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Home » Electronic Media Services » EMSD and SSD – Working Together to Cover All the Bases

EMSD and SSD – Working Together to Cover All the Bases

  -  AFM Electronic Media Services Division Director

Over the years, the Electronic Media Services Division (EMSD) and the Symphonic Services Division (SSD) have consulted on certain electronic media projects involving symphony, opera, ballet, or chamber orchestras. This is because some projects have a tendency to “crossover” from a true symphonic nature to non-symphonic.

There are usually several factors in determining when an orchestra that has undertaken an electronic media project is deemed not subject to agreements administered by the Symphonic Services Division. Keeping in mind that there may be variations on theme that can change the outlook of a project, the factors are outlined as follows:

•  The orchestra does not have a collective bargaining agreement with the AFM local in whose jurisdiction it is based.

•  The orchestra is not eligible to become signatory to the Integrated Media Agreement or other applicable symphonic media agreement administered exclusively by the Symphonic Services Division.

• The orchestra does not have a tenured roster.

• The project is of a commercial nature and therefore not covered by a symphonic media agreement.

Even with the foregoing bullet items, as a general rule, when the EMSD is approached by either a symphony, opera, ballet, or chamber orchestra, or by a local officer, we will confer with our colleague Debbie Newmark, director of Symphonic Electronic Media, to ensure that the proper rates are offered.

Over the past few months due to COVID-19, the two divisions have been in consultation on even more projects to determine which department would oversee it and guide the AFM local having jurisdiction over the event. These projects are usually of the streaming variety. At the onset of the pandemic, the two divisions developed guidelines to enable orchestras and theaters to present performances during this time when venues are closed to live performances. These guidelines are outlined in previous issues of the International Musician. However, one such example is if the stream is a one-time live event and it is password-protected so that only subscribers or ticketholders can view the performance. Under non-symphonic conditions, there is no charge for the stream of the live performance.

I remember back in my early days at the AFM when our various agreements were far less complex and, prior to the existence of a director of symphonic electronic media, the EMSD handled all forms of symphonic electronic media as part of its operation. The first of many situations that comes to mind was seeking payment for members of the Pittsburgh Symphony for a series of radio broadcasts in Scotland while the orchestra was in residency. We would seek the input of the symphony department, but EMSD would administer the appropriate agreements. As things evolved, it was decided that our colleagues in the SSD would handle symphonic electronic media matters except for the instances marked by the bullet items above. This has worked out well as the workload in both divisions has grown significantly.

The folks in the EMSD have interacted with all divisions of the AFM, but none more than the SSD. There is a relationship there that has worked well and serves all musicians performing electronic services.

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