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.
July 3, 2018Ray Hair - AFM International President
The Federation’s negotiations with its bargaining partners, whether on an industry-wide, single-, or multi-employer basis, are a never-ending process. Other than contracts with touring producers such as the Broadway League, most of our negotiations seek improvements in compensation and working conditions when musicians are engaged to perform electronic media services either streamed or broadcast live, or captured for analog and digital distribution.
We also negotiate for additional compensation when content is replayed or reused in domestic and foreign analog markets and when content is distributed digitally by subscription video on-demand (SVOD) or advertiser-based video on-demand (AVOD) services.
Our program of collective bargaining and contract enforcement is aggressive, and most recently resulted in the conclusion of a progressive, groundbreaking successor agreement with the sound recording industry, which, by harnessing streaming royalties, has provided significant additional employer contributions to the AFM-EP Fund and has revitalized the Sound Recording Special Payments Fund and Music Performance Trust Fund.
The current emphasis in all Federation media negotiations is streaming and its potential to provide new money for musicians whose services are embodied in streaming content, and new money for our residual and benefit funds. Media consumption has transitioned away from traditional physical product, such as compact discs and DVDs, toward digital formats and streaming. As a result, we are bargaining for our digital future—concentrating on replacing musicians’ declining residual revenue from traditional physical and analog sources with revenue from digital media distribution. What follows is a thumbnail sketch of recently concluded negotiations and talks in progress.
Negotiations for a successor agreement reached a short-term truce in March, when a one-year deal with a 3% wage increase was concluded and ratified. The previous contracts, covering sidelining, scoring, and music preparation services for theatrical motion pictures and films made for television, expired April 5, 2018. Tension in the bargaining centered around our concerns over the rapid rise of viewer consumption of theatrical, TV film, and made-for-streaming productions on AVOD and SVOD platforms. Our team will continue to address these concerns when discussions reconvene later this year.
The Federation and the jingle industry recently agreed to extend the existing agreement for 18 months to December 1, 2019, with a 2% increase in all wage items, including session, use, and reuse cycle fees. Ratification of the extension is now underway. The existing agreement, negotiated in June 2014, contains significant increases for exhibition of online commercial announcements, but we expect that discussions next year toward a successor agreement will necessarily focus on the licensing of content in lieu of new original scoring by covered advertisers.
Negotiations began in 2016 with the TV broadcast networks for a successor agreement covering musicians performing on all live or pre-recorded television shows, including all late night talk shows, all variety shows such as Dancing With the Stars, awards shows such as the Grammys, and live morning shows where guest artists frequently appear. After four rounds of negotiations spanning 18 months, where the networks stonewalled the Federation and refused to bargain over our proposals for progressive provisions covering AVOD and SVOD distribution of live programs and better terms for initial exhibition on streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon, the bottleneck was broken after the networks, responding to concerted activity from TV musicians, agreed to engage and negotiate terms when musicians performances are streamed. Our next round of negotiations is scheduled July 9-13 in New York City.
The Federation negotiates with an employer media association consisting of 94 orchestra management/members to set terms and conditions covering media services and content exploitation on behalf of musicians employed under collective bargaining agreements by those orchestra managements. We are assisted by members of symphonic player conference (ICSOM and ROPA) media committees and local officers. We engage the managers and their consultants in lively discussions concerning the creation and institutional use of symphonic media. The initial, existing agreement, administered by Symphonic Electronic Media Director Debbie Newmark, was negotiated in 2015 and expired June 2017. After numerous bargaining sessions, the parties have narrowed their differences substantially, but are still apart on economic items and provisions applicable to promotional use. The parties will meet again in August.
I will keep you advised of our progress in these important negotiations as we strive to keep current with changes in production, distribution, and consumption of media content, consistent with our mission of improving the lives of musicians everywhere.