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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » The Banner Saga - Music Composer Speaks Out Against Union Blockage

Default The Banner Saga - Music Composer Speaks Out Against Union Blockage

June 10th, 2014, 14:26
Austin Wintory the music composer of The Banner Saga is facing a $50.000 fine from his own union, AFM, for composing the music in the game. In 2012 the AFM has created a Videogame Agreement which has to be signed by game developers in order for AFM members to be able to work with them. According to Wintory the agreements has not been rejected by game evelopers, making it officially imposisble for AFM members to work in the games industry. Watch the video or read the story below it for his take on it.



I, Austin Wintory, am facing a $50,000 fine from my own union for - The American Federation of Musicians - and have decided to speak up against my union's blockage of ALL new video game recordings

Several years ago Ray Hair, the President of the American Federation of Musicians put together a Videogame Agreement working committee to develop a new game agreement.
The new Videogame Agreement was approved by the AFM's International Executive Board and went into effect December 2012. This new contract was done without allowing any composers, musicians or any of the 90,000 members of the union given an opportunity to vote on it.

"The new administration, was deeply committed to fixing the videogame mess," explained committee member and Recording Musicians Association (RMA) President Marc Sazer at the time. He also predicted, incorrectly, that "the new agreement should induce employers to sit down and negotiate with the AFM."

Nothing could be further from the reality of what happened.

The end result was an agreement that was universally rejected by every single video game developer and publisher, and has gone completely unused since the day it was created.

For almost two years now, under this contract, no union member has been allowed to work on a new video game soundtrack as a result.

"Unfortunately employers have not signed the current agreement," admits AFM Local 47 Vice President John Acosta who represent the recording musicians of Los Angeles, "and the limited work we were doing before has all but vanished into non-union land."

This contract created an untenable situation. Composers and musicians have continued to need to earn a living in this industry. Those musicians and composers therefore we've been forced to work without union sanction because the union has failed to signed any video game companies to work with them in almost two years.

After having successfully recorded the iOS game HORN with AFM musicians, I attempted to do the same with THE BANNER SAGA. The unusable contract forced me elsewhere, and I soon found the remarkable Dallas Wind Symphony. This collaboration happened as a direct result of the AFM's unusable contract, and I am now being punished for simply doing my job under those circumstances.

In an article telling entitled "Education and Discipline in the Videogame Industry," AFM President Ray Hair declares, "The time has come for education and discipline," "within our ranks" as well as within the Video Game industry.

"I don't think anybody give you anything because they like you," said AFM President Hair recently, "In the union business they give you things because they are afraid of what you are going to do to them."

Simply put, this current leadership does NOT represent me, and I believe does not represent the best interests of AFM musicians.

If you feel inclined to, please show your support by sharing this video and commenting on it below.
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June 10th, 2014, 14:26
I'm not anti-union, but I don't see how a union can implement a contract or a rule without members voting on it. Isn't that what unions are all about, democratic representation of members?

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June 10th, 2014, 15:17
That's only one perspective. The other is that unions try to establish standards and fight everone who doesn't implement them. Especially their own members.

It's about power.

Well, the Prague Symphonic Orchestra is a great supporter of this American composer union.
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June 10th, 2014, 15:50
There's much unclear here. Why is this new agreement so bad, can we get some explanation of that? Seems this is it just a case where video game producers will get musicians working against guild rules anyway - or possibly not members of the union, so they don't bother to sign it.
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June 10th, 2014, 16:50
It's obviously about money. The stuff about compensation is probably so out of this world that it is de facto prohibitive.

There was something similar in Germany. The biggest artist royalty collector decided that game composers shall be paid by units, not by flat fee. This organization is an all or nothing shop. As a member you cannot split your titles between "you market them" and "I market them".
As a result the number of *active* game composers who are members is zero. Members can't get a single contract, and members aren't hired by companies who want contracts.

If I can get a complete sound track written for, say, 10k$ flat … why would I even consider to hire a composer according to union terms ?!
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June 10th, 2014, 17:14
What? No anti-union rants in this thread? Clearly this is not a US-based website…

Good job folks!
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June 10th, 2014, 17:18
I'm not against unions either, but it seems like this one has shot themselves in the foot. Wouldn't it be better to try to make a workable contract the video games makers would sign, rather than reducing their members' job opportunities?
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June 10th, 2014, 20:24
Originally Posted by ChaosTheory View Post
What? No anti-union rants in this thread? Clearly this is not a US-based website…

Good job folks!
I think it's because Hollywood execs at least have bipartisan unpopularity?
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June 10th, 2014, 22:52
Originally Posted by Gorath View Post
If I can get a complete sound track written for, say, 10k$ flat … why would I even consider to hire a composer according to union terms ?!
It's all about capitalism, in the end. Maximizing profits, reducing costs at all costs.

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June 10th, 2014, 23:11
Originally Posted by jhwisner View Post
I think it's because Hollywood execs at least have bipartisan unpopularity?
Ha, probably.
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June 10th, 2014, 23:11
Originally Posted by ChaosTheory View Post
What? No anti-union rants in this thread? Clearly this is not a US-based website…

Good job folks!
I was floored too! o.o I expected a 90-comment-long right-wing ragefest xD
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June 11th, 2014, 01:45
Perspectives on unions vary greatly. You do realize your anti-anti-union attitude is just as closed minded and bigoted as they can be.
I have watched unions achieve success for their industry.
I have watched unions kill their hosts like parasites.

Individual judgements for individual cases.

In this case the fine is absurd. It's clearly not working as intended and is a power play that one of their members dared step out of line and must be punished.
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June 12th, 2014, 07:01
intriguing story… i, too, would like more numbers. still, you can't have it both ways, right? if the union doesn't represent you, you have to drop out, you can't just fuck over your union members regardless eh?
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