Ray Hair Elected President of AFM at Vegas Convention

Film Music Magazine • June 23, 2010

Ray Hair, president of AFM Local 72-147 in Dallas, Texas has won the election for President of the American Federation of Musicians over incumbent Tom Lee. Lee conceded the election this evening in Las Vegas at the AFM Convention. Hair was supported by groups including recording musicians who had opposed many of Lee’s proposals to make AFM recording more competitive including buyout videogame recording contracts.

For the film and television music community, Hair’s election may have a profound effect on the “recording wars” that have resulted in multiple lawsuits filed against the AFM by recording musicians over the last few years. The all-but-open warfare between members of the Recording Musicians Association (RMA) and Tom Lee over issues including the buyout videogame contract and a move to make AFM recording agreements more competitive has taken a serious toll within the AFM, both financially and logistically, and has strained the relationship between AFM Local 47 in Los Angeles and the AFM in recent years.

One of the challenges Hair faces is balancing the interests of competing groups within the AFM. A union made up primarily of part-time musicians, the AFM also covers film and television recording and symphonic work. RMA recording musicians have made no secret of their concerns that the AFM is not looking out after their best interests, with Lee attempting to balance the needs of established full-time recording musicians against those recording musicians who have lost work due to recording work being outsourced to buyout locations including Seattle, London, and eastern Europe. The advent of real-time recording links to studios around the world via the Internet has created an even more competitive environment. While the AFM offers excellent benefits including residual payments to musicians but no buyout recording contracts to production companies, other recording venues around the world offer buyout contracts on a routine basis that do not provide residual payments to their musicians. Among Hair’s challenges will be dealing with studios who have openly defied the AFM, to the point of including language in their composer contracts prohibiting AFM recording on film and television scores.

The results of the International Executive Board election are due to be announced later tonight or tomorrow morning, and the makeup of this Board will also make a difference in Hair’s ability to push his “unity” agenda. Finding a balance between the interests of part-time musicians, symphonic musicians and recording musicians has never been an easy task for an AFM President, but finding this balance may indeed be the key to preserving and growing the AFM in today’s highly competitive climate for recorded and live music.


By TOXIC AVENGER on June 24th, 2010 at 11:57 am

Change is good.

You’re not gonna get benefits unless people want to hire you. It’s a buyers market–failure to recognize financial reality can be fatal.

By A musician leaving LA on June 28th, 2010 at 12:48 pm

The RMA / Local 47 seems bound and determined to drive even more work out of LA / Hollywood. In my opinion, they are completely overvaluing their product. Actually, they are OBVIOUSLY overvaluing their product when companies are going out of their way to avoid an AFM contract. When are they going to realize that they just DO NOT HAVE THE LEVERAGE to demand contracts bloated with residuals, H&W and Pension (a fund which is dying anyway)? Next month I’m moving to Seattle. Later LA- I’m getting out while the getting’s good.

By Batman on June 29th, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Typical that old school idiots in the local 47 would continue to think only of their last few years left in the business and not the legacy and climate they leave behind them. Supporting this monkey Ray Hair is going to put yet another nail in the coffin for recording in Los Angeles. I believe very passionately in keeping as much work as possible in LA as a principal, however, it gets harder and harder for me to feel this way when many of the working musicians in LA don’t have the foggiest clue about competition in business and, let’s be honest, aren’t playing nearly at the level that studio musicians, as a whole, used to. The quality of performance in LA has taken a steep dive in the studios and unfortunately, most of the contractors in a position to hire many musicians every week on big time TV/film gigs seldom know the actual talent of the people they are hiring. Rotter/DeCrescent are the worst offenders in this area.

Here’s some advice to the musicians that are whining about losing special payments:

Go back to the practice room and get better. Then go take a business class and realize that global competition means you have to be more competitive both with price and quality of performance. Then stop your whining because I am tired of hearing the bitching and complaining about losing work when you can’t even compete on the same level performance wise, let alone money wise.

Advice for the many contractors that are helping to destroy the recording industry in Los Angeles:

Stop hiring shitty players and start to realize once again that YOU work for the composer, not the other way around. The Rotter camp needs to wake the f#ck up and stop calling in favors more than quality players.

By purple on July 7th, 2010 at 8:05 pm

Hey batman,

Classical music as a whole has seen a steep decline in performance. Too many robots without a clue inside their head about why and what they are doing.

Overall, it’s a symptom of a craft and field in steep decline, at least in the U.S.

By strad116055 on July 27th, 2010 at 9:26 am

when times are tough, only the very best survive. the best musicians play better than musicians have ever played. the merely good musicians will not be able to make a living because the business is indeed shrinking. mediocre music can now easily be made by mediocre synth programmers for much less than merely adequate live musicians.

having said that, however, the finest musicians in the US are competing with the finest musicians around the world, whose unions lower wages and fewer benefits. so unfortunately, work will continue to go where the cost is less. perhaps what is needed is an international musicians union.

at the end of the day, though, live music is becoming increasingly specialized and competitive. the number of people who make a living from it will continue to shrink. simply lowering the prince will not keep work in the country for merely competent musicians in LA or anywhere else if the product is not at the level of the finest players elsewhere.

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