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Varese Sarabande Sold To Cutting Edge Group

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It's an interesting development. This is what Robert Townson said about it on Facebook

Exciting times and a bright future ahead for film music. Varèse Sarabande Records will remain the champion of, and home for, great film music from around the world. We will continue to celebrate film music history and all of the composers who have made us what we are. Joining with our friends at Cutting Edge, we will forge new frontiers to release and promote the best film music of today, with even greater support and reach. This will ultimately include amplified activity on all fronts, including original film soundtracks, recordings, live events and more! Varèse Sarabande's 35th anniversary year will be historic in many ways and mark an exciting new beginning for us.


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There seems to be some genuine concern at FSM over this, regardless of what happens, there's still Intrada, LaLaLand, Quartet, Kritzerland and several others. I think we'll be fine.

I haven't read the FSM thead and I don't know if there's a reason to be concerned. But if for some reason Varese stops re-releasing/expanding/remastering their catalogue but still hold on to their rights, then the other labels are cold comfort.

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I don't know, but apparently it will:

As a film director who works a lot in indie film, I can tell you that the Cutting Edge music group has been disastrous for low budget film. How? Because Cutting Edge has been 'cutting' low budget directors off at the knees and the results are less quality scores in independent films. Before many of these independent films even go into production, the producers and financiers of these films (oftentimes who know and care very little for film music) will sell the publishing rights for the film score to Cutting Edge for something like $30,000. This may seem like a lot at the time to struggling producers when dealing with the high costs of production, but what they don't realize is that when it comes time to hire a composer to do the film's score - and this happened to me recently - it is near impossible to hire a well known composer for very little money WHEN THE PUBLISHING OF SAID SCORE HAS ALREADY BEEN SOLD to Cutting Edge for far less than its worth.

The bigger composers' agencies HATE Cutting Edge because they're basically vampires feeding on the publishing which was currency their composers used to earn in exchange for working on low budget films that couldn't afford to pay them their standard fees. In my case I have relationships with some amazing composers and have always been able to work out deals with them on my previous films. Those deals usually included offering them the publishing. On this recent occasion, on what is essentially a five million dollar film, the inexperienced producer sold the publishing before I was even hired to direct the film. When it came time to hire the composer of my choice, I simply could not make a deal with him, despite his strong desire to work on the film. The numbers just didn't work and he would have lost money to do the score. I approached another composer who had I known for quite a few years and we were mutual admirers of one another's work. He loved the film, but his agents refused to let him score the film since Cutting Edge controlled the publishing. This composer really, really wanted to do the score. He featured prominently in my temp track and would have knocked it out of the park. The money he was being offered by the production company was too low for him to compose the score and produce the entire recording with nothing to show for it. Especially when Cutting Edge will be able to exploit that score (in trailers, commercials, other films, etc.) and the composer, who has worked for peanuts, will have no say in its reuse and not benefit financially from it either. Now we're not talking about a tiny movie with nobodies in the cast. This is a film headlined by some pretty big stars and it's not my first rodeo either. After I couldn't deliver my second choice of composer, the producer panicked and hired a much lesser known composer that I did not approve of. I'm not saying this composer is not talented, but he or she was not my creative choice. But they were willing to work for next to nothing to get the gig. As a huge collector of film scores and someone who takes enormous pleasure in working on the film's score with the composer, I feel gutted that I find myself in this situation, especially when I had two of the finest composers in the industry willing to step up and do the score for hugely reduced fees and still that wasn't affordable to the production company - and more importantly, the deal couldn't be made without offering the composer the publishing. This is a bad situation in the world of independent filmmaking and it's only going to get worse. I don't see anything positive happening with the Varese deal. These guys are all about the bottom line and the films themselves are going to be the losers. No longer will you get a Thomas Newman or a James Horner or a Christopher Young or a Mark Isham score for a two to ten million dollar film. These guys will only be working on huge studio budgets. Maybe some newer composers will catch a break, but the music won't always be the better for it. Well, that's my perspective on it - one from the inside.


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