ASCAP’s Shameful Treatment of Fred Karlin’s Legacy

Film Music Institute > Film Music Magazine (Archives) > Final Note (Archive) > ASCAP’s Shameful Treatment of Fred Karlin’s Legacy

UPDATE 7/30/08: ASCAP has deleted the historical press release about the workshop that omitted Fred Karlin’s name and posted in it’s place this 20th anniversary tribute including full credit for Fred Karlin plus a mini-bio of Fred’s life and accomplishments. Thanks to everyone who wrote in and let their voice be heard on this issue, and thanks to ASCAP for listening and correcting the record. We hope ASCAP will continue to honor Fred by adding his name to the workshop as they did with Buddy Baker so that Fred’s legacy will always be remembered.


Below is a letter that has been sent to ASCAP regarding the absence of any credit or mention of workshop founder Fred Karlin, who passed away in 2004, in their celebratory historical perspective of the workshop’s 20th anniversary. ASCAP’s actions are a sad commentary on an industry that, time and time again, is far too quick to forget those who gave of their energy and passion to build what we enjoy today. Personally, I find ASCAP’s actions – both stripping Fred’s name from the workshop he created and then disrespecting him by not including a single reference or credit in a widely publicized historical account of of the 20 years of the workshop to be disgusting. Fred was a friend and a great film music composer and educator who created what is now the crown jewel of the ASCAP Film & TV department. He deserves much better.

July 8, 2008

Mr. John LoFrumento, CEO
One Lincoln Plaza
New York, NY 10023

Dear Mr. LoFrumento:

I read with amazement your celebratory historical press release about the 20th Anniversary of the ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop that completely omitted the name and any credit at all for the man who founded and built that workshop into much of what it is today, the late Oscar and Emmy-winning film and television composer Fred Karlin. Fred was a friend of mine, and built up that workshop and much of what it has become with tremendous amounts of his time, energy and passion. For ASCAP not to mention or properly credit him in this historical retrospective is outrageous and wrong, and is a slap in the face to Fred’s historic legacy as a great composer and educator.

1,326 words in that press release about the workshop, yet not a single mention of Fred Karlin, its founder and creator. And did the current host of the workshop, touted by ASCAP in the release as “legendary composer” Richard Bellis, mention Fred even once? Nope. Same for ASCAP’s Nancy Knutsen and Mike Todd, who didn’t mention Fred in their quotes in the release either.

Fred Karlin founded and built up the ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop (previously called the ASCAP/Fred Karlin Film Scoring Workshop on ASCAP’s website, but his name was eliminated from the workshop by ASCAP – another classy move by ASCAP) with his own personal industry contacts, and he spent a great deal of his own time – unpaid, I’m sure – developing that workshop into what it is today. Indeed, the format used today including the recording sessions and industry VIP speakers were pioneered by Fred through his energy and love for film music and up and coming film composers. As a participant in the Workshop myself in 1994, I found it to be an invaluable experience, as so many others have, and being selected for that workshop was the primary reason I and others I know moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film scoring here. That’s why ASCAP’s actions in this regard are especially painful for those of us who benefited so much from Fred’s love of film music and teaching film music students.

Even your NYU workshop incorporated “in memory of Buddy Baker” into the title after his passing, so why would ASCAP deny that honor to Fred Karlin who founded and created the LA workshop?

For an organization that is supposed to honor, respect and value the creative works of others, ASCAP’s behavior in this matter has been nothing short of shameful. I urge you to value and respect Fred Karlin’s years of hard work and dedication to up and coming film composers by restoring the name of this workshop to The ASCAP/Fred Karlin Film Scoring Workshop and honor his work and creative energy just as you did with Buddy Baker.

Frankly speaking, Fred Karlin deserves nothing less, and today’s film scoring workshop participants as well as the industry deserve to know the true legacy of the workshop that Fred built.


Mark Northam
ASCAP Writer and Publisher Member


  • Don Cinquemani(former trumpeter)
    December 1, 2011 @ 2:38 pm

    I saw the movie “The Take” and thought that the music was great!!

    Fred Karlin must have a mention and this should be corrected.


  • Richard Simpson
    March 28, 2013 @ 4:08 pm

    So disappointed to hear about this. Fred Karlin was a genius and should be given much respect for the musical marvel he was. It seems nowadays respect for the ones who embodied what talent means has been lost. Classes should be given in honor, respect and integrity, so that all the fine artists we have lost can be remembered for their amazing contributions to art.

Comments are closed.