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


President’s Message


Ray Hair – AFM International President

    Born of Common Purpose, Our Vision Still Stands

    October marks the 125th Anniversary of the American Federation of Musicians. This column describes the founding of the AFM, introducing a special anniversary supplement included in this issue of the International Musician. I hope you enjoy this historic look back at the beginning years of our union.

    It was October 1896, 125 years ago. Musicians from locals affiliated with the National League of Musicians and from other musicians’ locals directly affiliated with the American Federation of Labor met in Indianapolis, Indiana, to build the union of their dreams.

    The 1890s were a dangerous time for unions. The idea of bringing workers together from across a country or continent to meet and discuss broad workplace goals throughout an entire industry did not sit well with employers of musicians, or with any other employers for that matter. Unions were reeling under pressure. Lives and families were at risk.

    In Chicago, the 1886 Haymarket Riot over the eight-hour workday left 11 people dead. Bosses would tell unions to accept steep pay cuts in exchange for recognition. And when that didn’t happen, there were lockouts and riots. Soldiers escorted scab replacement workers into the workplace. The courts sided with employers against union leaders, ensuring that unions would be broken.

    It was an enormous power struggle, with business owners saying that every worker should have the right to deal directly with the employer rather than be represented by a union. Sound familiar? It should. We hear the same song sung today, 125 years later.

    The company bosses called it “worker freedom.” And I’ll repeat the refrain from back in the day when our union was born: “worker freedom” is nothing more than the “right to work for as long a time and for as little money as the employers can impose.”

    It was against this background of fear, uncertainty, instability, and great risk that musicians traveled considerable distances to meet in Indianapolis to find ways to improve the lives of musicians everywhere. They didn’t do this because they were consumed by petty differences with each other. They did it because they believed that by working together, they could save lives.

    They believed that musicians deserve dignity and respect for what we do—for our high level of skill and creativity, for our level of professionalism, and for the joy we bring to this world. Our founders came together because they believed in fairness, and because they understood that we are STRONGER TOGETHER. They believed by working together as a team, we could offer hope to those seeking refuge from the perils of life as a musician.

    Today, 125 years later, that vision of common purpose still stands in our locals, at our conferences, at our international conventions, and out there in Federationland. We know there is far more to gain in unity than from division.

    What did musicians face when they sought to form their local and national unions more than 125 years ago?

    The first musicians’ unions organized locally and independently, primarily in the eastern US in places such as New York City, Boston, Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, and St. Louis. Baltimore and Chicago had musicians’ unions as early as 1857.

    Fierce labor conflict was prevalent in the US industrial workplace until the 1930s. A great deal of blood was spilled to eventually obtain the statutory right to bargain collectively with employers through the Wagner Act, adopted by the Congress in 1935.

    Because workers’ efforts to improve wages and conditions were looked upon unfavorably by powerful social and political forces and the moneyed business interests behind them, local unions disguised themselves as social clubs or burial societies to present a benign face to business. Locals assessed membership dues and earmarked a portion of it for a death or burial benefit. Some AFM locals today still carry the words “Benevolent Association” or “Protective Society” in their trade names—a throwback to the early days of unionism when overt activism toward employers was fraught with certain risk.

    Since it was illegal until the mid-1930s to engage in concerted activity to pressure employers to raise wages, the early locals from the 1870s onward focused primarily on improving the social status of musicians. An issue that developed among the locals concerned whether musicians’ unions should determine membership eligibility by audition—by how well a musician could play—or whether to admit anyone who worked, or intended to work, as a musician.

    The issue of artist vs. laborer, elite vs. common, and proficient vs. ordinary mushroomed into a debate over the choice of whether to admit only the most talented individuals into the union or to allow into the fold any person who would compete for members’ employment. This is still an ongoing debate: Why ask everybody to join? Do we organize everyone? Or just the best?

    From 1871 to 1881, 17 independent musicians’ locals organized into a group called the National Musicians Association. They were mainly concerned with difficulties caused by traveling musicians and road show competition. The organization failed, however, because the locals were weak. They were loose-knit groups of musicians who would come together and discuss issues while never really agreeing upon plans of action to develop or implement.

    Later, the National League of Musicians (NLM) was formed and operated from 1886 to 1904. There were 15 independent NLM locals in 1887. That number increased to 79 by 1896. The big concern continued to be the debate of whether musicians were artists or workers.

    The voting system of the time was another contentious issue. With one vote per member, the big eastern locals controlled the NLM because they had the most members.

    In early 1896, Samuel Gompers asked the National League of Musicians to affiliate with the American Federation of Labor (AFL). The AFL had formed in 1886 from a coalition of craft unions that had become disenchanted with another national labor organization, the Knights of Labor (KoL). The KoL opened its doors to all workers, skilled and unskilled, except for doctors, lawyers, bankers, liquor dealers, and gamblers.

    Despite its claims of inclusiveness, the KoL made little headway toward organizing predominately Catholic Irish-Americans, reportedly due to the influence of Freemasonry. Catholics were prohibited from associating with masonic organizations. Gompers and the AFL offered an alternative by organizing along the jurisdictions of the early craft guilds. Gompers was looking to establish a “room in labor’s house” for professional musicians.

    Gompers, however, could not get the NLM to go along with him. Unlike the NLM, the AFL promoted organizing and the all-in labor union approach towards craft workers, which included musicians. The NLM, led by proponents of the elitist ideology, was not interested in the AFL’s philosophy of let’s organize and unite everyone who works or wants to work for money.

    The AFL organizers reasoned that an elitist approach toward unionism would eventually create a cadre of willing and able non-union replacement workers that would be used by employers to divide, disunify, and destroy the union. By working to involve and represent the entire workforce of a given craft, the AFL believed the opportunity existed for each craft to deal with employers on an industrywide basis to improve wages and conditions.

    Gompers, undeterred by elitist dogma, dealt with the NLM’s stubborn opposition by bypassing the organization’s leadership and instead chartering its locals directly as AFL-affiliated musicians’ locals.

    The first AFM convention, called and organized by Gompers, was held in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1896. Seventeen of the 26 AFL-chartered locals in attendance were also locals of the NLM. This demonstrated a startling show of interest from NLM locals that had urged the NLM to join with the AFL but were prevented from doing so.

    The current president of AFM Local 3 (Indianapolis, IN), Marty Hodapp, tells the story that at the AFM’s 1896 inaugural convention, the local delegates from Cincinnati and St. Louis tossed a coin to settle a contest over which local would be charted first. Cincinnati won the toss, becoming Local 1, while St. Louis became Local 2.

    Owen Miller, a musician from Europe, was elected as the first AFM president and began to charter new AFM locals, alongside those still entrenched in the old NLM. In May 1901, after President Miller had served for nearly five years, Joe Weber was elected the AFM’s second president at the AFM’s 5th convention and served until 1940.

    The NLM disbanded at its 1904 convention and the Musical Mutual Protective Union of New York, the flagship NLM local, dissolved and merged with one of the other 15 New York City musicians’ unions, all independent except for one—AFM Local 41. The AFM chartered the merged local as Local 310, Manhattan.

    As we celebrate our storied 125 year history, we see that the historical and fundamental challenges our founders faced in unifying professional musicians to establish, preserve, protect, and defend this great union are much the same as they are today. Now, as then, we heartily accept these challenges, and we will spare no effort to improve the lives of professional musicians everywhere.

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    Broadway Is Back on the Road

    by Ray Hair, AFM International President

    I am pleased to report that the Federation has completed negotiations with the Broadway League and Disney Theatrical Productions for an extension to the Pamphlet B Touring Theatrical Musicals and Short Engagement Touring (SET) Agreements and for a comprehensive Health and Safety Manual (“Safety Manual”) applicable to all musicians performing under those agreements. The predecessor Pamphlet B and SET agreements expired of their own terms on March 15, 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic erupted worldwide, effectively shutting down the entire live entertainment industry, including 23 touring Pamphlet B and SET productions.

    League producers restarted touring musical productions in Dallas on August 3 with Wicked. Touring productions of Hamilton resumed soon thereafter in Atlanta and San Francisco. Additional Broadway tours are scheduled to either open or resume touring itineraries in the fall, with bookings set through 2022.

    The extension agreement applies and extends all terms of the expired predecessor Pamphlet B and SET agreements. It was concluded as a prelude to more difficult and comprehensive negotiations over the Safety Manual, which contains protocols necessary to minimize the risk of the virus and deal with the prevention of COVID-19 while on tour. The Federation and the League have agreed that the prevalence and incidence of COVID-19 and efforts to prevent and transmit it will be continually assessed for adequacy based on the changing nature of COVID-19 and its variants. You can view the Safety Manual in its entirety at

    The Federation and the League also recognize that the Safety Manual may require adjustments to protocols based on new knowledge about the virus. If changes are necessary, they may occur with prior notice and negotiations between the League and the Federation, and if needed, on an individual show or location basis.

    Several key improvements were eventually achieved (over provisions the League initially proposed) for musicians working on the road:

    • Portable HEPA air filtration is required in the orchestra pit.
    • Additional compensation is required for any mandated health and safety training or education.
    • A stipend of $250 is required if a musician must travel away from home to undergo a COVID test on a day when not working for a producer.
    • If a musician is required to quarantine, all hotel expenses, reasonable food delivery expenses, and per diem will be paid by the producer.
    • If the tour moves to the next location before quarantine is concluded, the musician will be reimbursed for ground transportation to/from the plane/automobile transporting musician to next tour location.
    • Musicians will receive up to eight extra sick days for quarantine or isolation related to COVID.

    The League, its bargaining partners, and producers proposed, and the Federation subsequently agreed, that all members of any touring company (including musicians) are required to be “fully vaccinated.” Fully vaccinated means the employee received an FDA authorized or WHO authorized vaccine, and more than 14 days have elapsed following the final dose of the vaccine. Proof of vaccination must be provided no later than the first rehearsal of a production.

    Members of a tour who cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccination because of a qualifying disability or a sincerely held religious belief must contact the employer to request an accommodation.

    We believe the extension and Safety Manual are affirmatively good results, extending the expired provisions of the Pamphlet B and Short Engagement Theatrical Tours Agreement and implementing achievable protocols and guidelines for musicians’ care and protection via the manual. All of this was gained without sacrificing economic benefits and working conditions bargained over the Federation’s long history of negotiations with the League, its bargaining partners, and producers.

    We owe a huge debt of thanks to AFM Touring, Theater, and Booking Division Director Tino Gagliardi and Associate Director George Fiddler for their unparalleled industry experience, focused advice, and superb ability to keep touring musicians’ issues at hand and in mind during these negotiations. Similarly, the contributions provided by Theater Musicians Association President Tony D’Amico, together with superb rank-and-file representation from players Elaine Davidson of Local 72-147 (Dallas-Ft. Worth) and Susan French of Local 802 (New York City), both veterans of decades of roadwork, kept our negotiating team focused on the real needs and lives of musicians performing with the shows.

    Thanks are also due for the hard work, dedication, and perseverance of the entire negotiating team, including AFM International Vice President Bruce Fife, AFM Vice President from Canada Alan Willaert, AFM Secretary-Treasurer Jay Blumenthal, Local 9-535 (Boston, MA) President Pat Hollenbeck and Secretary-Treasurer Mark Pinto, AFM IEB Member and Local 10-208 (Chicago, IL) President Terry Jares, Local 6 (San Francisco, CA) President Kale Cummings, Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) President Stefanie O’Keefe and Vice President Rick Baptist, Local 72-147 President Stewart Williams, AFM IEB Member and Local 161-710 (Washington, DC) President Ed Malaga, and Local 2-197 (St. Louis, MO) Secretary Vicki Smolik. Finally, I wish to thank Federation Counsel Russ Naymark and Jennifer Garner for their legal expertise, insight, and assistance at all stages of negotiations.

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    The Reopening: Anxiety, Excitement, Uncertainty

    It’s been 17 months since the COVID pandemic brought live entertainment to a screeching halt around the world. Emergency government regulations, mask mandates, and social distancing regimens are being relaxed in the US, but conditions are still in flux. Canada is only now beginning to ease lockdown restrictions. One of the longest indoor-dining bans in the world was imposed in Toronto—lasting over a year.

    Enough data is in to suggest that America is in its early stages of recovery from the pandemic. Canada is in its very early stages. The live entertainment industry is beginning to emerge from lockdown and from the unprecedented job loss suffered by professional musicians.

    The effects are still weighing on us. The struggle to return to some semblance of where we were before will continue for years to come. Still, nearly a year and a half into the pandemic, despite the lifting of COVID restrictions across the US, the World Health Organization continues to recommend wearing masks indoors, and new variants are spreading.

    There is no playbook for ending the pandemic and eliminating all risk in the reopening of performance venues, so that we can reconnect with live audiences, and just as importantly, with each other. There are no quick and easy solutions to the enormous problems the pandemic has created.

    Going forward, you’ll see a worldwide effort to write that playbook in real time. The Federation is part of that effort, working with our colleagues from other arts and entertainment unions. We will also work hard to ease restrictions on cross-border immigration for our Canadian members. We are working with the entire US labor movement to lobby for progressive changes in labor laws. We will certainly need better labor law protection as pandemic-induced employer attitudes drive increased automation and job elimination.

    The pandemic has left 7 million people unemployed, and lots of kinks in our economic system—like the appearance of a labor shortage where there shouldn’t be. We have unemployment and labor shortages at the same time. The economy is trying to restart after experiencing the deepest recession in generations. Parts of the economy are severely broken.

    There are major shortages in semi-conductors that are idling auto manufacturing (down 17%). There are unbelievable difficulties in the parts supply chain. Tesla had over 10,000 cars on hold at its Fremont, California, plant that couldn’t be delivered to customers due to parts shortages.

    There are supply crunches in raw materials. The explosion in demand for building materials, which is now beginning to ease, sent prices for lumber up 340% from a year ago and steel prices up 300%. The cost of packaging materials, like plastics and paper, have been driven up 50% since the start of the pandemic. Less retail, less wastepaper, together with more e-commerce, has tightened supply and increased demand for paper. Plastic material costs are at multi-year highs. Logistical problems include shipping container bottlenecks and a lack of shipping containers, creating an astronomical rise in freight costs.

    There are three important points to make here:

    • As the economy tries to restart, we face major shortages in everything—raw materials, parts and components, and labor shortages (at a time of high unemployment).
    • Scarcities and supply line disruptions are preventing the economy from rebounding to its full potential, and will affect the speed at which the economy recovers.
    • There is worry that high demand for scarce materials may result in an inflationary spike that could depress wages.

    In response to the crisis, governments of the US, Canada, and around the world adopted monetary policies in phases. First, they have lowered interest rates to near zero to stabilize financial markets and ensure the flow of credit. Second, fiscal measures in the form of supplemental unemployment benefits and business subsidies entailed the printing of trillions of dollars of new money, distributed to sustain the economy against the background of governmental quarantines and social distancing measures. Third, policies were implemented to develop and distribute vaccines.

    Due to the enormous and unprecedented amounts of monetary stimulus pumped into the economy last year, financial markets recovered from the losses experienced in March and April 2020, launching an economic recovery that is booming, bouncing along, and struggling to gain equilibrium.

    And with the acceleration of vaccine development and distribution, a way out of this health crisis looks more and more visible. The risk level has come down, and many folks are looking to get back out this summer and fall to kick it out. And there is a huge supply of stimulus money to help light that fire.

    It looks like the public is evolving back to a degree of openness, but there is conflict in that. We have lots of folks who are still worried, whose behavior hasn’t shifted, and who haven’t changed their precautions since January. We are making progress, but there is still a lot of confusion.

    You can feel the vibe that we are not out of the woods yet. And the regulations and health guidance change every day. As people process that, we see hesitation and inconsistent behavior. This will affect the consumption of live entertainment and subsequent employment.

    I think we are confronting a lot of the same uncertainty we felt at the beginning of this crisis. We are experiencing the end. It will take longer than we think, probably be messy, and continue to produce worry. It will also be exciting, as we head back to work.

    For more than a year, the public has been starved for live entertainment and live music. As in other industries, the pandemic effect has created a shortage. And like other parts of the economy, there exists pent up demand. There is a thirst to hear and be entertained by great live musical performances. We are about to quench that thirst.

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    Riding the Third Rails: Making the Case at WIPO for Performer Streaming Remuneration

    This month, my guest columnist is Texas attorney Chris Castle, who works on a variety of matters in the nexus of music, technology, and policy. His most recent public policy study for the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) addresses the systemic economic unfairness proffered by Spotify, Apple Music, and other interactive streaming platforms toward musicians.

    Riding the Third Rails: Making the Case at WIPO for Performer Streaming Remuneration, by Chris Castle

    Law out of balance is no law at all. This is most apparent with streaming compensation to musicians and vocalists, the people who make the records. Everyone is getting rich except them, and there’s a good reason for that phenomenon: the contractual royalty system is designed that way. It doesn’t matter if the result was intentional, the effects are so profound.

    Rather than fixing the vast number of licenses, the better solution is to bring balance to the law. Leverage the existing international Collective Management Organizations (CMOs), like SoundExchange and AFM & SAG-AFTRA Fund, to collect a new remuneration payment from streaming platforms. CMOs already have payment relationships with featured and nonfeatured performers.

    The new payment is fair because it recognizes the uncompensated benefits these performers confer on streaming platforms through their labor. And it appears to be the only way to break free from the clutches of the “market centric” or “big pool” contractual royalty systems that the parties will resist changing.

    Thanks to the support of the American Federation of Musicians and the International Federation of Musicians (FIM), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) commissioned a policy study on this subject for consideration by WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights that I co-authored with the noted economist Professor Claudio Feijoo. (The study is available here: WIPO has never before commissioned a study on the economic effects of streaming on performers, and I think we should all be appreciative of WIPO’s response.

    After reviewing the status quo and a number of possible solutions, we determined that the best solution is what we call “streaming remuneration.”

    It is up to the member states of WIPO to consider this call for balance and fairness. I am hopeful. It is in the interest of the member states to protect their local cultures and performers from the homogenized dominance of Spotify and Apple Music. It is in the interest of the platforms to get ahead of the scathing criticism of their economics.

    We saw this both at Parliamentary inquiries in the UK and with the recent letter to the UK Prime Minister from the Rolling Stones and others quoting our WIPO study and calling for government action on streaming royalties. It is, of course, also in the interest of the record companies to find ways to counterbalance the harmful effects of the “market centric” model on the performers upon whom they depend.

    Like a subway that runs only on third rails, streaming remuneration accomplishes many of these goals. Streaming remuneration is an additive payment solely for performers. Like other CMO payments, it is outside of record royalties for featured artists or session payments for nonfeatured performers. It does not expand the compulsory licenses. It may not be offset against or reduce contractual payments from streaming platforms to record companies.

    Streaming remuneration helps to solve the unsustainable nature of the “big pool” royalty formula at the heart of each streaming license that results in the notoriously low per-stream payments.

    The big pool formula, in its most basic form, is based on these calculations for each monthly accounting period (Tn):

    Monthly Service Revenue during T1 ÷ Total Streams in T1= per-stream rate in T1

    Per stream rate in T1 x Your Streams in T1 = Your Royalty at T1

    And algebraically, can also be expressed as this value for T1:

    Monthly Service Revenue x [Your Streams ÷ Total Streams] = Your Royalty

    Over time, consider that, if the rate of increase in Monthly Service Revenue from one month (T1) to the next (T2) is less than the rate of increase in the Total Streams, the value of Your Royalty (sometimes called “stream share”) will always trend downwards over time (Tn).

    Given that “Total Streams” is a function of the total number of recordings available on the service, which increases at a rate of 60,000 a day, according to recent reports, the number of streams payable to any one artist (“Your Streams”) will never increase as much as the “Total Streams” for all artists. The streaming platforms (especially Spotify) have traded off price increases for global growth, thus sealing the tomb.

    Who benefits? While owners of large numbers of copyrights can aggregate the “Your Streams” total, the real beneficiaries of the entire system are the streaming platforms that have driven their way to billions in market capitalization, monetized in the public markets. And that is why Spotify CEO Daniel Ek is buying the Arsenal football club and you are not.

    But realize that both fans and other featured artists also are harmed by this model. Fans are harmed because they believe that their subscriptions are paid to the artists they listen to. As you can see from the formula, only the tiniest sliver of revenue goes to the local or niche artist played by the fan. The lion’s share of that revenue goes to the aggregators of recordings, and at that, is claimed mostly by Anglo-American repertoire.

    If you are a local artist, a classical performer, a legacy or jazz artist, your fans are paying for music they don’t listen to, by artists they might never choose to play. And the artists who are paid the majority of revenues don’t even know it’s happening and probably don’t want another performer’s revenue.

    The “user centric” model attempts to true up the monies earned with the artists played and sidestep the “big pool” altogether. While “user centric” has a lot of interest and promise, we did not feel that it accomplishes the goal of putting money directly in the pockets of performers, as nonfeatured performers have been left out of the user centric discussions. That may change, but we did not embrace the model.

    It must also be said that streaming remuneration is further justified because personalized “enterprise playlists” created by platforms through algorithms increasingly replace radio without paying the same performer royalties as radio.

    After considering the status quo and the third rails, we concluded that streaming remuneration, like payments already made by the platforms in Spain and Hungary, would be the best solution to the streaming crisis. Performers would at least indirectly be compensated for their value transfer in market capitalization to the streaming platforms, which has been left out of the equation.

    A systemic problem cries out for a systemic solution and streaming remuneration helps to bring the law back into balance. We appreciate the opportunity WIPO gave us to make that case and the support of the AFM and FIM in making that case to WIPO.

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    Broadway Tour Discussions Begin as Pandemic Recedes

    More than a year after the COVID outbreak prompted the lockdown of global population centers, halting public gatherings, darkening entertainment venues of all sizes, locking out musicians and performers, and eliminating thousands upon thousands of jobs, wheels are now in motion for the reopening of the live entertainment industry and a mid-summer return for concerts, festivals, and Broadway touring productions.

    The advent of a return to the road for Broadway touring shows is a welcome development for musicians who travel with the tours and for local musicians who augment the productions in certain locations where the shows are booked.

    Last year, during the week of March 15, 2020, a total of 23 AFM-covered touring productions were suspended—shutdown on the road—as a result of the raging spread of coronavirus and government imposed social distancing regimens. The Federation negotiated a shutdown agreement with the Broadway League that provided for cancellation payments and necessary expenses for musicians to return home.

    We are now preparing to bargain a successor Pamphlet B and Short Engagement Tours Agreement that will cover musicians who become engaged as the tours resume. It will also impact local employment at certain venues along the tour. AFM touring agreements are administered by our Touring, Theatre, Booking Division, managed and supervised by Director Tino Gagliardi and Associate Director George Fiddler.

    Discussions with League representatives during the pandemic shutdown concerning a timeline for a return to the road varied with each conversation. Estimates ranged from late 2020 to early 2021, then late 2021 to early 2022, but were never certain due to the alarming spread of infection, the severity of the disease, and changing expectations for relaxation of social distancing.

    The current planned ramp-up for a comeback of Broadway tours coincides with an accelerated vaccination rollout and congressional stimulus money, spurring confidence in a more rapid pandemic recovery and improved economic outlook. Optimism from these developments has prompted performance venues to plan for a return of indoor, full-capacity productions. Regional arts centers want Broadway tours to resume as soon as possible, pointing to the tours as being critical to their recovery.

    With vaccines available by mid-May to everyone, regardless of age, producers and venues hope that a safe return to full venue capacity can happen soon thereafter, pending any major problem caused by COVID variants. Arts center managers are indicating that a return to profitability cannot be accomplished unless they can sell 100% of the house. With profits from food and beverage sales still curtailed by pandemic regulations, selling only 80% of the house may not be enough.

    Optimism that the resumption of tours can succeed is based on audience retention of pre-COVID tickets. Reportedly, a large percentage of ticket holders did not request a refund on tickets to canceled performances, holding on to their prepandemic tickets to use for rescheduled shows. Venues and presenters see the retention and volume of presold tickets as a sign that substantial consumer demand exists for the return of shows.

    In April, theatrical presenters across the country were selling subscription packages and single tickets for 20 Broadway touring productions, some with engagements advertised as early as mid-June. An eight-show subscription series package pitched to theatergoers by a Dallas venue opens with a resumption of the Wicked tour on August 4, for five weeks, followed by touring productions of Hamilton, Hadestown, Frozen, Jersey Boys, Mean Girls, Oklahoma, and Jesus Christ Superstar.

    In the Dallas package, the promoter has restricted its single ticket sales. Admission to the most popular shows, such as Wicked and Hamilton, is available only by purchasing a subscription package that includes access to a bundle of other shows. Popular shows are in control of the venues, with promoters using the hit shows to sell tickets to those that are less popular.

    While tour producers, venues, and managers believe that demand for Broadway tours is robust and has not diminished during the pandemic shutdown, promoters are wary of taking any kind of hit when reopening their businesses. Negative publicity—increased health risks from COVID variants or press coverage of pending labor disputes—could provide a reason for attendees to avoid the shows, interfering with a clean return to the venues and creating additional financial risk during precarious times.

    Despite the optimism from accelerated vaccine programs and economic stimulus, we might still be in limbo. The safety of our talented musicians who travel far from home, performing for diverse audiences, night after night, is of paramount importance. We are musicians. We do not produce the shows and we do not operate the venues. We will not assume the producer’s risk. But, as we all struggle to emerge and return to some sense of normalcy and security in our artistic lives and livelihoods, we realize that the day of absolute certainly may never arrive.

    When we meet the League for our Pamphlet B discussions, our negotiating team will include members of the International Executive Board, Division Director Tino Gagliardi, Associate Director George Fiddler, a representative from the Theatre Musicians Association (TMA) player conference­, led by TMA President Tony D’Amico of Local 9-535 (Boston, MA), together with the presidents of Local 5 (Detroit, MI), Local 6 (San Francisco, CA), Local 9-535, Local 10-208 (Chicago, IL), Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA), Local 72-147 (Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX), Local 149 (Toronto, ON), plus rank-and-file traveling musician representatives Susan French of Local 802 (New York City) and Elaine Davidson of Local 72-147.

    As the Federation prepares for these negotiations, our team will meet to identify, articulate, and prioritize our members’ needs and develop plans of action to address those needs. To achieve our goals, we will compile and analyze necessary information. We will use every means at our disposal to focus, sharpen, and deploy union power.

    We will employ every pound of leverage we have to obtain a fair agreement, not only for those who perform in the orchestra pits, but in the interests of patrons and the public as well.

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