Bringing Back the Work

Volume CVII, No. 11November, 2007

Joel LeFevre

There is growing evidence that New York recording musicians can compete in the global marketplace.

In late September, a session for 28 musicians was brought back to New York from a planned date in Prague. The project producer and composer, after looking at budgets, assessing the quality needed and the hassles to be avoided, decided to do the recording project in New York.

For the past several months, Local 802 has been able to demonstrate to producers and composers that for many projects — if you consider the entire budget — staying in New York is competitive with Prague and other Eastern European destinations.

For a recording project that goes offshore, the budget includes airfare, hotel and local expenses in addition to larger engineering fees. (Engineers don’t spend two days on an airplane for free!)

Given the declining value of the dollar and increases in airfares driven by increasing fuel prices, going to Prague can save producers perhaps 20 percent at best— not the 50 percent claimed by those marketing offshore recording centers.

In other words, whether to record a score in New York can once again be a decision driven by the quality of the musicianship rather than price alone.

Recording in New York also has many obvious benefits.

For the session in question, which was a direct-to-DVD film to be used in-house for the Lord Abbett investment firm, the string section nailed two passes of the music in 90 minutes, even though they had been scheduled for three hours. The brass did two passes and left 15 minutes later.

For producers, hiring New York musicians means quality and efficiency. (Plus, when you’re done, you’re in New York, not 4,000 miles from home!)

Michael Whalen, the composer on this session, said, “When I said ‘It’s Copland-esque,’ the musicians knew what I meant. It’s not like other places, where if I said the same thing — or if the translator did — the musicians look at me with blank faces and I know they are thinking ‘What is that crazy man in the white shirt at the front talking about?’ And I thought we’d still be here an hour from now. Fantastic.”

Bottom line: when music budgeters make knowledgeable budget comparisons, New York will get other projects back from overseas.

If you’re planning a recording session or know someone planning a session, contact the Local 802 Recording Department.

Get the facts on how you can bring it all back home, utilizing the quality and professionalism that New York musicians bring to any project — all while staying within the budgets with which you have to work.


At press time, Allegro learned that the AFM and Local 802, working with the music contractor, were able to get Koch International to agree to do three sessions for the guitarist Earl Klugh as union sessions. Union sessions include full SRLA scale, and all benefits, including pension and health.