Video Game Music Composer May Get $50K Fine By His Own Union For Working
from the workers-unite? dept
It’s a strange thing to me when a union, say, the American Federation of Musicians, turns on one of its own members or even non-member musicians. Now, I’m supportive of the concept of organized labor as a general idea, though I certainly recognize that unions quite frequently fall into all the same trappings of any unwieldy and large organization — where the original intent and the eventual results are quite different. So when the AFM demanded an apology from a musical artist simply for speaking his mind against a Canadian bill that the union supported, I could only scratch my head. But when that same AFM union goes after one of it own members for the crime of making video game music, a thing that I love, that’s when I start to get really angry.
What’s most striking in that video to me is the clear and obvious passion with which composer Austin Wintory speaks about working on game music. Still, the back story here is what makes it so ridiculous. AFM management constructed a contract for video game composers without the input of the union’s own membership, a contract that is so one-sided that not a single game developer even hesitated to reject it completely, and constructed an ecosystem in which no AFM member could be hired with union sanction to perform his or her craft. For two years, the music in games was either made by composers not in the AFM or by composers who just ignored the AFM’s rules. The union failed to benefit in any way. Then, when it discovered that one of its members, who had been vocally critical of the contract, had the gumption to actually make a living, the union threatened to levy a $50,000 fine against him.
Unions have a terrible reputation in this country because of stories like this, which is a shame. This union is an example of how not to behave, in making demands that will never be accepted, refusing to consult its own membership, actually coming out and suggesting that it chiefly operates through fear and intimidation, and going after its own members for daring to make a living doing what they do best (the kind of thing a union should be supporting, not hindering).
“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.”
And the solution to that is to levy fines against one of your members instead of negotiating a contract that will actually get composers back to work under the union umbrella? Please.