Skip to main content

Banner Saga composer faces union expulsion over refusal to pay fine

the banner saga

Austin Wintory's Journey soundtrack earned him a Grammy Award nomination in 2012 for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media. But his work on The Banner Saga has resulted in something not nearly so happy: the threat of expulsion from the American Federation of Musicians, the union that represents him.

Wintory was charged by the musicians' union over the summer for working with non-union musicians on The Banner Saga soundtrack, something forbidden by the terms of a 2012 contract that Wintory claims AFM members did not vote on. He was initially facing a fine of as much as $50,000, but the final penalty, decided by the AFM International Executive Board, was set at $2500.

Despite the relatively small amount, Wintory is refusing to pay it. "Doing so would be to agree that their failed policies, selective tactics, and threats work," he told Variety. His lawyers are now "dealing with the realities of the board's ability to expel me," he added.

In lieu of paying the fine, Wintory has offered to donate $2500 to Education Through Music—Los Angeles, an organization that seeks to "to provide and promote music in disadvantaged schools as part of the core curriculum for every child to enhance students' academic achievement and creative and overall development." The AFM hasn't indicated whether it will accept his offer, but it has set a deadline of January 19 to pay the fine.

Somewhat surprisingly under the circumstances, the American Federation of Music Local 47, Wintory's local union branch, passed a resolution in October supporting him, and praised him in its in-house newsletter for his "strong support of the use of AFM musicians."

Andy Chalk
Andy covers the day-to-day happenings in the big, wide world of PC gaming—the stuff we call "news." In his off hours, he wishes he had time to play the 80-hour RPGs and immersive sims he used to love so much.