The American Federation of Musicians Threatens To Expel Journey Composer

Video game composer Austin Wintory has been threatened with expulsion from the American Federation of Musicians due to his failure to pay a$2,500 fine.

Wintory recorded the score for The Banner Saga in Texas, a “right to work” state, meaning even union musicians can’t be stopped from working under non-union auspices. However, the American Federation of Musicians seem to have other ideas and his actions have resulted in the $2,500 fine which must be paid by 19th January or he will be expelled.


Austin is refusing to pay the fine on principle, “Doing so would be to agree that their failed policies, selective tactics and threats work,” he said. Instead, he has pledged to donate $2,500 to  Education Through Music, a Los Angeles charity “where the money can be used toward building on dreams instead of destroying them.”

Wintory has been critical of the American Federation of Musicians, saying the union’s rules contain clauses that many video game publishers refuse to accept and that AFM needs to review it’s codes and practices. He also says his lawyers are “dealing with the realities of the board’s ability to expel me.”

Apart from The Banner Saga, Wintory also composed the haunting music for PlayStation 3 game Journey and became the first ever composer to be nominated for a Grammy for a video game soundtrack.

Source: Variety



  1. Is the fine due to his being critical of them?

    • From what I understand the fine is due to the work for the Banner Saga not being ‘approved’ or whatever. Texas says that’s fine and the AFM can’t force him to not take non-AFM work, but AFM says foo that and says they can. If I’m understanding this all correctly.

    • I should think they’re playing it by the book but his problem with them is genuinely well founded. I remember reading into this quite comprehensively last year although much of it escapes me right now. However, the overriding feeling was one of “ah, he has a very good point on many counts”.

      • I think (although don’t quote me) it’s something like this: If you’re in the Union and a composer, you have to use Union members when recording music. Texas has its on law which says anyone can be used. Austin recorded it in Texas with non union members, but is still part of the AFM, hence the clash.

        As union members get a guaranteed fee and whatever else, using them is more expensive, so recording in Texas – or London, or eastern Europe – is cheaper. I suspect this is one of the problems Austin has – game producers want to sign him, but not the expense of recording in LA.

        By the way, there is a great interview with Austin by Alex, here –

  2. I sincerely hope this banning saga doesn’t inhibit his journey through the gaming soundscape.

  3. I love his response. Screw the american federation of musicians. Who Ive never heard of. ’til now.

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