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.

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Ray Hair – AFM International President

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    A Restructured MPTF Resulted in Pension, Film, TV, and Sound Recording Residuals

    Part 2 of 2: Last month, my column discussed how former AFM President James Petrillo’s proposals to end two strikes against US recording companies—in 1942 and in 1948—led to the establishment of the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF).

    This month, I will describe how MPTF became a royalty feature of other major Federation media agreements, and how it was eventually restructured to create the AFM US and Canadian pension funds and royalty and reuse funds that are attached to the Federation’s Sound Recording, Motion Picture Film, Television Film, and TV and Radio Commercial Announcements (jingle) agreements.

    The settlement of the first strike in 1944 led to a 2.5% royalty obligation on the record labels’ gross revenue paid into a fund known as the Recording and Transcription Fund, which was located in the AFM’s treasury. Those payments accumulated $4.5 million through 1947 and were distributed on a per capita basis among all locals across the US and Canada for use in arranging admission-free public performances of live music.

    The Taft-Hartley Act, passed by Congress in 1947, forbade employer payments to unions except for joint health and welfare funds and pension funds. It made the Federation’s trust fund illegal, as it was originally set up.

    In January 1948, the Federation called another strike in response to the labels’ refusal to explore legally permissible ways to continue the trust fund. Lasting 11 months, the second strike was resolved when agreement was reached to establish the Music Performance Trust Fund as an independent entity, jointly overseen by the Federation and the recording industry.

    The parent firms of RCA Victor and Columbia record labels—the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) and the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS)—were the last holdouts in settling the 1944 strike. They were concerned that any such royalty arrangement would spread to their broadcast divisions. That turned out to be an accurate prophesy. In its first fiscal year ending June 30, 1950, revenue for the newly reconfigured MPTF was received solely from recording and transcription industries. Payouts to musicians that year totaled $900,000.

    As 1952 dawned upon the phonograph, television, and motion picture industries, four distinct trust funds were consolidated into the MPTF, which received percentages of industry revenues as follows:

    •3% from record sales

    •5% from movie producers’ release of theatrical films to television

    •5% from producers making films exclusively for television

    •$100 per spot from producers of jingles in radio and television

    By the end of the 1950s, with income multiplied by the three additional funds, annual disbursements would reach $6.325 million. Total funding from MPTF jobs over the entire decade of the 1950s would exceed $28 million.

    In spring 1958, Petrillo announced his decision to forgo nomination as president at the forthcoming June AFM Convention in Philadelphia. He recommended the delegates choose Vice President Herman Kenin of Portland, Oregon, as his successor. Kenin was elected as the AFM’s fourth president in a landslide vote.

    Kenin went to work bargaining successor industrywide agreements in the sound recording, motion picture film, television film, and jingle industries, with the prospect of reducing the employers’ trust fund obligations, in favor of developing pension benefits and residual payments that could supplement musicians’ income from original session work long after the recordings were performed.

    In 1959, Kenin and the recording industry established the AFM and Employers’ Pension Welfare Fund (AFM-EPW Fund), which later became the AFM-EP Fund. The pension fund became a feature of the AFM’s successor Phonograph Agreement in 1959, with MPTF contributions reduced from 3% to 1%, and pension fund contributions established at 8%.

    At first, the pension fund was available only to musicians doing record label sessions, but it was eventually incorporated into all Federation media and touring agreements and became available for inclusion in local collective bargaining agreements.

    In January 1961, Kenin negotiated a new TV film and motion picture film scoring contract featuring a 12% raise in minimum scoring pay, residuals on TV theme use, and a historic new provision permitting the licensing of film to television for a 1 2/3% residual payment. Known as a “secondary market payment,” the new film-to-television residuals were paid to musicians who performed the original score through a new fund known today as the Film Musicians Secondary Market Fund. Pension fund obligations were set at 3%.

    In the AFM’s successor television network agreement, pension contributions were set at 5% of scale. The new pension contribution and TV replay residual payment features were adopted in lieu of MPTF contributions.

    Also in 1961, Kenin announced his intention to create a new residual fund for musicians who performed sessions for the record labels. The AFM and the recording industry agreed to establish the AFM Phonograph Record Special Payments Fund, where the 1% revenue-based MPTF obligation was split—50% to MPTF and 50% to the Special Payments Fund. It made an annual payment to each session musician based upon the cumulative number of session hours worked each year.

    The $100 per jingle spot payment to MPTF was converted to a producer obligation to make a 13-week or 52-week cycle reuse payment to each musician who recorded the spot announcement.

    And so it went. From the early 1960s onward, the Federation negotiated groundbreaking contract provisions introducing pension contributions, jingle 13- and 52-week use payments, film and TV film secondary market payments, phono residuals, and new use payments for sound recordings licensed into film and other media. These priceless fringe benefits improved the lives of musicians whose recordings continued to bring joy to the consumer long after the conclusion of production. It all began with the creation of MPTF in settlement of the two legendary strikes in 1944 and 1948.

    The MPTF will celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2023. Its evolutionary relationship with AFM’s pension fund, Sound Recording Special Payments Fund, Film Secondary Markets Fund, and all other AFM ancillary residual funds should be celebrated as well.

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Jay Blumenthal – AFM International Secretary-Treasurer

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    Much Accomplished—And Much Remains to Be Done!

    Happy holidays to all. I don’t know about you, but every passing year seems to go by more quickly than the one before. Where did this past year go?

    We experienced some legislative successes in 2022 but there is still much work to be done in 2023. The mid-term elections have resulted in the Democrats holding onto their majority in the Senate (with a Warnock/Walker runoff election taking place on December 6) and the Republicans winning a majority in the House. It remains to be seen whether Democrats and Republicans can work together during the new Congress. There is some legislation affecting musicians that has some bipartisan support, so progress may be possible.

    Legislative bills and other goals remain works in progress:

    The American Music Fairness Act (HR 4130/S 4932) would establish a performance right for musicians when their music is played on terrestrial radio. This is key legislation that, if passed, will not only address fair payment to musicians for the use of their creative product, but it is also a necessary step to begin opening the door to payment from some foreign collectives when our music is played in other countries.

    Performing Arts Tax Parity Act (HR 4750/S 2872) would re-establish the deductions for unreimbursed work-related expenses incurred by performing artists, which were lost during the Trump administration.

    Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, if passed, would restore the right of workers to freely and fairly form a union and bargain together for changes in the workplace. Over the years, anti-union forces have eroded unions’ ability to organize workplaces free from employer interference.

    The AFM has joined with other US Fish and Wildlife Service and US Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) stakeholders to address Brazil’s proposal to raise Pernambuco wood species from Appendix II to CITES Appendix I. At the 19th Conference of the Parties to CITES meeting in Panama, which recently concluded, US stakeholders hoped to devise a more reasonable international solution to Brazil’s proposal. Pernambuco wood is used globally to make bows for string instruments. Questions about the meeting can be directed to AFM Legislative-Political Director Alfonso Pollard, (apollard@afm.org).

    A significant achievement that occurred this past year was the confirmation of the first African American woman to the United States Supreme Court. This historic moment was long overdue. Though the court remains predominantly conservative, this confirmation is an important milestone. The newest associate justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson, has already made it clear that she will be an important and outspoken voice on the court.

    Stubborn inflationary pressures are caused in part by government spending (used to ease the pandemic hardships on families); the sustained disruption of supply chains causing demand to outpace supply; and the high cost of fuel resulting from sanctions on Russian oil due to the invasion of Ukraine, as well as recent Saudi oil production cuts. The higher energy costs create increased transportation costs, which are passed on to consumers when they purchase goods and food. The Fed’s efforts to curb inflation by raising interest rates raises borrowing costs, including credit cards and mortgages. We seem to be experiencing an inflationary “perfect storm.”

    This year saw musicians continuing their return to work. Broadway shows are open, touring shows are traveling, and the symphonic season is well underway. That said, the post-pandemic economic recovery remains agonizingly slow. The hope is that we will see economic improvement in 2023. Even perfect storms pass, eventually.

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alan willaert

Alan Willaert – AFM Vice President from Canada

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    Wooden You Know It … Canadian Office Lobbies for Less Restrictive Pernambuco Regulations

    As a member of the International Federation of Musicians (FIM), Canada was asked to participate in lobbying our government representatives who are attending the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to vote against a proposal by Brazil (CoP19 Prop. 49) to move Pernambuco trees from Appendix II to Appendix I, establishing Pernambuco as a more highly restricted species. Such action would make it extremely difficult for string players who own Pernambuco bows to cross international borders, and nonregistered bows could be seized.

    Brazilwood or Pernambuco is a rare exotic hardwood that is a burnt reddish-orange color. It is noteworthy that Brazil was named after this wood due to the fact that the vivid orange and burnt red colors of the wood closely resemble the soil of Brazil. The rigidity, flexibility, density, and beauty of this wood, combined with its ability to hold a fixed curve, makes Pernambuco a unique material that is essential to bow making and to the musicians who use these bows. This high quality is of fundamental importance for the sound of the instrument.

    Bows made of Pernambuco wood are used by almost all string players worldwide, due to the wood’s flexibility, density, weight, and special character.  The tree does not begin to produce the hard, dark heartwood for which it is renowned until it is 10 years old and the heartwood only becomes dominant after 20 years. A reforestation program in the state of Pernambuco has shown that a properly pruned and cared for tree will produce heartwood suitable for bow making in 30 to 35 years, as opposed to the 80 to 100 years required for a tree in the wild.

    In their proposal, Brazil has stated: “Investigations by IBAMA and the Federal Police found that the Brazilian bow making industry is reportedly using illegally harvested native wood to feed the growing international market for musical instrument bows in the US, Europe, and Asia. Serious frauds recently discovered indicate that companies and independent bow makers have been deceiving the environmental inspection, fraudulently entering data in the control systems, and bringing illicit material into the companies, making materials of illegal origin appear legal. Urgent measures are needed to repress these criminal activities, not only with actions at the national level, but also with increased rigour and control of the international transport of these woods. The inclusion of Brazilwood in Appendix I of CITES aims to increase these restrictions on international trade, with the expectation that the pressures on the remaining native populations of this species on the Brazilian coast will be reduced.”

    If adopted, all international travel by Canadian musicians playing stringed instruments and carrying Pernambuco bows, including bows made decades or even centuries ago, would be subject to CITES permit, inspection, and accreditation requirements at international ports of entry. The adoption of this proposal would jeopardize the international exposure of Canadian orchestras and soloists by making it extremely difficult for them to travel outside Canada, when they carry bows made of Pernambuco.

    Pernambuco is found only in Brazil’s Atlantic rainforest and is an essential part of the country’s natural heritage. In 2000, bow makers responded by forming the International Pernambuco Conservation Initiative (IPCI), a project funded entirely by the bow makers. The IPCI has been a driving force for Pernambuco conservation.  Its efforts have led to the planting of more than 340,000 Pernambuco seedlings in partnership with the Brazilian government, small cocoa farmers, and Brazilian environmental nongovernmental organizations. When some of these trees reach maturity, they and other trees are reforested in Atlantic rainforest communities.

    In support of symphony musicians and orchestras, the Canadian Office, the Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM), and Local 406 (Montreal, PQ) have encouraged our representatives to vote against Proposal 49. The proposal would significantly damage the international outreach of our Canadian orchestras and soloists. There are other methods to stop illegal harvesting and trade.

    I would like to thank Luc Fortin, president of Local 406, for his assistance authoring and distributing our letter to government, as well as Robert Fraser, president of OCSM, for helping make musicians and the public aware of this important intervention.

    Since this is my last column for 2022, I would like to wish all of our officers, staff, members, and their families peace, love, and serenity during the holiday season and a happy, prosperous New Year.


    Le Bureau canadien milite en faveur de règlements moins sévères sur le pernambouc

    par Alan Willaert, vice-président de la FAM pour le Canada

    À titre de membre de la Fédération internationale des musiciens, le Canada a été invité à participer aux pressions exercées sur nos représentants gouvernementaux qui assistent à la Convention sur le commerce international des espèces de faune et de flore sauvages menacées d’extinction (CITES) afin qu’ils votent contre une proposition du Brésil (CoP19 Prop. 49) visant à faire passer les arbres de Pernambouc de l’Annexe II à l’Annexe I, ce qui en ferait une espèce plus restreinte. Une telle mesure compliquerait le passage aux frontières internationales pour les instrumentistes à cordes qui possèdent des archets en pernambouc, et permettrait la saisie d’archets non enregistrés.

    Le bois du Brésil, aussi appelé brésillet, bois-brésil ou pernambouc, est un bois dur exotique rare de teinte brun rouge. Fait intéressant, le Brésil doit son nom à ce bois en raison des couleurs orange vif et rouge brûlé du bois qui ressemblent de près à celles de la terre du Brésil. La rigidité, la flexibilité, la densité et la beauté de ce bois combinées à sa capacité à tenir une courbe fixe en font un matériau unique qui est essentiel pour la fabrication d’archets et pour les musiciens qui les utilisent. Cette remarquable qualité revêt une importance fondamentale pour la sonorité des instruments.

    Les archets en bois de Pernambouc sont utilisés par presque tous les instrumentistes à cordes du monde en raison de la flexibilité de ce bois, de sa densité, de son poids et de son caractère unique. Les arbres de Pernambouc ne commencent à produire le cœur dur et foncé pour lequel ils sont reconnus qu’à partir de l’âge de 10 ans, et le cœur ne devient dominant qu’après 20 ans. Un programme de reboisement dans l’état du Pernambouc a permis de démontrer qu’un arbre bien taillé et soigné produira du bois approprié pour la fabrication d’archets en 30 à 35 ans plutôt qu’en 80 ou 100 ans dans la nature.

    Dans sa proposition, le Brésil déclare : « Les enquêtes de l’Institut brésilien pour l’environnement et les ressources naturelles renouvelables et de la police fédérale ont révélé que l’industrie brésilienne de fabrication d’archets récolte illégalement du bois indigène pour alimenter le marché international croissant des archets pour instruments à cordes des États-Unis, d’Europe et d’Asie. Des fraudes graves découvertes récemment indiquent que des entreprises et des archetiers indépendants ont déjoué les inspections environnementales, entré frauduleusement des données dans les systèmes de contrôle, apporté des matériaux illicites dans les entreprises et fait paraître légitimes des matériaux dont l’origine est illégale. La prise de mesures urgentes s’impose pour réprimer ces activités, non seulement à l’échelle nationale, mais aussi par l’exercice d’une plus grande rigueur et d’un contrôle accru du transport international de ces bois. La volonté d’inclure le bois-brésil dans l’Annexe I de la CITES vise à accroître les restrictions sur le commerce international dans l’espoir de réduire les pressions sur les populations indigènes restantes de cette espèce sur la côte brésilienne. »

    Si cette proposition est adoptée, tout déplacement international de musiciens canadiens jouant des instruments à cordes et qui transportent des archets en pernambouc, y compris des archets fabriqués il y a des décennies ou même des siècles, sera assujetti aux permis CITES, à l’inspection et aux exigences d’accréditation aux points d’entrée internationaux. Cette lourdeur mettrait en péril le rayonnement des orchestres et des solistes canadiens à l’étranger en leur rendant extrêmement difficiles les déplacements à l’extérieur du Canada lorsqu’ils transportent des archets en pernambouc.

    Le pernambouc ne se trouve que dans la forêt pluviale atlantique du Brésil et il constitue un élément essentiel du patrimoine naturel national. En 2000, les archetiers se sont mobilisés en créant la nouvelle Initiative internationale pour la conservation du pernambouc (International Pernambuco Conservation Initiative [IPCI]), projet entièrement financé par les archetiers eux-mêmes. L’IPCI a joué un rôle moteur dans la conservation du pernambouc. Ses interventions ont permis la plantation de plus de 340 000 pousses de pernambouc en partenariat avec le gouvernement du Brésil, des petits cultivateurs de cacao et des organisations environnementales non gouvernementales du Brésil. Lorsque certains de ces arbres parviendront à maturité, ils seront replantés dans des collectivités de la forêt pluviale atlantique.

    En appui aux orchestres symphoniques et à leurs musiciens, le Bureau canadien, l’Organisation des musiciens d’orchestre du Canada (OMOSC) et la section locale 406 (Montréal, Qué.) ont encouragé nos représentants à voter contre la proposition 49, qui nuirait grandement au rayonnement international de nos orchestres et de nos solistes canadiens. Il existe d’autres moyens de mettre fin à la récolte et au commerce illégaux.

    J’aimerais remercier Luc Fortin, président de la section 406, de son assistance dans la rédaction et la distribution de notre lettre au gouvernement, de même que Robert Fraser, président de l’OMOSC, pour son concours à la sensibilisation des musiciens et du public à cette importante intervention.

    La présente étant ma dernière chronique pour 2022, j’aimerais offrir à tous nos dirigeants, nos employés, nos membres et leurs familles mes vœux de paix, d’amour et de sérénité pour la période des fêtes ainsi que d’une heureuse et prospère nouvelle année.

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Racism and Labor: Important Training to Eliminate Racism from Our Union

For some time, the Officer Education Committee, which I chair, has been working in conjunction with the Diversity Committee to put together a training program for AFM leadership, senior staff, local officers, and boards. This will eventually flow through AFM leadership to our members at large. The AFM, as well as most unions over our long histories, have not always dealt well with the issue of racism in our ranks. Our Diversity Committee has been in place for over 20 years, and despite their best efforts, and the efforts of other segments of our organization, institutional racism, and implicit bias remain a challenge. We must prioritize this work.

To that end, we set up a training program with the Washington State Labor Council (WSLC), which has done great work in conjunction with Bill Fletcher Jr. He is an activist who has focused on racism in labor for many years and has written extensively on the subject. One of his writings that’s central to this training is a booklet called “Race to Labor: Can Organized Labor Be an Agent of Socialized and Economic Justice?” An audiovisual presentation that also speaks to this can be found online. If you want links to either of these, feel free to contact me (afm99pres@gmail.com) and I’ll forward them to you.

This training recently took place during two four-hour sessions with two trainers from the WSLC. The “train the trainer” program will allow us to replicate the training throughout our union. Attendees included: AFM President Ray Hair, Diversity Committee members Tracey Whitney, president of Local 618 (Albuquerque, NM); Edmond Velasco, president of Local 7 (Orange County, CA); and Varun Vyas, secretary-treasurer of Local 571 (Halifax, NS); International Executive Board member Tina Morrison of Local 105 (Spokane, WA); Organizing & Education Division Director Michael Manley; Faith Nolan of Local 1000 (nongeographic); and myself.

It’s important to understand that, in the context of this training, race is not a biological distinction. This is made clear when you look at it in the historical context. According to Fletcher, we can trace “race” back to the late 1400s in Spain and the 1500s in England. The colonization of the Americas led to full implementation of racism in North America. There are alternate ways to define racism, but for the purposes of this training, we focused on this definition: “Racism is a system of oppression, designed to divide the working class, so the wealthy elite can consolidate their wealth and power at the very top.”

The training focuses on five distinct manifestations of racism: malicious, coded, routine/cultural, systemic/institutional, and strategic. All these pieces fit together, and if we are able to interrupt one, we have the ability to disrupt the entire system.

Here’s a quick overview of each:

Malicious—Ugly, violent and socially destructive, burning crosses and white hoods, hurtful words, and angry comments. It’s easy to identify and easy to condemn.

Coded—Works by invoking racial stereotypes. It’s coded because politicians deploy these stereotypes without expressly mentioning race.

Routine/Cultural—For most of us, racism is routine, forming part of our everyday understanding of the world, even for people who mean well, and even for people of color.

Systemic/Institutional—Institutions (education, health care, unions, school to prison pipeline) support the systems and contribute to and reinforce racist systems.

Strategic—The decision to manipulate the racial fears and hatred of others for selfish ends. The “strategy” is to divide and conquer, and it has been at the core of American politics for the last half-century, if not longer.

Using these manifestations as a starting point, the rest of the training dives into work in identifying these manifestations in our daily lives and provides the tools to actively fight to eliminate them from our activities. We have all experienced or been a part of racism in the workplace, but few of us are able to identify all of the ways it presents itself. To be able to make real, cultural change, we have to see it in all of its forms.

This is a quick overview of what is coming. We are focused on ensuring this training will be a safe and secure place for difficult conversations that need to happen, so that we can, once and for all, start to unpack and repair all the damage that has been done and fix the prejudicial systems and attitudes that have been in place for far too long. It is beyond time to make real change and live up to our nations’ declaration: “… that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

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Theaters Must Keep Live Musical Performances Live

I was attending my first International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians
(ICSOM) Conference in 2011 when I learned about the Theatre Musicians Association (TMA). Tom Mendel, who was TMA president, gave a report on TMA at the conference.

Afterwards, I took the opportunity to introduce myself and ask his advice about starting a chapter in Washington, DC. Mendel was gracious and helpful in this effort. I’ll never forget all his support. Eleven years later, our chapter continues to grow, expanding several years ago to include Baltimore.

The primary reason for wanting to start a chapter at our local was that Washington has quite a vibrant musical theater scene. I felt it would be extremely beneficial for our members to have access to information from other chapters around the country in order to stay current on the various issues affecting their work and compare notes. I am grateful to Mendel, his successor Tony D’Amico, and current TMA President Heather Boehm, for all of their work on behalf of theater musicians over the years.

Today the musicians working on musical theater productions are faced with increasing challenges—the lingering COVID pandemic, smaller scale orchestrations, an increase in the number of non-union tours, and a new technology called KeyComp, which could have serious repercussions for future musician livelihoods. TMA President Boehm has worked tirelessly to communicate the concern over this technology with locals and TMA chapters over the course of the last year and deserves our appreciation for her efforts.

These issues will also play a role in negotiations for a successor Pamphlet B agreement next year. Pamphlet B covers terms and conditions of employment of touring musicians. The solidarity and support of all theater musicians, locals, and travelers alike, will be invaluable to achieving the best outcome in those negotiations.

To address the KeyComp issue specifically, our local, Local 161-710 (Washington, DC), has included virtual orchestra ban language in most of our local theater agreements. When bargaining successor agreements with these venues, we have updated that language to include KeyComp in the definition of virtual orchestra. Let’s work together to keep live musical performances live!

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Terryl Jares

Workers’ Rights Amendment Is Good for All Workers

This November, the citizens of Illinois will be given the opportunity to make history. The Workers’ Rights Amendment will be the first issue on the ballot where voters will be asked to vote on giving protections to workers and unions. If passed, it will prohibit the passage of “right to work” laws and ban any law or local ordinance that interferes with, negates, or diminishes the right of employees to organize and bargain collectively over their wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment and workplace safety.

Right to work laws shrink a union’s economic resources and thus weaken their bargaining power. As a result, union membership rates are significantly lower in the 27 right to work states than in the 23 free collective bargaining states.

A recent study by the Illinois Economic Policy showed that union workers earn more, are more likely to have health care coverage and own their homes, and contribute more to their community. It’s all about building a better life with a strong middle class.

For the last 60 years, there has been a steady effort to erode the rights of workers and bust union organizing. We have seen the numbers of union members decrease. Without union solidarity, we have seen diminished economic growth and low workplace productivity.

This trend is changing. Public approval of unions is surging. Employees throughout our country are working to organize their workplaces, from coffee shops to warehouse stores. Union membership is growing, wages are increasing, and worker’s health has improved through better benefits and a safe work environment.

Illinois will be the first state to vote to bring this change to their constitution. It’s hoped that passing this amendment will attract people to the workforce and to our state by encouraging the migration of residents who want to work and live where there is stability, respect, and dignity. Higher paying, quality jobs will contribute to a strong economy.

I hope my state will serve as a model for other states in protecting the rights of workers, growing our middle class, and putting people’s needs upfront over the interests of big business. Keep watch on November 8 for the results of this groundbreaking legislation.

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dave pomeroy

Respect Yourself by Protecting Your Intellectual Property

As technology and the music industry evolve, so must we. It can be hard to look ahead while you are trying to make the present happen, but it is essential to try. How a musician makes a living these days can be very different than in the past. Rather than having one main gig, many of us are reliant on multiple small revenue streams that hopefully add up to a living wage.

This precarious formula practically demands that you do all you can to maximize your income in every way possible. Getting paid more than once for your work is the true meaning of intellectual property rights. When you work without a contract, or worse yet, sign your rights away with a work-for-hire document, you are forfeiting those rights forever.

When you are recording a new project for yourself or someone else, the importance of putting it on an AFM agreement should be obvious. Unfortunately, too many lead artists and side musicians ignore the reality that protecting your work opens the door for other revenue streams.

There are AFM agreements to fit virtually any scenario—Demo and Limited Pressing, Single Song Overdub, Low Budget Master, and more. If you are an artist, in addition to filing contracts for backing musicians, you need to register your recorded works with SoundExchange to receive revenue from digital radio play. If you are part of a co-op band, you can file a Joint Venture contract that documents the revenue split, and also file with SoundExchange.

Mailbox money is not just for songwriters; it can be found in various ways. Residual funds that pay musicians include:

1) The Sound Recording Special Payments Fund, which is essentially a bonus payment for every AFM master session you have done “on the card” over the past five years. This fund distributed nearly $8 million to musicians last month.

2) The AFM-SAG/AFTRA Fund has been a game changer for musicians who play on recordings that are broadcast on noninteractive digital satellite radio. This fund paid out $60 million to backing musicians and singers in its latest annual distribution.

3) The Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund, which pays residuals based on 1% of an AFM-covered film’s post-theater revenue, paid out $111 million in June 2022. This fund covers scripted television series as well, under the Television Film Agreement.

All of the above income sources can add up to significant money, but it’s up to you to take care of business in order to get what’s coming to you. It is always much easier and more effective to file the paperwork up front rather than chase it down later.

Now, more than ever, you never know what independent artist, song, or film is going to go viral and become huge. This is the world we live in. You do not want to be left behind when the revenue streams start to flow.

Speaking of being left behind, the US is still one of a few countries that do not pay royalties to artists, backing musicians, singers, and record labels for the use of their work on AM/FM terrestrial radio. The other countries on this not-so-illustrious list include North Korea, China, and Iran.

For more than half a century, US terrestrial broadcasters have successfully advocated for these intellectual property rights to routinely be denied to everyone but songwriters and publishers. They even tried to brainwash songwriters into thinking that money paid to anyone else would be coming out of songwriters’ pockets.

The American Music Fairness Act (AMFA), currently before Congress, is the solution to this longstanding injustice. It finally gives us the AM/FM rights that 99% of the world already has. It includes language ensuring that any money paid will not come out of other parties’ money. It also takes into account the difference between huge corporate broadcasters and independent and community stations, which are given extremely reasonable rates. We hope to get the AMFA through Congress, so please reach out to your representatives and let them know you support this long overdue legislation.

As I have explained many times over the years, AFM agreements protect employers as well as musicians. Any legitimate licensing and sync company knows we are empowered to collect money due musicians. Then, the artist and label can keep their license fee with a clear conscience, rather than play hide and seek with the players who deserve something for the use of their work.

Believe it or not, the music business can still be a win-win, but only if everyone involved does the right thing. Document your work for all time using an AFM contract. It’s more than worth the effort in the long run. You won’t regret it.

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