Winter 2008


By the time you receive this publication, a hotly contested presidential race will have presented us with new leadership. As we look ahead to the New Year, my hopes are that this new regime will be favorable to copyright and the dilemma and challenges of the creative artist.

I am happy to report that the Society of Composers and Lyricists membership continues to grow and we have you, our members, to thank for this. Your recommendations to your fellow composers and lyricists have brought our numbers to well over a thousand. I remember when I joined the SCL back in the mid- eighties, you basically knew everyone in the room, and we’d be lucky if there were more than a handful of new members every year. New board member, Adryan Russ, has done an exceptional job of finding new ways to grow our membership. New high profile members such as Mac Davis, Paul Williams and Michael Lloyd have joined many young composers whose careers are just beginning. Another reason for this is that the number of composers working in our ranks has grown exponentially over the last twenty years. My career began in earnest thirty years ago. I am sure that there were only sixty or so of us doing all of the scores. Now there are probably thousands of composers and I’d like to think that the work is being done at a very high level for the most part. The way our jobs are accomplished is dramatically different than when I first got started, but I still feel that the inner spark that leads one to be able to create and deliver an effective score or song is still the critical ingredient in a composer’s make-up, irrespective of the advanced tools we have the luxury to employ in the current day.

This last year has been filled with numerous highlights. I believe that our screening series was the best ever, as our membership had the opportunity to see every music and song nominated score. The opportunity to hear insights from composers such as Michael Giacchino, Patrick Doyle, Mark Isham, Alexandre Desplat, Carlo Siliotto, Dario Marianelli, Thomas Newman, Alberto Iglesias, Marco Beltrami and our second Vice-President, Mark Adler, as well as many more was invaluable. We also had the chance to hear Stephen Schwartz and Alan Menken as well as Academy awards winners Glen Hasard and Marketa Irglova talk and even perform their songs for us. I personally want to thank Executive Director, Laura Dunn, as well as the numerous volunteers who went to great efforts to make these events what they were and continue to be.

Honoring those who have added greatly to our profession continues at our Holiday Dinner. Last December, Burt Bacharach and Dave Grusin were the latest members of our SCL Ambassador Program. I am pleased to say that Hal David and Lalo Schifrin will be following in their footsteps for 2008. Ron Grant, as head of our Media committee, has acquired some historic footage of these events over the past five years.

Sadly, this year marked the passing of a number of SCL members and .our thoughts go out to their friends and families. Recently Neal Hefti, my close friend and legendary arranger and composer, left us, and our first SCL Ambassador, Earle Hagen passed away last summer. Earle leaves a deep void in the annals of television music, where he was the undisputed king. It is some consolation that our organization as well as the music branch of the Television Academy, was able to celebrate him during his time. Thanks to Ron Grant, we are fortunate to have wonderful footage from that evening when Earle received his award.

Several of our members were recognized not only with Oscar and Emmy nominations, but awards as well. A number of others were recognized by their respective performing rights organizations at gala functions in their honor. Charles Bernstein, Lori Barth and Laura Dunn organized a world class Oscar reception at the home of Bonnie and John Cacavas last February, and the plans are to do the same for our Gold members again in the new year. The multi-talented John has become the newest member of our distinguished Advisory Board. His list of credits are monumental, with series such as Kojak and the Airport movies added to the countless band scores he has composed and arranged. Perhaps most important for this community was his involvement as president of our predecessor organization, the CLGA, and his service on the ASCAP board for many years.

The prominence of our members in the area of Game Music hit new heights when our board member Garry Schyman was honored with the Outstanding Composition Award during the Interactive Achievement Awards last February. Board Members Russell Brower and Billy Martin continue to bring their experience and expertise to the table as well. We are planning a major seminar in January to deal with advancements in that area. Our members such as Sharon Farber and Peter Melnick also continue to make significant contributions in the areas of concert and theatre music respectively, and we’re happy to be able to welcome new members into our ranks with these specific talents as our organization continues to grow.

Our Score magazine continues to be the ultimate source of information in our profession. Lori Barth continues her outstanding work as Senior Editor. She has delivered over twenty years of service to this organization in that capacity and we applaud her dedication to the SCL in the area of journalism. The SCL mentor program invariably fosters some new and unique talents. Chris Farrell, after a number of years of exceptional work, has passed the torch to Craig Stuart Garfinkfle, who will be steering some fabulous new talent through this term’s program, which include SCL members and students from the Berklee School of music in Boston.

This last year has not been without its concerns in the area of copyright and performing rights. As the Internet becomes the springboard for more production and as our works began to move from traditional broadcast to the Web, a joint concern of the performing rights organizations and the SCL is that we be adequately compensated for our work.

The SCL has secured meetings with Congressmen Howard Berman and Adam Schiff, as well Mary Beth Peters, the Registrar of Copyrights, in order to educate them as to our specific needs as composers working in the audio-visual medium. I feel that we have made significant strides in raising the awareness of the need to protect our interests as the means of delivery changes in our field Unfortunately, Congressman Berman will be stepping down as head of the sub-Committee on the Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet and we are hoping that someone as sympathetic to copyright such as Congressman Jerrold Nadler from New York may be his successor.

At the time of this writing, I have planned to meet with the union of European composers know as FFACE in an effort, among other things, to engage in dialogue that could shed some light as to how other countries are dealing with some of our shared challenges. In celebration of the Centenary of Film Music, as it is being designated, our European counterparts have organized two days of discourse between composers around the world. Our colleague, Bernard Grimaldi, who now serves as the president of the group, felt that it was important that the SCL play an active role in these discussions. SCL Vice-President Arthur Hamilton was key in securing our organization’s place in this conference. The Europeans have always put the utmost importance on the role that music plays in cinema. Former SCL president Bruce Broughton served as the honorary president of the Ubeda Film Music Conference last summer and the event has featured our member’s works every year since its inception.

Our efforts in New York continue to grow and I’ve met with members of that community over the past year as well as speaking to a group of SCL members and students at NYU last May. It is my hope that a viable presence can help unite the film music community there, much as it did in the early days of the CLGA. Members, Joel Beckerman and Michael Patterson continue to aid in this agenda.

In closing, as we move forward into the future it has never been more important to be united as a community. We have seen how division within the ranks of our brother and sister organizations can lead to a malaise that is destructive on many levels. The Society of Composers and Lyricists has been—and will continue to be—the leading voice for composers and songwriters in the visual media. I am proud to be a part of this organization that is steeped in tradition, continues to award excellence in the field, and is a fore-runner in addressing issues that impact the well-being of our profession.

Published in THE SCORE quarterly newsletter [Vol. XXIII, Number Four, Winter 2008]


Fall 2008


New York City… I remember visiting the city with my roommate, Ladd Spiegel when we were both freshmen at Amherst College. I recall staying at the Waldorf Astoria, going to the theatre, seeing Gladys Knight and the Pips and realizing as Jerry Herman said, there was a whole world outside of Yonkers, or in my case Oklahoma City. I remember getting to go there again after graduation, staying at the Plaza going to see Words and Music by Sammy Cahn, going to see Kander and Ebb’s 70 Girls 70 hearing Errol Garner, Dizzy Gillespie, and Buddy Rich. The pulse of the city was infectious and I had my whole life in front of me and I knew that New York would play an important role in it.

Well, I still love it and when I became involved with the Society of Composers and Lyricists, I was surprised to learn that we didn’t have a chapter there, even though some of the most gifted composers and lyricists working in our industry call the city their home. As I researched further, I realized that at one time, there was a presence there that was equal to ours here in Los Angeles. But that was years ago in the early fifties and was headed by Arthur Schwartz, the composer of such classics as Dancing in the Dark andThat’s Entertainment. As a result, I’ve made it a priority to embrace that community and try to move things forward.

Over the past few years, the SCL has co-hosted a number of events, and I’ve had the opportunity to meet a number of talented composers and songwriters who continue to make huge contributions to our profession. Recently I had the opportunity to present an evening of my music at NYU as part of Ron Sadoff’s Film Scoring Program, under the aegis of ASCAP and the SCL, which was moderated by Joel Beckerman. Joel has been instrumental in trying to bring the SCL to New York. His illustrious career and tireless energy have made him a key player there in our efforts to enlist the New York community. There are certain segments of our industry that are thriving on the East Coast. I asked Joel to give me his take on the state of the business there. I include some of his thoughts:

Sports still thrives. The one challenge in that area is that ESPN, arguably the leader in sports cable does NOT have a blanket license with the Performing rights organizations and often tries to get composers to give up their performance royalties.

Children’s programming certainly is big, mainly on Nickelodeon and Disney Channel.  News is perennial but certainly growing
with more channels like Fox Business launching.  Talk and reality on cable are certainly big.  The success of John Stewart
has led the way for others.   We all know that original talk in syndication has taken a beating lately, and except for Ellen and Oprah, is on the ropes at the moment.

Certainly there are many composers who are busy in advertising in New York, although not as many as in the past.

I would say that cable television in general is certainly a growth area for composers, especially as more and more cable networks (like Sci-Fi, TNT, USA, WE Channel, Bravo, etc, etc) have moved to do more original series.

The challenge is how to do the same high level of creative work with diminishing budgets.  A lot of composers are doing shows, which are hybrids of original music and library.

The SCL, along with ASCAP, presented Young Frankenstein with John Morris, a few years back. John has made his home in New York for years, as have other great composers such as John Barry and our SCL Ambassador, David Shire, our Advisory Board Member, Alan Menken and his 2007 Oscar nominated collaborator, Stephen Schwartz. I was honored to be a part of a celebration of our Advisory Board member, Charlie Fox at the BMI offices, which was attended by a number of influential New York writers along with, Del Bryant, Doreen Ringer Ross, Linda Livingston, Alison Smith and Charlie Feldman from BMI. Charlie Fox treated us to some of his greatest hits and his engaging personality made this truly an event to remember.

ASCAP’s Michael Kerker has been instrumental in helping us enlist the Broadway and Cabaret community. We were fortunate to have Marcy Heisler on a panel that included other esteemed writers such as Mark Snow, Maria Schneider and Rob Mounsey, with Cheryl Foliart representing the studio perspective entitled, Launching and Growing Your Composing/Songwriting Career. Marcy shared her travels through the world of Cabaret that have led to a Broadway play co-written with her partner, Zina Goldrich, along with Doug Hughes and Rob Ashford entitled, Ever After. I attended the opening of our talented board member Peter Melnick’s ADRIFT IN MACAO (book & lyrics by Christopher Durang), which garnered rave reviews and a Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Music during its 2007 Off-Broadway run. Michael Patterson, artist in residence at NYU, and a composer. arranger and producer who, like Maria Schneider has achieved celebrity in the field of jazz in New York, has been another key figure in moving things forward in the city. I asked him to share a few thoughts, which I include here:

A composer’s point of view does change once he lives in New York for a while. New York is a live performance city! The concept of giving concerts is prominent in the psyche of the musicians here and of course this plays very strongly in the mind of the composer. Going to hear several concerts a week is not unusual. The quest for excellence in performance is part of the culture of both performer and composer. This has an interesting effect upon the artist. Not only is he required to know his craft, but is challenged to find his voice. Knowing your craft is just the beginning. I have found that the real learning goes on through my work with these amazing musicians. The default in this city seems to be to always get better at what we do. SCL is a good way to stay current and to network, and of course that is our intent here, as you know. I think the work is the prime thing here, whether it is theater, film, jazz or concert music, and bringing excellence to whichever field you are in seems to be the focus and concern here in NY- and the city is a great place to be for all artists. the city is international and you feel it when you walk out of your apartment!

Composer, Carter Burwell participated in a special event hosted by ASCAP, the Film Musicians Secondary Market, AFM Local 802 and the SCL at Columbia University entitled, Aesthetics and Collaboration. It provided a thought provoking forum that included a dialogue between Carter, director Steve Shainberg and Moderator, Alex Steyermark surrounding the movie, Fur, scored by Carter.

As the challenges to our way of doing business become more acute and our adversaries become more united in their quest to minimize the compensation for our work, it is critical that we join together in a global sense and do what we can to increase our odds of being heard. I thank those of you living outside the boundaries of California for your support of our organization and for those members on the East Coast, I would encourage you to attend our events and join with your colleagues as we continue to plan more activities in your area. New York is a special place and I applaud our colleagues that continue to make it the creative center it has historically been.

Published in THE SCORE quarterly newsletter [Vol. XXIII, Number Three, Fall 2008]


Summer 2008


I asked my predecessor, Ray Colcord to write an article for the Score some time back entitled, Why I Belong to the SCL. Ray in his articulate and insightful way enumerated his reasons and I thought that I might try my hand at elaborating some of my thoughts along the same line as I see it today.

Since I joined the SCL, about the time that this organization was transitioning from the CLGA, our numbers have grown considerably. We now count over 1,100 members and as I recall, you could fit our membership into a small cocktail room when I joined back in the mid eighties at the urging of my agents at the time, Al Bart and Stan Milander. Although this undoubtedly illustrates that the number of composers and songwriters working within our field are growing, I think more importantly it demonstrates that the spirit is alive to be part of an organization that is sympathetic to the needs of our unique profession.

Our membership has continued to grow and I am proud to be part of a group that not only welcomes inspired new talent like those members of our mentor program, but also includes new member and Oscar nominee, Javier Navarrete, one of the finest composers working today. Javier has recently moved to Los Angeles and has already used the resources of the SCL to help in his latest project.

High on my list as a reason to join our group is the camaraderie that I have tried to foster during my tenure with the SCL. This sense of community is nothing new. The gifted lyricist, Dennis Spiegel embraced me into the SCL when I first joined and continues to be our outspoken cheerleader. Jim Di Pasquale recently played me a wonderful song featuring Arthur Hamilton, and other members of the CLGA, extolling the virtues of our predecessor organization. Mark Snow expressed it well when he told a group of prospective members in New York, that the isolation that we naturally encounter in our profession is refreshingly counter-balanced with the activities and associations made through the SCL. Ours can certainly be a solitary profession, but being able to meet and inter-act with others in our line of work is a truly rewarding experience that you won’t find anywhere else. Not only have I made new friends, but through one SCL gathering, I met Alan Silva, who along with Steve Morrell, worked with me for eleven years on the series, 7th Heaven. This is not an uncommon story. I know many successful relationships have been nurtured through our organization.

Those members who have joined us at the Gold level or higher have had the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of their peers with our Oscar and Emmy receptions. The majority of the nominees attend these gala events and it is the perfect opportunity to mix with friends and colleagues in a festive setting. It has always been my goal to instill an understanding that, although we often compete for the same work, we are part of a larger community that shares a passion and appreciation for our colleagues’ contributions. Our membership meetings are another excellent chance to be among our creative peers and we have been fortunate to gather at historic locations to share our experiences and accomplishments. I am particularly proud of the SCL Ambassador program as we continue to honor legendary figures in our profession every year at our holiday dinner. Recognizing individuals who, through their seminal contributions to our profession, have made it stronger and better has been a personal goal of mine as well.

I’m aware that there are times that one doesn’t have the luxury to come to SCL functions; in fact, we pride ourselves on representing the working artist. I can confidently say that the ultimate source of information about our profession continues to be our Score magazine. Lori Barth has been doing an outstanding job for over twenty years as Senior Editor and besides winning a Deems Taylor Award, the magazine has received accolades from our own members. Michael Giacchino, who we are so proud of this year, with his Grammy award and Oscar nomination, told me that even with his busy schedule, he reads every issue from cover-to-cover.

With the constant challenges that are occurring in our field, it is important to keep aware of those changes. One of the valuable resources we can provide are seminars that chart the movement in our profession. As I mentioned in the last issue of the Score, the talented panelists that explored potential challenges to our royalty stream in last summer’s seminar Where’s My Royalty? provided valuable insight into what we may expect over the next few years. This is only one example of dialogues that have featured SCL members and each one has provided important insight into many aspects of our profession.

The screening series has turned out to be one of the most valuable assets of a SCL membership. This last year alone we were able to not only view all of the Oscar nominated songs and scores, we also had the opportunity to gain the insight behind those and many other remarkable works by having today’s most talented songwriters and composers walk us through the creative process.

In closing, your membership has given us a collective power in numbers. Several SCL composers and songwriters have had the opportunity to meet with Congressional members and the Copyright office to explore how we will be compensated in the digital age. I can personally tell you that our position is being listened to and will seriously be taken into consideration as legislation is explored that could have a decided impact on our careers. That is largely due to the fact that we can point to a large constituency that will be watching these issues closely. Your membership can undoubtedly help effect changes in our profession.

Each of you, I hope, has found an intrinsic value in your SCL membership. As always, I encourage you to each be an Ambassador for our organization and enlist your friends and colleagues as we continue to grow our numbers. It will ultimately have a direct impact on how we are perceived as creators and as artists. In short our perception in the market place as a whole will be shaped by your participation.

Published in THE SCORE quarterly newsletter [Vol. XXIII, Number Two, Summer 2008]


Spring 2008


At the date of this writing, issues are still being decided within our community that I am confident will be resolved by the time you receive this publication. It has been a difficult time for many of you and I am starting to receive calls from colleagues whose final episodes are on the horizon in episodic television and I know there are many others who have been impacted by the unsettling state of affairs for some time. I have heard nervousness from neighbors about their friends in industry related-areas who complain that the strike has compromised their businesses and question the needs of a few that may affect the security of many. This is an argument that we all have heard during the past few months. However sympathetic we may be to their plight, the demand that creators be compensated in an equitable fashion is a noble quest and a bond that must be forged by all of us in the creative community.

I commend our colleagues in the DGA for putting in place a deal that hopefully can lead to our industry getting back to work. At the same time, the writers have been waging a valiant fight under the capable leadership of our friend, Patic Verrone, president of the Writer’s Guild of America, West. We trust that any agreement brokered with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers will reflect the hardships that both sides, along with our entire industry have suffered over the past several months. It is also my hope, that if it hasn’t happened by this date, that their talks have a timely resolution that will yield significant gains in the areas that have been on the table since the onset of these negotiations. There is one thing for certain: whatever parameters are put into place in our sister guilds, particularly as they affect the internet, will have a decided impact on how our deals are structured as we move into a digital future of unpredictable and unseen dimension.

The understanding of the value of a copyright and the importance of preserving it is not an insignificant by-product of this current dilemma. The ease by which our work can not only be copied and shared, but also pirated is something that no one would have predicted, even a few years ago. The irony is that the larger issue should not be one that pits the studios against the creative guilds. The feuding parties have a much greater common goal to preserve their shared creation against global theft and therefore should be unified, creating their own alliance in mutual solidarity.

Within our own quarters, and not unrelated to the uncertain times of our industry in general, the act of determining how we are paid and who will be responsible for seeing that we are compensated fairly, is, to a great degree, unresolved at this moment. Attorney, and SCL honorary lifetime member, Jay Cooper and ASCAP board member Dean Kay* made it very clear at an SCL seminar last summer that it is important that we stay abreast of legislation that is in front of Congress. Our opponents are vigilant in stating their position. The more contact we can have with the Congress, particularly those on the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property, and make them aware of our concern with the advances in technology and how they are impacting our livelihood, the better chance we have in seeing legislation sympathetic to our interests being enacted.

My personal hope is that our interests will fall under the domain of the performing rights societies. After nearly thirty years of working in the industry, I can say that the vision and guidance that these organizations have exemplified is unparalleled. As a young writer, I had no sense of the magnitude of the Buffalo Broadcasting vs. ASCAP decision in 1980-82, which reaffirmed the constitutionality of the blanket license on local television. At the time, it seemed to me to be another court battle, which applied to some limited area of our profession, removed from my day-to-day well being. Truth be told, the ruling in our favor, was not only significant to my well being, the blanket license preserved therein ended up providing the primary source of income from shows of mine such as Home Improvement and Roseanne, whose life after prime time has not been insignificant. Whatever challenges lay ahead, I am confident that ASCAP, BMI and SESAC will look for ways to protect our interests. They are also the leaders in intellectual property education at an early age. Programs that teach children the value of copyright have already been employed in out-reach education in classrooms throughout the country. ASCAP’s Donnie the Downloader program has been designed to educate American middle school students about music piracy and the real costs of downloading music illegally.

Another way that we can be proactive as the environment changes is to work with our agents and attorneys to determine if any language advantageous to preserving our rights can be inserted into the boiler- plate contracts that all of us have signed throughout our careers. Quite simply put, if our contracts don’t say we’re getting paid for it, we’re not. Perhaps as downloading, streaming, mobisodes, etc. are being dealt with industry wide, we as composers and songwriters can take advantage of this period to incorporate some changes of our own. In the beginning, it may be on a case-by-case basis, but eventually these types of efforts could lead to strides beneficial to our interests on a grander scale. There is no doubt that this will be an uphill battle, as even the most successful among our ranks are making little ground in some of these areas.

Our past-president, Jim di Pasquale, among others in the SCL, was instrumental in mounting a quest for recognition in front of the National Labor Relations Board in 1984. If successful, it would have helped in recapturing some of the ground lost during a strike and lengthy and disruptive lawsuit during the seventies. Although we were denied recognition at that time, another alternative to dealing with some of the challenges we have today may be to re-look at the collective bargaining issue that eluded us back then. The current labor negotiations will ultimately play a factor in the potential success of such a campaign, but members within our organization have regularly monitored the feasibility of unionization and will continue to do so, now and in the future.

Troubling as these times may be, I look optimistically towards a future that will provide even greater outlets for our music and song. I believe that although this is an age of technology that allows easier access to our work, the time is also fertile to present a platform that re-affirms that without our creative output, these devices and their facile use would be meaningless pieces of hardware. This is a message that needs to be presented, articulated and argued and it is our responsibility to play a part in the educational process; making sure that message is delivered loud and clear.

*Dean Kay offers an informative daily service called The Dean’s List. He provides links to articles from all over the world that pertain to copyright, new technology and music. He will be happy to add you to his morning reviews. Just go to and follow the website to the Dean’s List to be added to his e-mail updates. I would also strongly suggest downloading the seminar Where’s My Royalty? Past-President, Ray Colcord assembled experts, Christopher Amenita, Ted Cohen, Jay Cooper, Jeffrey Graubart, and Dean Kay to talk on many of the matters pertinent to our survival. Go to the SCL Store, Downloads-Members Only area on page 4 items 8029A&B.


Published in THE SCORE quarterly newsletter [Vol. XXIII, Number One, Spring 2008]