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.
February 25, 2015IM -
by Marc Sazer, RMA President and Member of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA)
As AFM President Ray Hair has reported, the American Federation of Musicians recently concluded negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers for our collective bargaining agreements covering theatrical motion pictures and television film. We are relieved to have gotten past the negotiating process, and can now set our sights on a top priority for affected musicians: employment. As we have reported previously, the AFM has relatively far fewer signatory producers than any other union in the film and TV industry, and the number of signatories has not grown for decades. This affects our whole union—our pension funds, our relationship with corporate media, and our position with sister media unions.
The Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) is a renowned (and sometimes feared) research and public policy powerhouse based in Los Angeles. Recently LAANE released a nearly 60-page report titled Keeping the Score, covering the state of AFM film scoring, its relationship to tax credits, and the offshoring of AFM musician employment.
Because LAANE is based in Southern California, this report focuses on the Los Angeles AFM experience. However, this project has created a role model for analysis through depth of research, and understanding of relationships between unionized musicians and the companies that employ them throughout North America. You can read an executive summary or the full report by clicking here.
Some of the key findings are startling: “The cost to production companies of employing recording musicians at the top industry standard is equivalent to 0.36% to 0.52% of a typical film’s production budget. By offshoring this work, production companies save less than one-quarter of 1% of the film’s production budget—or $143,000 on a typical $65 million film—yet the workers and the community lose $1.2 million.”
“Production companies avail themselves of tremendous taxpayer-provided benefits in the name of quality employment, making all Americans de facto film and television producers. Federal subsidies have historically provided over $200 million annually. State subsidies provide $1.7 billion annually. Consumers are paying more at the box office, as ticket prices have outstripped inflation. Yet production companies may skirt the law with their score-recording practices, if they are not paying required taxes when they import a score that was recorded with foreign subsidies, or when musicians are misclassified as independent contractors or paid under the table.”
The report makes a series of policy recommendations. I have highlighted a few here. Implementation of these policies would do more than create AFM employment. These policies would strengthen our pension funds, provide health care for musicians who depend on this work, and empower musicians in all areas of performance.
Recommendations to policy makers: