AES Section Meeting Reports

Pacific Northwest - June 20, 2018

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The PNW Section held its final meeting of the season on June 20, conducted its election, and welcomed composer Ron Jones for an evening of his thoughts on a wide range of topics. 23 AES members and 19 others attended the meeting, held at Shoreline Community College in Shoreline, WA.

For 37 years, Ron composed music for TV in Los Angeles, working on shows like Star Trek: Next Generation, American Dad, and Family Guy. In 2014 he relocated from L.A. to Stanwood, WA (an hour north of Seattle) and started Skymuse Studios. So far, he has composed over 40,000 registered works, and is still going strong after his move to Washington — last year his studio provided all of the audio for the feature film "Fight For Space" and Ron has a large jazz band he conducts, writes and arranges for, Jazz Forest. 

The evening's host/moderator was Steve Turnidge. Steve, incoming PNW Section vice-chair, has long been active in the AES and the Recording academy, and has written two books on mastering for Hal Leonard, among his career highlights.

Ron talked about a variety of topics and responded to many questions. He grew up in Bellevue WA, near Seattle, played brass in a drum & bugle corps, and wanted to know how music production worked. Moving to L.A. (he thought, just for a while to pick up some chops), he worked as a music copyist for a company that had famous animation house Hanna-Barbera as a client. He snuck into a scoring session and soon started working on sessions.

He spoke at length about the music scoring business, from the grinding pace, to the way work is delegated (and how that is changing), to the mindset about the future in L.A., and how composer royalties work. Ron told about a time when he often visited the emergency room for stress symptoms — and was told there were a lot of musicians also coming in. He saw that composers were becoming merely delegators and he missed the creative collaboration. The L.A. scene, he feels, is busy with today's work and isn't looking much to the future. He thinks that large production companies seem well organized in keeping detailed track of royalties, and you were more likely to get your fair share than when working for a small company. After much legal work by royalty organizations like ASCAP, the payoff is much better nowadays.

While in L.A., Ron started the non-profit Academy of Scoring Arts to help those interested in learning the field, which has grown and become quite active. It seeks to advance knowledge about scoring for visual media by bringing together the creatives involved for masterclasses and other events. At Skymuse, he continues this work.

About the move to the Pacific NorthWest (besides being a native), he believes that the PNW is a tech powerhouse, including audio research. However, in order to become a great place for scoring, some things have to fall in place. He cited a book on marketing (The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing — Violate them at Your Own Risk! By Al Ries and Jack Trout). What the area needs, he feels, is to become "first" at something rather than trying to be best, and there are several audio fields coming into focus. Also, there is merit to just being different, at anything. Skymuse Studios has 22 acres in the woods of Stanwood, with a scoring stage and recording studios in the compound. It's a different experience than working in Hollywood.

Ron has always composed with pencil and paper, which gives him the nuances of expression he likes (subsequent assistants will convert things to digital for the remainder of the workflow). He loves the creative collaboration of working with the composers, arrangers, orchestrators, musicians, engineers, directors and the like. In the end, people want a good story, not just a 3-D gimmick, and good scoring needs to be attuned to the human sensitivity and reception.

At this point, a break was held for refreshments and elections. Paper ballots were handed out to members, collected and counted during the break. Door prizes were also awarded:

Prize winners were:
-Fluke Volt-Light (courtesy Rick Rodriguez) - won by Dave Tosti-Lane
-Amprobe DMM (courtesy Rick Rodriguez) — won by Dave Quick
-AES 2006 convention papers CD — won by Gary Louie

Election results:
2018-2019 PNW Section Officers:
Chair - Bob Moses
Vice-Chair - Steve Turnidge
Secretary - Gary Louie
Treasurer - Lawrence Schwedler

New Committee:
Bill Gibson
Steve Kirk
Glenn Lorbecki
Dana Olson
Brian Schmidt

Ron Jones then returned for some additional talk about Skymuse Studios, masterclasses held there, the Academy of Scoring Arts, and his jazz band that performs in the area, Jazz Forest. Some questions involved composing for immersive media, royalties details, Walter Murphy (current composer for Family Guy), and cue sheets.

Finally, Bob Moses spoke a bit about his hopes for leading the PNW Section as its new chair.

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