With three top California assemblyman singing their tune at the American Federation of Musicians’ “Keeping the Score in California” event, it appears as if the tax incentive designed to keep recording work in the state is destined for passage. “I don’t see it as a question of if it’s going to happen, I see it as a question of when it’s going to happen,” said Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon, who in April introduced the measure, AB 1300.
Other Sacramento heavy-hitters who joined AFM Los Angeles president John Acosta and about 150 attendees for a free concert at City Hall on Aug. 19 were James Cooper, who chairs the assembly budget subcommittee overseeing the initiative, and Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, chairman of the assembly committee on revenue and taxation.
While California passed a film production tax credit of $1.55 billion starting in 2014 and running through 2020, scoring was not included in the $330 per year of relief. That may be because at the time, music was considered more a part of post-production, as with many aspects of filmmaking, digital technology has compressed music into part of the production process. And while that production credit has seen some improvement in keeping work in California, runaway scoring has become rampant, with the business dwindling in the past 10 years to half its size, with Paramount and Universal closing their scoring stages and the legendary Todd-AO room at CBS Radford razed to make way for office space.
“Sony, MGM, Fox and Warner Bros. are the only big studio scoring stages left,” composer Dan Redfeld said. “Keeping the scoring work here in Los Angeles supports a whole ecosystem of work here — not only the musicians but the facilities staff, the engineers, orchestrators, copyists.”