[JPL] The Jazz and Heritage Foundation pushes Louisiana musicians for Hollywood movies

Jazz Promo Services jazzpromo at earthlink.net
Mon Apr 21 17:46:01 EDT 2008

Sound check
by Richard A. Webster
Posted: Monday, April 21, 2008
New Orleans musicians figured their big payday had finally arrived.
In 2005 the Louisiana Legislature passed the Sound Recording Tax Credit
Program that gave movie studios a 25 percent tax break for the use of local
music in their films.
The incentive was figured to bring thousands in extra income to the jazz
singers and guitarists whose livelihoods took a major hit after Hurricane
More than $500 million in film production takes place in Louisiana each
year, and many believed the new tax program would put $10 million into the
local music industry annually, according to the New Orleans Jazz and
Heritage Foundation.
Movie studios that license existing music or record new songs for their
films can pay several thousand to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on
the budget.
But after three years on the books, the SRTCP has had little to no impact,
said Scott Aiges, director of marketing and communications for the
³When the movie industry came, a bunch of people stood up and said, ŒThis is
a real opportunity. They¹re making all of these movies down here, and if
they use our music that will mean significant paydays for our local
artists,¹² Aiges said. ³These are people that have fingers on very large
budgets that could and should be spent down here on music. But we¹ve noticed
over the years that it¹s just not happening.²
Music education
Aiges said he thinks a lack of information and experience working with the
Louisiana music industry is behind studio reluctance to take advantage of
the tax breaks. So the Jazz and Heritage Festival Foundation, as part of its
new Sync Up initiative, will bring 10 music supervisors who have worked on
films shot in Louisiana to New Orleans during the Jazz and Heritage
They will be educated about the tax incentive program, introduced to all the
major players in the local music industry, exposed to the diversity of
Louisiana music and given tours of New Orleans recording facilities.
³We¹re bringing them to town in the same way the oil industry would bring
key executives from Exxon-Mobil and Shell to look at platforms in the Gulf,²
Aiges said. ³And at the end of this trip I fully expect that all of them
will say, ŒWe love this, this is fantastic, and we can¹t wait to start using
your music in all of our movies.¹²
The Jazz and Heritage Foundation will also launch a Web site,
www.talent.jazzandheritage.org, during Jazz Fest. It will provide a database
of local music that studios can use to find and purchase the rights to songs
for their movies.
³People have been trying to figure out the conundrum of the music business
down here forever and how to develop a bona fide industry,² Aiges said. ³We
believe the key piece to this is licensing music to studios. But New Orleans
musicians don¹t have music publishers out there pitching their songs to
Hollywood day in and day out like the big record companies do. Through this
program that¹s a role we hope to fill.²
Supervisors uninformed
There are several reasons music supervisors have not used local music in
films shot in Louisiana, Aiges said.
First, they are under the mistaken impression that Louisiana music is
limited to jazz, brass bands and Zydeco, he said. So unless the film¹s
storyline takes place in Louisiana, they don¹t think there is any reason to
use Louisiana music.
³If the movie is set in Cuba but filmed in Shreveport, the music supervisor
is probably not thinking, ŒLet¹s get a Latin band from Louisiana,¹² Aiges
said. ³They don¹t know that there may be a really good Latin band right here
that may have a song that¹s perfect for the movie that could get them 25
percent back. But we have an incredibly diverse range of artists from every
The main problem, however, is that music supervisors have no idea the tax
incentive program exists, Aiges said, and music supervisors who don¹t know
they can save money using Louisiana musicians will typically look elsewhere
for artists.
Hollywood music supervisors already have an established network of musicians
they use on a regular basis and are wary of stepping outside of that comfort
zone, said Joel High, an independent music supervisor and president of Santa
Monica, Calif.-based Creative Control.
³They don¹t think about doing something different than what they¹ve done
hundreds of times before,² said High, who helped organize the Sync Up trip
and has worked with Louisiana musicians while scoring films for New Orleans
native Tyler Perry. ³No one wants to be the groundbreaker and potentially be
burned. It takes people making them aware of other possibilities for them to
get out of that mindset of using what they¹re used to.²
Few of the music supervisors traveling to New Orleans knew anything about
the tax incentive program before Aiges contacted them.
Coming attractions
Ashley Miller, a music supervisor with Millennium Films and New Image,
recently scored ³Major Movie Star,² a Jessica Simpson vehicle filmed in
³I just became aware of what is available not only so far as the incentives
go but in terms of recording facilities in New Orleans,² Miller said. ³So
the primary reason I¹m going on this trip is I want to see the studios, meet
the players and investigate what¹s available. There is no denying there is a
rich musical heritage there, and I want to see what we can use for future
Jennifer Pyken, music supervisor for Lucky Duck Music, is working on
³Maxim¹s Mardi Gras,² a film set and shot in New Orleans. She said she
planned to use local musicians because of the subject of the movie but
didn¹t know she could recoup 25 percent of the money paid to the artists.
Gary Calamar, music supervisor for Go Music Services, is scoring two
productions filming in Louisiana ‹ the HBO vampire series ³True Blood² and
³I Love You Philip Morris,² both of which will use local artists.
Calamar said he heard ³rumblings² about a tax incentive but didn¹t know any
of the details. During the trip he hopes to learn more but, like Miller and
Pyken, he said the tax break is not the only incentive to hiring local
³Just the idea of helping the region and getting more money down there is
incentive alone,² Calamar said. ³But it¹s always nice to save a little
money, and the two together is a beautiful one-two punch.²€

More information about the jazzproglist mailing list