musicHere’s some advance news of tonight’s 2nd informational meeting of the Association of Media Composers and Lyricists, hosted by Teamsters Local 399 and located in the Writers Guild Theater. This composers’ movement towards unionization with the Teamsters for better benefits is gathering momentum and tonight there’ll be a progress report on efforts since the 1st get-together last November.  Presently, the AMCL Organizing Committee consists of: Bruce Broughton, Sean Callery, Alf Clausen, Ray Colcord, James DiPasquale, Richard Gibbs, Christopher Klatman, Vivek Maddala, Richard Marvin, Mike Post, and Snuffy Walden.

And I’m told that, at tonight’s meeting, big names like James Newton-Howard, Hans Zimmer, Tom Newman will be announced as strongly supporting the unionization effort by composers with Teamsters Local 399. “Musicians are a community and we have to protect each other,” Zimmer, who recently met with Teamsters’ lead organizer Steve Dayan and spokesman Bruce Broughton in the composer’s office at Remote Control Productions, stated publicly today. “I think we older composers, I think I am an older composer now (reluctantly I say this!), it is our duty to help the young composers. Otherwise the music will just disappear.” In other AMCL news:

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) Executive Committee has unanimously approved a series of actions endorsing the fledgling AMCL composers union and designed to address working conditions for composers in the area of free/spec music requested by producers as part of a “spec-off” or “bake-off” competition among finalists for a scoring job.

The AMCL’s pact with the WGA is complete separate from any future negotiations with the motion picture and television producers (AMPTP). While the AMCL has focused on health benefits and pension in regards to potential negotiations with the AMPTP, the specific workplace conditions addressed in the WGA pact makes it clear that negotiating better workplace conditions and pay for composers is also a priority of the AMCL as it delivers immediate benefits to composers. The details and terms of the WGA/AMCL agreement are expected to be top discussion items at the AMCL meeting tonight at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills.

At their meeting on March 2, 2010, the Writers Guild of America Executive Committee unanimously approved the following letter sent February 5, 2010 by The AMCL/Teamsters’ Local 399 Organizer Steve Dayan to WGA Executive Director David Young:
I’m writing to ask for the support of the WGA in the organizing effort you and I have discussed on behalf of Composers & Lyricists. We have four requests we’d like the Guild to consider.

1. We’d like a general statement of support for our organizing effort. Here is draft language to give the Guild an idea of what we’d like to see in a statement:

“The Writers Guild of America endorses the organizing effort to unionize Composers & Lyricists under the aegis of Teamsters Local 399. We believe that Composers and Lyricists deserve the same benefits enjoyed by all other entertainment industry workers, both above and below the line. We stand together with them in their campaign to win an industry-wide contract and finally receive the working conditions and benefits they have long been denied”.

2. We are requesting the use of the WGA Theater to have a meeting with the Composers & Lyricists and perhaps members of the press in which John Wells, yourself or whomever the Guild designates reads the general statement of support.

3. We would ask the Guild to consider sending out a notice to Show runners to make them aware of the issues confronting Composers & Lyricists in Television which we believe affects Guild Members as well (i.e. The Wanda Sykes Show).

Here are the issues we’d like to make Show runners aware of:

“Dear Guild Member,
Recently, rewrites for WGA members on network prime time shows have come under scrutiny by the Guild as some of our members have asked for clarification on what constitutes a re-write. Just as no producer or network should ask WGA members to work for free, the Guild is writing you to alert you to a similar situation that exists for Composers.

Currently in the Television industry, Composers are asked to write scores on spec as part of a “spec-off” to get employment. Composers are asked to adhere to timing notes (as an example, for three cues, totaling 9 minutes of music) for which composers receive no pay. Composers must submit fully realized scores that are ready for television for free and this is the rule, not the exception. In order to compete in today’s marketplace, Composers are required to deliver to employers:

-Free composition
-Free recording
-Free arranging
-Non-union buyout of musicians
-100% of the Composers publishing rights
-Unlimited re-writes
-A contractual clause that prevents budget over runs despite the number of changes made by the employer.

The Guild believes once writing at any level is seen as /”free” /it compromises writing on all levels.”

4. Lastly, we would ask the Guild to consider publishing an article in its publication of “Written By” highlighting the issues confronted by Composers & Lyricists.

David, our respective organizations have worked closely together over the years and on behalf of Leo, the Composers and myself, we appreciate your consideration of this matter.

Steve Dayan
Business Agent / Organizer