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.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE AFM

President’s Message

AFMPresidentRayHairW

Ray Hair – AFM International President

    Coronavirus Update

    As of the date of this writing, March 21, the entertainment industry throughout the world, with few exceptions, has been shut down. Today, emergency governmental stay-at-home orders have been issued in New York, Connecticut, Illinois, and California, affecting 75 million Americans. A national emergency declaration issued on March 13 placed severe restrictions on public and private gatherings, effectively eliminating audiences; canceling concerts and shows for every symphonic, opera, and ballet orchestra in the US and Canada; shutting down festival performances; and closing live venues of every size. Thousands of gigs that otherwise would have been performed were wiped out. TV networks ended all live television production except news. All other media production has been postponed.

    Broadway, Las Vegas casinos, and every other showroom, right down to neighborhood restaurants and bars, are dark. Touring theatrical productions have either closed or shut down pending an all-clear signal for audience gatherings. The threat to the entertainment industry across North America and worldwide, to the business it creates and musicians it employs, could stretch beyond these immediate days and have disastrous consequences for months or years to come. As the disease began its spread here, your union took immediate action to safeguard our staff, provide advice and counsel to our locals and our members, while negotiating with signatory employers to preserve and protect employment, extend health benefits, and return touring musicians safely to their homes.

    Federation offices—in New York, DC, Toronto, and Los Angeles—are located in the current epicenters of COVID-19 infections. We got ahead of the situation on March 12, implementing work-from-home plans for most staff, and staggering hours for essential staff in all Federation offices, which were eventually shuttered due to additional emergency orders.

    Federation staff has risen to the occasion, working around the clock to design and implement new streaming provisions for use to keep live performances alive, to preserve employment. Legislative Director Alfonso Pollard and I have been in direct contact with Congress to push for immediate relief for members who have borne the brunt of these shutdowns. We will not rest until we achieve this goal.

    I’m dedicating the balance of my column space this month to accommodate special coverage of the Federation’s response to the crisis. As the outbreak continues, I will communicate frequently via Federation-wide email blasts. Please stay safe. My prayers are with each of you.

    To view the article on this month's special coverage on COVID-19, click here.

    Read More

    Pension Benefit Reduction Plan Explained

    As many of you
    know, on December
    30, 2019, the AFM-EPF Trustees filed an application to reduce benefits under
    the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act (MPRA). The decision was reached after the
    trustees had engaged in more than two years of difficult discussions. The
    reductions are projected to allow the Fund to avoid insolvency and preserve a
    meaningful benefit for Fund participants and their beneficiaries. Far more
    drastic benefit reductions would result if the Fund were to become insolvent.

    More
    work is needed in order to strengthen the Fund, particularly by bargaining
    improvements in employer contributions into the Fund, as the Federation has
    done over the past several years, and by earning good investment returns, as we
    have since the 2008-2009 financial crisis—an average annual return of nearly
    9%. But the benefit increases that were adopted repeatedly through the 1990s
    and other generous benefit features provided by the Fund have ultimately proven
    unaffordable after the 2001 dot-com bubble burst and the 2008-2009 financial
    crisis. This has left us no alternative but to reduce benefits in order to keep
    the Fund solvent for future generations of participants.

    The MPRA application is a very long and complex document, running over 1,500 pages. You can review it on the US Treasury website at www.treasury.gov/services/Pages/American-Federation-Of-Musicians-And-Employers-Pension-Fund.aspx, but in this month’s column, I will summarize the main features of the proposed benefit reductions and answer some questions we have received from a number of participants.

    There
    are three underlying principles in our proposed reduction plan: level the
    playing field, protect the $1 multiplier, and minimize benefit reductions as
    much as possible.

    Removing the Subsidies and Other Costly Features

    The
    first principle involves leveling the playing field by reducing costly benefits
    and features of the plan that are richer than the regular pension benefit
    payable at age 65. These include the early retirement subsidy and certain other
    generous plan features that the trustees considered to have the same effect as
    subsidies. The trustees decided that the fairest way to distribute the
    reductions was first to eliminate the subsidies and other costly features that
    are not applicable to all participants. That allowed us to minimize the
    reductions to multipliers other than the $1 multiplier, which we decided to
    protect, without any reduction.

    As
    we have informed participants, the flat percentage cut to the multipliers above
    $1 was 15.5%. If we had not removed the early retirement subsidy (which only
    those who started to collect before June 2010 have been eligible to receive),
    the flat percentage cut for multipliers above $1 would have been 17.3% instead
    of 15.5%. Since the regular pension benefit—the age 65 benefit—is the Fund’s
    core promise, we determined that it was fair to protect that to the maximum
    extent possible.

    There
    have been lots of questions about the early retirement subsidy. An early
    retirement benefit is “subsidized” if it is not reduced as low as the actuarial
    equivalent amount that would cost the plan the same as the regular pension
    benefit payable at age 65 over the expected lifetime of a participant. Because
    the benefit begins earlier, it is payable for a longer period of time and, over
    thousands of participants, the costs quickly become significant. And, because
    the money is being paid earlier, the Fund cannot earn investment income for
    those years prior to normal retirement age.

    For
    Benefit Period A (through 12/31/2003) at age 55, the multiplier was $2.33 for
    retirements before June 2010, while the unsubsidized multiplier that went into
    effect for retirements on and after June 1, 2010 was only $1.70. The $2.33
    multiplier is subsidized because it is 37% higher than the $1.70 multiplier.
    This means that the early retirees who started collecting before June 2010 are
    receiving more than the actuarial value of their age-65 benefit.

    Like
    many other Taft-Hartley funds, the AFM-EPF has offered a subsidized early
    retirement benefit since at least 1972. However, the Fund can no longer afford
    this subsidy. The trustees also determined it would be unfair to continue this
    subsidy for those who are receiving it and who retired before June 2010 because
    it was already taken away from everyone else, even those who worked prior to
    2003 while the subsidy was in effect, if they did not retire before June 2010.
    Moreover, those who will lose their early retirement subsidy by the 2021
    effective date of the change if the application is approved will have already
    received the subsidized early retirement benefit for 10 years, and in some
    cases many more years. The Fund is not taking back that “excess” value. The
    trustees are very aware that this change, as well as other changes described
    below, will adversely affect the retirement benefits for a number of
    participants, but we believe that eliminating subsidies is the most equitable
    way to distribute the benefit reductions.

    The
    proposed reduction plan also removes certain other generous, subsidy-like
    benefit features in order to reduce benefit costs, help preserve the $1
    multiplier, and minimize the flat percentage reduction. The two most prevalent
    and expensive are the re-retirement benefit and the re-determination benefit.

    The
    re-retirement benefit is the additional benefit participants earn if they
    retire before age 65 and then return to work. It is a very unusual benefit for
    a pension plan. Under existing rules, when such a retiree reaches age 65, the
    total benefit is recalculated as if the individual were first retiring at age 65,
    using the age-65 multiplier for all benefits. That amount is then reduced to
    reflect the early retirement benefits actually paid to the person during the
    years before age 65. The existing methodology produces an increased benefit
    that is like a subsidy because it provides a larger re-retirement benefit when
    compared to the benefit based solely on the new contributions earned during
    post-retirement employment.

    If
    the proposed MPRA application is approved, re-retirement benefits would be
    calculated based only on the contributions earned after the early retirement
    pension begins, until age 65. For virtually all musicians not yet in pay
    status, the re-retirement benefit for service in and after June 2010 will use
    the $1 multiplier for contributions credited after the person’s early
    retirement through age 65, which amount will be added to the amount of the
    early retirement benefit, and adjusted for the forms of benefit selected.

    Another
    costly benefit that would be modified if the application is approved is the
    re-determination benefit. The re-determination benefit is the additional
    benefit that a musician earns by working in covered employment after age 65 and
    after starting to collect a pension. Currently, the re-determination benefit is
    based on contributions received in the prior calendar year, reduced by the
    value of all re-determination benefits received in the year before that. Many
    pension plans do not permit participants to receive pension benefits while also
    earning additional pension credit. Under the proposed MPRA suspension,
    participants will still be able to return to work after age 65 while receiving
    their pensions, but their re-determination benefits will be offset by the total
    amount of all benefits already received from the Fund, rather than just the
    re-determination benefits in the year before. If the application is approved,
    current re-determination benefits will be reduced to $0, and re-determination
    benefits after January 1, 2021 will likely not result in any additional
    accruals.

    Protecting the $1 Multiplier

    The
    trustees concluded that the fairest way to design the proposed reduction plan
    was to protect the $1 multiplier from any reduction. We believe this is of
    paramount importance in order to maintain Fund support from active participants—those
    who are still employed and earning contributions but not yet retired. We know
    that the $1 multiplier, which has been in effect since 2010, is not a rich
    benefit. But it can provide a meaningful benefit payable over a lifetime
    starting at age 65. We also know that further reductions to this already
    reduced amount would jeopardize not only ongoing contributions, but also
    increases to contributions, which are critically important to the Fund.
    Eliminating the subsidies and the costly features that are effective subsidies
    helped us maintain this basic benefit.

    Minimizing the Flat Percentage Reduction

    After
    eliminating the subsidies, the central feature of the proposal is a flat 15.5%
    reduction to all multipliers other than the $1 multiplier. Each of the higher,
    pre-2010 multipliers would be reduced by 15.5%, although various statutory
    protections apply to different participants, resulting in either no reductions
    for some participants or reductions for many that amounted to less than 15.5%
    in total.

    Benefit
    estimate statements were mailed to all participants on January 6. These
    statements provide participants with current and estimated future reduced
    benefits, if the MPRA application is approved and plan reductions become
    effective. We know that the information included on the statements does not
    provide the detailed calculation of your estimate. If you wish to receive a
    statement that will include all calculation details, you can call the Fund
    office at 212-284-1311 and request a detailed statement. When your detailed
    statement is available, it will be posted to the benefit estimate icon in the
    registered participant’s portal on the plan’s website. You will be advised by
    email that it is available or you can request a copy to be sent in the mail to
    you. Fund representatives will walk you through it and help you understand the
    detailed calculations.

    Removing
    the subsidies is painful, and will be difficult for many participants, but the
    regular pension benefit, that is, contributions from the $1 multiplier payable
    at age 65, is the core promise of the Fund. We believe it would be unfair to
    reduce that benefit or to reduce the other multipliers even more in order to
    maintain the early retirement subsidy and other costly features that the Fund
    can no longer afford.

    No Easy Choices

    The trustees agonized over decisions that we knew would affect the lives and families of thousands of participants, and we struggled over how to make those decisions in a fair and equitable manner. The trustees capped the MPRA reduction so that, even with the elimination of the subsidies, no individual benefit would be reduced more than 40%, and, as it turned out, the cap applied to only 0.35% of participants. The law provides protection for participants who receive smaller benefits, for disability pensions, and for people who are over 75 years of age.

    The vast majority of the plan’s participants had either no reduction or a smaller than 20% reduction.

    Here
    is a breakdown of numbers of participants and percentage of benefit reductions:
    The total number of Fund participants is 50,782. Of that number, 27,099 either
    earned all their credit at the $1 multiplier or were protected by law and
    received no benefit reduction. This meant that the money to address the
    problem of fund sustainability had to come from the remaining 23,683
    participants. Of those, 11,483 received a reduction of 0%-9%; 11,270
    received a reduction of 10%-19%; 374 received a reduction of 20%-29%; 376
    received a reduction of 30%-39%; and 180 participants received a reduction of
    40%. 

    Finally,
    given the choice of preserving the Fund or letting it become insolvent, the
    trustees chose to propose a benefit reduction plan that adjusts benefits in the
    fairest way possible under the circumstances to allow the Fund to continue to
    serve past, current, and new participants into the foreseeable future.

    Read More

    Build Audiences with MPTF— Musicians Will Beat a Path to Your Door

    As previously reported, new streaming and licensing
    revenue from the sound recording industry via the Federation’s 2017 Sound
    Recording Labor Agreement (SRLA), has infused new money into the AFM-EP Fund
    and has revitalized both the Sound Recording Special Payments Fund (SPF) and
    the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF). MPTF, throughout its more than 70-year
    history, has worked closely with officers and staff of AFM locals to co-sponsor
    thousands of live, admission-free musical performances each year throughout the
    United States and Canada.

    MPTF was nearly out of money in 2016 and was forced
    to plan for the unwinding of its operations and the eventual cessation of
    business, pending the outcome of our negotiations with the labels. The problem
    was the changing trends in music consumption. From its inception in 1944 in
    settlement of a strike with the record labels, MPTF revenue was derived from a
    small royalty on sales of physical product, such as vinyl records, cassette
    tapes, and compact discs. Today, with 90% of label revenue attributable to
    streaming, MPTF and SPF would be out of business without streaming royalties to
    replace and reverse the decline in revenue from physical product.

    Here is the good news: By the March 31, 2020 close
    of its current fiscal year, MPTF will have provided over $1 million in
    co-sponsorship funding during that 12-month period, compared to less than
    $500,000 in funding during the 2016 period. MPTF Trustee Dan Beck has advised
    that the April 2020 funding allocations will continue to rise due to the growth
    of streaming revenue.

    The favorable developments concerning future MPTF
    funding underscore the need for locals and their members to work together to
    develop popular, successful performance programs that will benefit your
    community and generate new employment. Dynamic and diverse programs will build
    appreciative audiences, and promote recognition for MPTF, the Federation, our
    locals and our members year after year. A great local MPTF program works
    wonders for membership recruitment and retention.

    Legendary jazz drummer and University of North Texas Professor of Music Ed Soph leads an MPTF project performance in Denton, Texas, at the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival. He was accompanied by UNT jazz faculty colleagues Mike Steinel, trumpet, and Rosana Eckert, vocals. All are members of Local 72-147 (Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas).

    A well-rounded local MPTF program is built by
    fostering a variety of constructive, enduring relationships with producers of
    admission-free public events and with schedulers of entertainment for
    institutional purposes, such as hospitals and assisted living centers. Local
    community-based institutions, arts and civic organizations, neighborhood
    associations and entities that manage entertainment events and recreational
    programs for city parks, indoor and outdoor shopping malls, and suburban town squares,
    are always on the lookout for dependable partners that can provide first-rate
    talent for events that will promote goodwill for their venues.

    How can you identify potential MPTF co-sponsors in
    your area? Your local city, county, and state arts councils are a good place to
    start. Arts councils, many funded in part by the National Endowment for the
    Arts, provide foundational support for community-based arts organizations,
    including some that may offer admission-free programs of professional musical performances.

    A big buzzword in the arts council world is
    “collaboration.” The prospect of access to MPTF funding could encourage arts
    council officials to promote partnerships with locals and community affiliates
    for the presentation of public musical performances.

    Visit with your area shopping malls, neighborhood
    associations, shop owner “main street” associations, and city parks and
    recreation departments. Invariably, there is someone employed by those
    organizations to create free entertainment programs for the enjoyment of
    patrons and citizens of their communities. Find out who selects the musical
    offerings for those programs and contact them to pitch the obvious benefit of
    MPTF co-funding and local union talent. Any program coordinator juggling an
    entertainment budget will listen intently when it dawns on them that not only
    can you deliver first-rate talent, you’ll also help them pay for it.

    Another area of interest is the promotion of
    MPTF-funded programs of musical performances by professional musicians in
    public schools. A programming opportunity may arise if an established ensemble
    of professional musicians seeks to partner with a public school system to
    present concerts for elementary, middle school, and high school students in the
    public schools. MPTF can help where public school budgets have limited or no
    money for such programs and, particularly, where music department directors and
    school superintendents understand the educational benefit of enabling students
    to see and hear musical performances presented by outstanding professional
    musicians. In-school concerts by suburban symphony orchestras, jazz ensembles
    and big bands, and other musical styles are another creative way to introduce
    the community to the advantages of MPTF co-sponsorship.

    Community leaders are always seeking recognition.
    They receive it by sponsoring and promoting public events where families can
    come together and enjoy good music in a community setting—the park, the town
    square, the mall, the neighborhood, the school auditorium. Not only do we
    perform the music, but, through MPTF, we can help our communities afford it.

    Go out into your communities and look for opportunities to
    apply the MPTF advantage. Build a balanced performance program by establishing
    productive institutional, community-based, and business-related partnerships to
    bring fine musical performances to an appreciative public. Build a program that
    builds audiences, and every musician in town—and your community—will beat a
    path to your door.

    Legendary jazz drummer and University of North Texas
    Professor of Music Ed Soph leads an MPTF project performance in Denton,
    Texas, at the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival. He was accompanied by UNT jazz
    faculty colleagues Mike Steinel, trumpet, and Rosana Eckert, vocals. All are members
    of Local 72-147 (Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas).

    Read More

    Agreement Reached with Motion Picture-TV Film Producers

    I am pleased to report that on November 22, after weeks of intense negotiations beginning in March of this year and continuing in October and November, an agreement was reached with major Hollywood-based film producers and their Television Film counterparts. The agreement extends the existing Theatrical and Television Motion Picture Film Agreements for two years with successive yearly 3% wage increases and other significant contract improvements, subject to ratification vote by eligible musicians.

    The two-year agreement makes significant progress in key areas. First, the terms and conditions of employment applicable to musicians employed on high budget subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) programs will no longer be freely negotiable. Rather, the terms and conditions in the TV Film Agreement will apply, except that paragraph 62 of the agreement (providing a discount for the first 25 episodes of a series) will not apply to high-budget SVOD productions. Second, the producers have agreed to include screen credits for musicians on theatrical motion pictures and on high-budget SVOD programs that are 96 minutes or more in length. In addition, royalty payments to musicians for paid permanent downloads, now worth about $2.5 million per year, will be increased by 50%.

    Although we were unable to attain our primary goal of realizing a meaningful residual on content made for initial exhibition on advertiser-supported streaming (AVOD) and SVOD platforms, the Federation is committed to continuing our pressure campaign toward the producers during the ensuing two-year contract interval after ratification, which I have referred to as a short-term “truce.” In my view, there will not be true labor peace between the Federation and the producers until a made-for-streaming residual is accomplished.

    The Negotiating Atmosphere

    In April of 2019, after meeting with the studios in March and experiencing their overwhelming inflexibility and intransigence—in effect, a refusal to negotiate—over fair residual compensation on content made for initial exhibition on streaming platforms, the Federation committed resources to hire organizers and also research personnel to partner with musicians in the television and film workplace to develop a campaign of concerted activity for improved contract compensation and working conditions, particularly where content is scored for streaming platforms. Soon thereafter, the #BandTogether campaign was launched, a member-driven program of action-oriented mobilizations designed to bring musicians’ issues to the public, to the studios, and their executives. Please see additional information about the campaign at www.bandtogetherafm.com.

    BandTogether had a measurable impact on industry’s attitude towards these negotiations. Numerous demonstrations by musicians in Los Angeles, Nashville, and New York brought the campaign directly and literally to the producers’ doors. The level and intensity of rank and file engagement led producers to understand that they could not continue to impose concessions and refuse to address the concerns of the Federation, its locals, and its members against the backdrop of rapidly changing patterns in audiovisual consumption that were creating immense economic advantages for the producers, and distinct disadvantages for musicians and their families. The studios realized they had to make substantive counter-proposals across the table, on the record, that would address musicians’ well-articulated needs and priorities, in order to achieve even this short-term truce and achieve an agreement that would ratify.

    Terms and Conditions for High Budget SVOD

    Under the new agreement, all terms and conditions of the TV Film Agreement will apply to original and derivative dramatic programs made for initial exhibition on subscription streaming platforms when such programs meet the following budget thresholds: a) $1.3 million for a 20-35 minute program; b) $2.5 million for a 36-65 minute program; and c) $3 million for a program 66 minutes or longer. Formerly, the producers were permitted to freely negotiate wages and conditions of streaming production projects with musicians directly, which sometimes led to the imposition of conditions of employment that were below those considered to be industry standard, and thus unacceptable.

    Screen Credits on Theatrical Motion Pictures and Certain High Budget SVOD Programs

    For the first time in history, producers have agreed to accord screen credits to musicians employed in the scoring of theatrical motion pictures, and also for high budget SVOD productions of 96 minutes in length or more, with a budget over $30 million ($45 million for animated SVOD programs). With the proliferation of screen credits over the past four decades, and with credit given to practically everyone associated with a production except the musicians who perform the score, requiring the inclusion of scoring musicians in the credit roll of a production was one of the Federation’s top priorities.

    The producers introduced a number of onerous proposals, many of which they tried and failed to achieve in the last negotiating season, that the Federation rejected and that the producers eventually withdrew.

    I want to take this opportunity to offer my sincerest thanks to the many talented musicians who volunteered their time and energy on behalf of their colleagues to engage in concerted #BandTogether campaign activities, which made a real difference during these negotiations: members of the International Executive Board – International Vice President and Portland, Oregon Local 99 President Bruce Fife, Vice President From Canada Alan Willaert, Federation Secretary-Treasurer Jay Blumenthal, Executive Officer and Los Angeles Local 47 President John Acosta, Executive Officer and Nashville Local 257 President Dave Pomeroy; Recording Musicians Association International President Marc Sazer and rank and file representative Don Foster, who, together with local union officers and representatives from across the Federation, spent countless hours working to identify, articulate, and prioritize workplace issues in advance of and during the negotiations.

    I would like to especially thank the small group we put together at the conclusion of negotiations—Local 47 Vice President Rick Baptist, IEB member Dave Pomeroy, RMA President Marc Sazer, and rank and file musician Jason Poss, who was such an immense help to his colleagues and to me personally during the course of the negotiations and in the organizing campaign. The concerted activities of our talented members were guided by an outstanding and committed team of organizers, led by Federation Organizing and Education Director Michael Manley, and which included Federation Lead Organizer Alex Weisendanger, Local 47 Organizer Jefferson Kemper, and other Local 47 officers and staff.

    We had the benefit of superb legal representation from Federation in-house counsel Jennifer Garner and Russ Naymark, and outside counsel Susan Davis of Cohen, Weiss and Simon. Lastly, my thanks go to Electronic Media Services Division Director Pat Varriale, Assistant EMSD Director John Painting, contract administrator Matt Allen, Local 47 EMSD Director Roxanne Castillo, Federation Communications Director Rose Ryan, and all the other hardworking Federation and Local 47 officers and staff for their invaluable contributions throughout the process.

    We will reconvene our negotiations with the Hollywood studios in the fall of 2021. In the meantime, we will continue our campaign of concerted activity in support of our demand for fair residual compensation for made-for-streaming programs, and for fairness in every other Federation agreement.

    Read More

    Negotiations Roundup – A View of Talks in Progress

    The Federation’s negotiations with its bargaining partners in the US and Canada, whether on an industry-wide, single- or multi-employer basis, are a never-ending process. Other than contracts with touring theatrical producers such as the Broadway League, most of our negotiations are with producers and distributors of media content when musicians are engaged to perform electronic media services, whether streamed, broadcast live, or captured for analog or digital distribution.

    Our purpose is to improve the wages and conditions, health benefit and
    pension contributions when we create the content exploited by the producers. We
    also negotiate for additional compensation when content is re-played or re-used
    in domestic and foreign analog markets, and when content is distributed
    digitally by subscription video on-demand (SVOD) or advertiser-based video
    on-demand services (AVOD).

    Our program of collective bargaining and contract enforcement is
    aggressive, and is accompanied by a member-driven program of concerted
    activity, led by the Federation’s organizing department with assistance from
    locals and also with financial support authorized by the International
    Executive Board.

    The Federation’s emphasis
    in all of its media negotiations is streaming, and the potential of digital
    distribution to provide new money for musicians whose services are embodied in
    streaming content, and also for our residual and benefit funds. Media
    consumption has transitioned away from traditional physical products 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 negotiations and talks in progress:

    Motion Picture TV
    Film.
    Film and TV musicians are engaged in a heated campaign toward the
    studios to obtain and improve industry-standard wages, conditions, and residual
    payments when content is made for streaming. The Federation and the Alliance of
    Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) have operated under a contract
    extension (with annual wage increases) following the April 5, 2018 expiration
    of the predecessor agreement.

    As major film and
    television studios prepare to launch their own streaming platforms, they are
    refusing to bargain a fair deal for the musicians who work for them. Musicians
    have traditionally received a small portion of secondary-market revenue from
    the films and TV shows they work on, along with actors, writers, and directors.
    But, in the production of content made 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 when discussions reconvene on November 20 (which will occur after this issue of the IM goes to print). Please visit www.bandtogetherafm.org for the most up-to-date information on our members’ campaign for fairness in the making of content for original streaming productions.

    Commercial Announcements (Jingles). The production agreement between the Federation and the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies is set to expire on March 31, 2020. The existing agreement, negotiated in June 2014, achieved significant increases in pay and pension benefits for exhibition of online commercial announcements. However, we expect that discussions next year toward a successor agreement will necessarily focus on an uptick in the licensing of pre-existing tracks by advertisers and their agencies, which has resulted in a reduction in the production and use of new, original recordings for jingle content.

    Live Television. 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 five rounds of formal negotiations and additional
    informal meetings spanning three years, the networks have finally begun to
    address the Federation’s proposals covering streamed distribution of program
    content.

    Intense concerted
    activity by musicians working in the TV and film scoring workplace, in an
    effort to achieve fairness on streaming issues, helped open the door toward
    more realistic conversations with the producers and networks on those issues.
    Our next round of negotiations with the networks will occur early next year.

    Pamphlet B
    Agreement.
    The Federation’s “Pamphlet B” agreement is negotiated with
    the New York City-based Broadway League and establishes wages and conditions of
    employment for musicians working on the road in touring theatrical musical
    productions. The contract is administered by the Federation’s Touring and
    Booking Division headed by my assistant, Tino Gagliardi, and will expire March
    15, 2020.

    Historically, Pamphlet B
    provisions cover only musicians traveling with the show. It does not set wages
    and conditions for local musicians who are engaged to augment or replace
    traveling musicians in the cities and jurisdictions where the shows are eventually
    booked. But beginning in 1992, provisions in the contract were modified and
    implemented to allow producers to restrict and reduce the allocation of work
    between local musicians and touring musicians previously governed by local
    collective bargaining agreements.

    The tension in the distribution of touring employment and
    attempts by producers to avoid hiring local musicians will again figure
    prominently in our discussions. As the Federation prepares for Pamphlet B
    negotiations, we will meet with stakeholders to help identify, articulate, and
    prioritize our members’ needs and develop plans of action to address those
    needs.

    Read More




NEWS