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.
September 1, 2021IM -
by Pat Varriale, AFM Electronic Media Services Division Director and Assistant to the President
One of the many types of projects the EMSD is involved with is musician recordings that take place at venues in the United States and are ultimately released as sound recordings. The following narrative describes one case for which the EMSD has been attempting to collect payments due to musicians for several months.
Recordings were made of musicians performing with a high profile recording artist while on tour. The performances were subsequently released as a sound recording. AFM EMSD filed a claim against the signatory record company for payments due the musicians under the Location Recording provisions of the Sound Recording Labor Agreement (SRLA).
This seemed straightforward until representatives of the record company balked at its obligations, citing that the performances were recorded by the artist’s management company and not the label, even though the label acquired and released the product.
Another obstacle the label attempted to use against paying for the recorded performances was the fact that the touring agreement with the musicians contained provisions stating that the payments under that agreement included any recordings and use of the performances. Upon consultation with our colleagues in the AFM Touring/Theatre/Booking Division, we confirmed that the agreement was not filed with the AFM. Further, the “touring agreement” was with each individual musician and their employer. Not all of the musicians signed the agreement, yet the musicians worked under it anyway.
If the musicians had had an AFM touring agreement in place, the obligation would have been between the AFM and the employer. This would have given the agreement more clout in terms of enforceable recording language and benefits, such as pension, which is an important legal advantage.
To complicate matters even further, live performance contracts required by the AFM, were not filed with the local where the live performances took place. The live performance contract contains protection if the performances are recorded.
Despite all these roadblocks, which weakened our position, it appears as if the AFM EMSD will prevail with a satisfactory settlement and be able to secure payments for the musicians. However, we have spent many months on what should have been a routine matter.
If the record company had succeeded, the musicians would have missed out on “upfront” location recording payments due under the SRLA and lose payments they would be entitled to from the Sound Recording Special Payments Fund. Plus, they would have received no “new use” payments if the product is licensed for further use.
It is strongly recommended that musicians, or their local on their behalf, contact the AFM when they are being offered the opportunity to participate in a tour. They will be made aware of the possible pitfalls, if the language in the touring agreement is not consistent with AFM standards and what steps can be taken to correct the situation.