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Journey composer could be expelled from union

Austin Wintory refusing to pay AFM fine for his non-union work as a composer on The Banner Saga

Austin Wintory, the award-winning composer behind Journey, Monaco and The Banner Saga, is fighting back against his union, the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), and he may get the boot as a result. Variety is reporting that Wintory has refused to pay a $2,500 fine imposed by AFM for doing non-union work on The Banner Saga. If Wintory does not pay the fine by January 19, it will result in his expulsion from the union.

Wintory, however, has said that instead of paying the fine he will give $2,500 to Education Through Music - Los Angeles (ETM-LA), "where the money can be used toward building on dreams instead of destroying them." Wintory added that paying the fine would be "to agree that their failed policies, selective tactics and threats work," and he noted that his lawyers are "dealing with the realities of the board's ability to expel me."

Game companies and the AFM have been at odds for some time. Last year, Wintory was also threatened with a fine of $50,000. AFM's existing game recording contracts contain provisions that publishers essentially refuse to accept; and while a new agreement was forged in June 2014, it has been used only once.

Wintory deliberately worked on The Banner Saga in Texas, a "right-to-work" state, to avoid union rules. It's becoming increasingly common for game composers to work in Nashville (since Tennessee is another right-to-work state) and London. Wintory said he did attempt to record music for The Banner Saga with Los Angeles musicians but, ultimately it was twice as expensive and brought with it extra fees related to future uses of the music.

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James Brightman avatar
James Brightman: James Brightman has been covering the games industry since 2003 and has been an avid gamer since the days of Atari and Intellivision. He was previously EIC and co-founder of IndustryGamers and spent several years leading GameDaily Biz at AOL prior to that.
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