Composer Austin Wintory, who has received Grammy nominations for his work on flOw and journey, has gone public on an unacceptable issue that is stopping him from making more video game soundtracks.
Basically, he is facing a $ 50,000 fine from his own union, the American Federation of Musicians, for making the soundtrack for The Banner Saga.
How did it end up this way? Well, a few years ago, the AFM set up a Videogame agreement, regulating the terms of members making soundtracks for videogames, which was approved and went into effect in 2012. However, this contract was put into effect without giving the union’s 90,000 something members a chance to vote on it.
The AFM claimed they put the new agreement into effect to clean up the ‘videogame mess.’ However, the truth is no video game developer or publisher has agreed to or signed up for the agreement. This has effectively blocked those 90,000 members from taking any video game related work, limiting their opportunities. Obviously, it’s not a simple case of avoiding that work on purpose, as these composers have to make a living.
Things came to a head personally for Wintory when he attempted to do the soundtrack for The Banner Saga, with the Dallas Wind Symphony. He was previously able to get around union rules on the iOS game Horn, working on it with other AFM musicians. This time, the AFM intervened and now he is facing that fine.
Wintory acknowledges that he could be penalized further but he did not want to keep quiet anymore. If you are a fan of Wintory’s work, and beyond that, if you think unions like the AFM should not get in the way of composers doing the work they want, you can help his cause by share this link and video to raise awareness. Feel free to click through the YouTube link to comment and share messages of support as well.