Composers Guild of America Launched; Partners with WGA to Educate Writers about Hiring Composers

By • February 24, 2011

The launch of the Composers Guild of America (CGA), a new nonprofit music advocacy group, has been announced by the group’s founder, composer Alan Elliott. The group announced a successful presentation to the Writers Guild of America Show Runners Training program on February 5 to help educate television writers about how the composer hiring process works, how live musicians can be used in television productions, and how to successfully and cost effectively work with composers.

“The WGA show runners have never, ever had music folks explain how to plan, budget and incorporate music early in the creative and budget process,” explained CGA founder Alan Elliott. “What was great was starting to involve the WGA show runners in our process – something that, over the years, has been shrouded in misunderstanding with a lack communication between the music community and show runners.”

The CGA presenters at the WGA event included composers Ludwig Goransson, David Carbonara and Alan Elliott. The composer/presenters explained the music process and how, with planning, the show runners can maximize their budget to include quality music played by live musicians in their shows. The presentation included a cost breakdown for a 39-piece orchestra, including contractor, conductor and music prep with a cost for the musicians of approximately $17,000 (plus composer fees).

Elliott reported the writers’ first response was, “That’s it?” The CGA presenters played music for the writers from shows including “Mad Men,” “Community” and “The Naked Truth” and, according to Elliott, the writers were amazed at how affordable the music was compared to what they already spent on editing and production costs.

Elliott says that with an educational relationship now established with the writers, the CGA is already working on similar relationships with directors and editors as well as starting the starting a comprehensive trainee program for composers in conjunction with production companies and music schools from across the country.

Elliott was quick to point out that the CGA is not a union. Instead, he says the organization is “an advocacy group dedicated to representing, defining and helping implement and further the rights of composers, musicians and other members of the music community for the 21st century.”

In an editorial opinion piece in Film Music Magazine, Elliott describes the goals of the CGA and discusses the history of the AMCL group that is working with the Teamsters to organize composers, and how that group abandoned many of its initial goals as well as dumping a pact negotiated with the WGA in favor of a pared-down “benefits only” approach.

Elliott states, “In March, 2010 – four weeks before the AMCL was to announce the potentially game changing WGA pact… at the WGA theater… with WGA President John Wells giving the invocation – the AMCL killed its own agenda, support and momentum – voluntarily. The AMCL partners demanded my resignation and informed me the AMCL would seek no more deals with other creative unions, stop all education outreach, break up the intern program, and kill our infant WGA pact.”

Elliott continued, “Today, we should be almost a year into the WGA Agreement. However, the reality is that no existing group (SCL, AMCL, ASCAP, BMI, SESAC…) is willing to step up to implement the change that the WGA Agreement would have begun. I wish there was an easier way than starting a union like the AMCL… or starting an advocacy group like the CGA. I can honestly say it isn’t for lack of looking or for a lack of effort. I wish the SCL had the fire in the belly to implement change (the AMCL spent three years asking the SCL for it’s support, but the SCL had no interest), but they don’t. So with no other group around… and the knowing realization that our community can no longer afford to wait… we created an advocacy group (not a union) called the Composers Guild of America (CGA).”

To read the editorial “Why The Music Community Needs the CGA” visit:
http://www.filmmusicmag.com/?p=7265

For more information on the Composers Guild of America, visit:
http://www.composersguild.org

Leave a Comment