As fall sets in, it brings the season of heavy negotiations. Currently, we are in the process of bargaining a new theater contract, also known as Pamphlet B. In order to stand up to the producers and secure better economic terms and protections against employment erosion, we need to remain united across the board. This includes fighting against reduced orchestrations, the use of electronic devices, nonunion tours, and loss of payments when content is made for streaming.
As Pamphlet B negotiations begin, I am committed to developing a comprehensive action plan involving the Federation, our locals, local musicians, and touring musicians to confront and resolve the “wedge” issues that were embedded in Pamphlet B during the early 1990s and that continue to cause workplace tensions today. Foremost among those issues is a system of regulating the number of local musicians employed to augment a given production that is based on the length of a local engagement.
I recently met with the Fair Share for Musicians steering committee in Los Angeles, along with AFM International Vice President Dave Pomeroy and Secretary-Treasurer Ken Shirk. AFM negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) are on the horizon. I am encouraged by our members who have come together to help lead the fight for better pay and working conditions, residual payments when content is made for streaming, and more diversity and inclusion.
As major film and television studios have shifted their content to their own streaming platforms, the AMPTP must come to the table and offer a fair deal for the creative professionals who work for them. Musicians have traditionally received a small portion of secondary-market revenue from the films and television shows they work on, along with actors, writers, and directors. But, in producing content for streaming, the major studios are excluding musicians from their fair share, effectively reducing musicians’ overall pay.
The existing AMPTP agreement covers sidelining, scoring, and music preparation services for theatrical motion pictures and films made for television, whether distributed traditionally or digitally. We will continue to address these concerns. In recent years, the rise of streaming as a preferred model of digital distribution and consumption has radically transformed the media marketplace. Worldwide, audiences have accelerated toward both advertiser-supported and subscription-based consumption models that benefit digital service providers, producers, and other stakeholders. The studios have refused to bargain progressive terms for musicians in streaming media to augment the existing residual provisions in traditional media.
The AFM is closely monitoring the growing conversation around artificial intelligence (AI). As representatives of creative musicians whose work is most affected by changes, we are actively participating in conferences, panel discussions, and testimonies to better understand the impact of generative AI on musicians. Recently, AFM Electronic Media Services Division Director John Painting represented musicians at a roundtable discussion hosted by the Federal Trade Commission (see article on page 9), and Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) Vice President Marc Sazer participated in “The Rules for AI” panel discussion, hosted by Digital Music News on October 25.
We are committed to fighting for the rights and well-being of our members and improving industry wages, working conditions, and residual payments when content is made for streaming. We are continuously strengthening our alliances with the leadership of WGA, SAG-AFTRA, Teamsters, and IATSE. It is essential to remember that there are few obstacles that can withstand the power of our music or the collective force of tens of thousands of musicians calling for fair and just employment conditions.
Black Orchestral Network (BON) Summit
Black Orchestral Network (BON) hosted the first BON Summit, October 21, in New York City. BON started with a mission to increase connections to one another, harness creativity, and develop initiatives that benefit Black musicians. The summit’s theme reflected community and solutions. Throughout the day, sessions provided opportunities for panelists and attendees to participate in the conversation.
AFM Director of Symphonic Services, Assistant to the President, and Special Counsel Rochelle Skolnick participated on a well-attended panel about contracting for diversity and fostering inclusion in CBAs, along with Local 802 (New York City) Financial Vice President Karen Fisher and Violist, Arts Administrator, and Educator Jennifer Arnold of Local 99 (Portland, OR).Read More