Why record music for film in New York?

Myths vs. facts...

Volume 112, No. 11November, 2012

It is a well-known fact that New York City is one of
the most creative and diverse musical environments in the world. Local 802’s
great musicians – from the fields of Broadway, symphonic, jazz, urban,
hip-hop, folk, country, rock, pop, experimental and world music – comprise a
pool of talent second to none.

Combine all this musical talent with a
cash-in-your-pocket New York State rebate for qualified post-production expenses
– including film scoring – and New York shines as a very cost-effective
place to record the highest quality music for film. (For more details, see our
previous article in the October issue of Allegro.

Yet myths persist that there are so-called
"reasons" not to record in New York under AFM contracts. Here are a
few facts that can disperse the fog of wrong ideas:

MYTH: It is too expensive to use AFM contracts.

FACT: There are actually many contracts
available for producers to choose from. Some offer tiered costs, based in part
on a project’s budget. These include the Low Budget Motion Picture contract
and Indie/Festival Film contract. Specific contracts and rates are easily
available by e-mailing Local 802’s Electronic Media Supervisor Steve Danenberg
at The information is also available on a
brand-new site: (The site is still under
construction, but the right-hand sidebar contains active links to the various
contracts and rates.)

Another fact to remember is that the New York State
tax credits provide a 30 percent cash refund for qualified expenses. See

MYTH: AFM contracts require complex and costly
residual payments to musicians.

FACT: Under AFM contracts, the rate for
residual payments is approximately 1.2 percent. (This rate is computed on
distributors’ gross income received in secondary markets like DVD sales,
etc.). That is as little as one-third of the residual rate paid other union
workers. When working in film and TV, producers hire IATSE camera operators, SAG
actors, WGA writers and other union workers. Some of those unions have residual
rates as high as 3.6 percent. We are inexpensive by comparison. For more
information on residuals for musicians, see

When confronted with these facts about how low our
residual rate really is, many producers have proceeded to work under AFM

MYTH: Recording work is dead in New York.

FACT: Theatrical film recording has increased
over 100 percent in the last two years. It is reasonable to project that the
increase of the state post-production tax credits will continue to support an
increase in film scoring and recording in New York.

MYTH: There is nothing we can do to revive our

FACT: The AFM, in conjunction with the RMA, has
initiated a number of actions that constructively challenge and engage producers
who resist using AFM contracts, as well as producers who are signatories and
have not been complying with the terms of the contracts.

Soliciting and integrating input from rank-and-file
musicians has been a priority in recent union negotiations. These include the
SRLA and the TV/Live Videotape contract talks, and will continue with the
upcoming Theatrical Film contract negotiations.

We’ll leave you with one final FACT: It is
cost-effective, convenient and exciting to record music in New York!

– Shem Guibbory for the RMA-NY Board