benefits. The studio musicians we work with are a priceless asset, not only in the artistry and work they do on a daily basis, but in the impact that work has on our society and culture.
“Expecting musicians to work for less than a fair and decent wage undercuts their ability to continue to work and make a living. It impacts everything in their life...and the lives of their spouses and children. It’s unthinkable to me that anyone would want to diminish the quality of their work by weakening a musical environment that has contributed so wonderfully to the success of motion pictures, television, song recordings of every type, video games, concerts, commercials... any medium that features recorded music. That makes no sense.
“When you consider the contributions that musicians have made to the success of every medium that uses music, working to ensure that musicians are paid fairly for their invaluable work would seem to be the very least that could be done to acknowledge the critical importance of the music they create.”
“The Los Angeles recording musicians are hands down the best in the business. They have dedicated their professional lives to realizing the demands of film composers and motion picture studios at the highest professional level. In my opinion, their contracts for work performed for streaming platforms should reflect their extraordinary expertise and dedication. Therefore I give my full support to the AFM’s efforts to negotiate contracts that will provide fair compensation for these outstanding musicians.”
Composer (Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Jungle Book)
“Wishing the AFM Local 47 musicians the very best in their upcoming negotiations.”
Composer/Past President, Society of Composers & Lyricists
“In a time of ultra-sophisticated filmmaking, what is it that music provides which no other post-production element can?
“The importance of music is affirmed in that one question and, when something is that valuable, that essential, it and those who create it should be compensated appropriately.
“I support the musicians as they have always supported me!”
President, Society of Composers & Lyricists
"The AFM musicians who lend their extraordinary talents to the scores we compose are the best in the world and they deserve to be compensated accordingly. The life they bring to our music so often exceeds our expectations, and while the mode of delivering entertainment is evolving, their expertise and dedication to excellence remains the same. There is absolutely no reason why other artisans who work on the same productions are afforded additional payments for additional media while the musicians, orchestrators and copyists of the AFM are not."
Entertainment & Labor Union Supporters
National President, SAG-AFTRA
“Working people in the entertainment industry must face the changes in our business together. For generations, we have fought for quality jobs and won. Now, as the industry moves toward new media, we believe it is time to stand together again. Our members recognize the tremendous value that musicians bring to our films and television shows, and we support their demand for a fair contract for streaming.”
Vice President, AFT/UTLA
“Many of Los Angeles’s teachers are also professional musicians, and almost every musician is a teacher for someone. United Teachers Los Angeles stands together with the professional musicians of the AFM in demanding that musicians working on streaming and new media projects receive fair pay and residuals. Our students deserve no less than for us to ensure that there are good jobs out there when they graduate, and we cannot allow the good jobs attached to our proud film and television industry to be replaced with poverty wages in new media.”
National Secretary/Treasurer & LA Chapter President, SAG-AFTRA
“All 160,000 members of SAG-AFTRA stand united with you for good pay and fair working conditions. It’s not new media. It’s now media. And it’s time that they start paying. We’re all artists and performers, and it doesn’t matter if we’re in front of the camera, behind the mic or playing an instrument. We all deserve fair compensation regardless of what platform on which our work is being displayed.”
Board Member, Writers Guild of America West
“We writers know that music is a crucial element in bringing our stories to life. Musicians make invaluable contributions to our film and television projects, whether they’re made for traditional outlets or streaming services. The Writers Guild of America West stands together with musicians to demand fair pay and respect for their work.”
Political Coordinator, LA County Federation of Labor
“On behalf of the LA County Federation of Labor and its 800,000 members, we are proud to support AFM Local 47 in your contract negotiations and express our support and commitment throughout. New media and streaming services are the future. Seeing that the way we consume, the way we produce, is changing, the way we compensate the workers who put the talent behind that entertainment needs to also be reflected in the work. For musicians to have a real future they need a contract that deals with new media fairly and one that continues to provide good-paying jobs.”
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