Now is the right time to become an American Federation of Musicians member. From ragtime to rap, from the early phonograph to today's digital recordings, the AFM has been there for its members. And now there are more benefits available to AFM members than ever before, including a multi-million dollar pension fund, excellent contract protection, instrument and travelers insurance, work referral programs and access to licensed booking agents to keep you working.
As an AFM member, you are part of a membership of more than 80,000 musicians. Experience has proven that collective activity on behalf of individuals with similar interests is the most effective way to achieve a goal. The AFM can negotiate agreements and administer contracts, procure valuable benefits and achieve legislative goals. A single musician has no such power.
The AFM has a proud history of managing change rather than being victimized by it. We find strength in adversity, and when the going gets tough, we get creative - all on your behalf.
Like the industry, the AFM is also changing and evolving, and its policies and programs will move in new directions dictated by its members. As a member, you will determine these directions through your interest and involvement. Your membership card will be your key to participation in governing your union, keeping it responsive to your needs and enabling it to serve you better. To become a member now, visit www.afm.org/join.
January 1, 2024Kim Roberts Hedgpeth - Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund (FMSMF) Executive Director
January not only rings in a new year but it rings in a new chapter in the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund’s evolution.
Over six years ago, the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund (FMSMF) began a multi-year process of transformation—starting with an in-depth review of every internal business process. We performed an exhaustive study of our existing technology systems. A new comprehensive data system was identified, selected, designed, and brought online.
We ultimately reorganized the fund’s internal departments to capitalize on efficiencies, enhanced analysis, reporting, and outreach capabilities made possible by the new system. As reported last year, we elevated a new generation of department leaders on staff to expedite the fund’s transformation.
The FMSMF delivered residuals to musicians on time—even through the turbulence of the pandemic. The complex work required for this transformation was invisible to participants. To the outside world, not much had changed. However, by the end of 2023, FMSMF was transformed. As the curtain rises on 2024, the fund will debut new features for participants and outreach to contributing companies.
The website (www.fmsmf.org) may look the same, but it has been upgraded with enhanced security and upgrades to make it easier for participants to navigate and use. Among the new features are a user-friendly mobile and tablet interface, streamlined navigation and menu structures, and refined search features for new paid films and unclaimed residuals. We are debuting two key improvements for 2024. Participants may now download their residual statements as printable PDFs. And starting with the 2023 tax statements to be issued January 31, 2024, participants enrolled in Account Access can get their tax forms online—no need to call or write the office asking for a replacement W-2 or 1099 when trying to find a missing copy at tax time.
Due to the limitations of the fund’s old system, if a participant needed a stale check or unclaimed residuals reissued, they may have had to wait several months for it to be processed in a batch. Those batches could only be processed two or three times per year. With FMSMF’s updated system, reissues of outstanding unclaimed residuals will be processed within two weeks after confirmation, meaning participants can get their money sooner.
Under the new system, we can upload documents and data with more speed and accuracy by eliminating much of the tedious manual data entry. Fund staff can now spend more time focusing on analysis, quality control, and equally important, education and communication with contributing companies (studios, indie producers, etc.) to encourage more accurate and timely reporting and payment of residuals.
In 2024, the FMSMF is initiating a new quarterly notification system designed to alert companies of new AFM-covered titles that need to be set up for residual reporting and to follow up on possible missing or lapsed contributions. In addition, the new Industry Relations Department is rolling out a contributor onboarding program to assist and educate smaller indie companies, which often do not have large residuals departments, about how musician residuals work and how to report those residuals.
The new system provides enhanced tools for the fund’s team of analysts to review the backup reports that accompany residuals remitted by contributing companies at a more granular level. This allows fund staff to identify errors and missed or underreported residuals earlier in the collections process. The additional detail accessible through the new system also provides more support to the FMSMF’s audit program through which the fund’s outside auditors review the companies’ books and records to ensure compliance with the AFM Film and Television agreements.
No project of this kind is ever finished. As FMSMF moves forward, our staff will discover new opportunities to leverage the features of our data system, continue refining processes for the benefit of participants, and adapt to changes in the industry, including streaming business models. All FMSMF staff, whether new or long tenured, understand how important secondary market residuals are to the lives and livelihoods of working musicians and their families. As such, every member of the fund staff makes serving participants their number one priority. In the months and years ahead, the FMSMF team will continue enhancing the fund’s ability to collect and distribute this vital income to musicians in a changing environment. This next generation of fund staff will build on the work of the past several years to fulfill that ongoing mission.
Fund staff could not have moved forward with the work of the last few years without the support of the AFM’s liaisons to the FMSMF, including past liaisons Phil Ayling, Rick Baptist, and AFM President Emeritus Ray Hair, as well as current liaisons Pete Anthony, Tom Calderaro, and AFM President Tino Gagliardi. I am truly grateful and thank them for supporting our team’s efforts.
On behalf of all the staff of FMSMF, I thank you for the honor of serving the professional musicians represented by the AFM and wish you and yours a prosperous 2024.