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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President’s Message

AFMPresidentRayHairW

Ray Hair – AFM International President

    Ground Zero, Subzero

    Note: As I am preparing this column for the October edition of the International Musician—today, September 11, 2022—America and the world pause on the 21st anniversary of the vicious attacks in New York City; Washington, DC; and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Reprinted below is an article I wrote for our local newsletter as president of Local 72-147 (Dallas-Fort Worth, TX) three weeks after the 9/11 attacks.

    My travel to New York City to attend the October 3, 2001, opening of the AFM’s Pamphlet B negotiations had assumed an entirely different demeanor in the aftermath of the September 11 attack.

    The plane from DFW to La Guardia, a Boeing 757, was only 25% full. During the usual pre-takeoff announcements, the flight attendant stated that “failure to comply with crew member instructions is a federal crime.” I had never heard that before. I wondered if the plane had a sky marshal, and if so, where that marshal might be.

    Three hours later, as the plane descended toward the city, we flew over the southeast corner of Manhattan and then Long Island. After recognizing the familiar outlines of the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, I looked to find ground zero from among the infinite jungle of skyscrapers, as did everyone else. We could not see it.

    On the ground at La Guardia, customer density mirrored that of DFW, as it was amazingly slow.

    I was one of only two passengers on the airport bus from La Guardia to the Port Authority terminal. Before the bus entered the Midtown Tunnel, we slowed for the “checkpoint” but avoided the long line of cars being searched. We proceeded on, arriving at 42nd Street after a short 15-minute ride from the airport. It definitely was not the city I remembered.

    I had clear and vivid memories of the city, particularly the Times Square and Midtown Manhattan areas, from numerous trips I had made over the years as an AFM officer. I remember the energy and the dynamic of the town. On my way from the hotel to Local 802 that afternoon, I could feel the change in vibe.

    There was an overwhelming sense of sadness. Walking past FDNY Ladder Company Number 54, located at 48th Street and 8th Avenue, a block away from Local 802, I was struck cold by the array of flower arrangements, cards, signs, photos, and other memorials left by a grieving public. Fourteen union firefighters from that firehouse alone had given their lives to save the thousands who escaped the twin towers.

    The executive board of Local 72-147 had convened on October 1, the night before, and resolved to donate $1,000 to Local 802’s relief fund to help members adversely affected by the tragedy. I met with the Local 802 board that afternoon and presented the donation.

    Broadway theater musicians, in concert with union actors and stagehands, had voluntarily reduced their salaries by 25% to keep the houses from going dark. Those reductions would last four weeks. Two shows, Blast and Rocky Horror Picture Show, had closed.

    “We were massacred,” said one musician, referring to the September 11 attack. I was beginning to understand the depth of the anger and depression that gripped the city, but it was not until I saw the remnants of the carnage itself that I was able to approach any sense or comprehension of the horror of it.

    Local 5 (Detroit, MI) President Gordon Stump and I decided to try to visit ground zero on Wednesday, October 3, after the conclusion of the opening day of negotiations. “Take us as far as you can to ground zero,” I told the cab driver. We proceeded south a good long way until I could see what would be the first checkpoint that marked the 12-block perimeter.

    Thick with US Marshals, State Police, and NYPD, the checkpoint stopped all traffic, letting through only residents, property owners, or employees. Gordon and I walked into a world that resembled an episode of The Outer Limits.

    No traffic, no noise, very little pedestrian activity, and people wearing masks to help them breathe. Others, who had obviously been working near the site, had breathing apparatus hanging around their necks.

    It was an eerie scene. After we walked another six blocks or so, we came upon another series of checkpoints across which we could not pass. From there, we stood in silence and looked down the final four blocks to ground zero.

    None of the photos or TV images could impart the graphic horror of the destruction that lay there. The debris mound from which the large cranes were removing smoldering rubble was several stories tall. The charred hull of one of the towers stood as a backdrop to the thousands of tons of wreckage. There, as we stood frozen and speechless, President Bush’s motorcade exited from a side street and sped away.

    We had been there about 15 minutes when I noticed that I had begun to cough. Gordon’s eyes were burning. The air was a mix of smoke and dust, with a noticeable odor of concrete.

    On the A train back to Times Square, I could overhear the residents talking with each other in snippets about the tragedy. Some discussed friends who were still missing, what they had done, and where they had been to help. People were doing what they could to deal with their personal losses. You could see in their eyes that they had been forever changed. You could also see and feel their spirit and determination to rise above the sorrow.

    That spirit and determination of the people of New York City is what I brought back from the opening meetings of our Pamphlet B negotiations, which would continue for quite some time. The employers had informed us that technology had recently become available that could almost perfectly replicate the sounds of an accompanying pit orchestra for the production of theatrical musicals. The Broadway League suggested that the technology could be used to break any impasse in the negotiations.

    “We don’t need you,” said the League employers, referring to our attempts to blunt their efforts to impose reduced orchestrations with fewer musicians in major markets. Their attitude was more than cold. More like subzero.

    Those employers, like the board of directors of The Dallas Opera, shamelessly used the events of September 11 to adopt a conservative economic stance toward professional musicians, who bring such joy into the world, and at a time when the public needed it the most.

    “We are all here because music has brought us here,” I told the employers on the third day of the Pamphlet B sessions, “and music is about man’s inhumanity to man. You have a responsibility to protect the livelihood of those of us who create it.”

    There are lessons to be learned from the resilient human spirit we see today in New York City, and that exists everywhere in this great country. Triumph over tragedy, victory in the face of adversity, have been recurrent themes since the first caveman whittled a songflute from the carcass of a dead antelope.

    Our music contains that spirit. It is what saves us.

    Despite such coldness, we will find that spirit, as we always do, as we confront the producers and employers in New York City and here at home in Dallas-Fort Worth.

    Read More

    Ground Zero, Subzero

    Note: As I am preparing this column for the October edition of the International Musician—today, September 11, 2022—America and the world pause on the 21st anniversary of the vicious attacks in New York City; Washington, DC; and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Reprinted below is an article I wrote for our local newsletter as president of Local 72-147 (Dallas-Fort Worth, TX) three weeks after the 9/11 attacks.

    My travel to New York City to attend the October 3, 2001, opening of the AFM’s Pamphlet B negotiations had assumed an entirely different demeanor in the aftermath of the September 11 attack.

    The plane from DFW to La Guardia, a Boeing 757, was only 25% full. During the usual pre-takeoff announcements, the flight attendant stated that “failure to comply with crew member instructions is a federal crime.” I had never heard that before. I wondered if the plane had a sky marshal, and if so, where that marshal might be.

    Three hours later, as the plane descended toward the city, we flew over the southeast corner of Manhattan and then Long Island. After recognizing the familiar outlines of the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, I looked to find ground zero from among the infinite jungle of skyscrapers, as did everyone else. We could not see it.

    On the ground at La Guardia, customer density mirrored that of DFW, as it was amazingly slow.

    I was one of only two passengers on the airport bus from La Guardia to the Port Authority terminal. Before the bus entered the Midtown Tunnel, we slowed for the “checkpoint” but avoided the long line of cars being searched. We proceeded on, arriving at 42nd Street after a short 15-minute ride from the airport. It definitely was not the city I remembered.

    I had clear and vivid memories of the city, particularly the Times Square and Midtown Manhattan areas, from numerous trips I had made over the years as an AFM officer. I remember the energy and the dynamic of the town. On my way from the hotel to Local 802 that afternoon, I could feel the change in vibe.

    There was an overwhelming sense of sadness. Walking past FDNY Ladder Company Number 54, located at 48th Street and 8th Avenue, a block away from Local 802, I was struck cold by the array of flower arrangements, cards, signs, photos, and other memorials left by a grieving public. Fourteen union firefighters from that firehouse alone had given their lives to save the thousands who escaped the twin towers.

    The executive board of Local 72-147 had convened on October 1, the night before, and resolved to donate $1,000 to Local 802’s relief fund to help members adversely affected by the tragedy. I met with the Local 802 board that afternoon and presented the donation.

    Broadway theater musicians, in concert with union actors and stagehands, had voluntarily reduced their salaries by 25% to keep the houses from going dark. Those reductions would last four weeks. Two shows, Blast and Rocky Horror Picture Show, had closed.

    “We were massacred,” said one musician, referring to the September 11 attack. I was beginning to understand the depth of the anger and depression that gripped the city, but it was not until I saw the remnants of the carnage itself that I was able to approach any sense or comprehension of the horror of it.

    Local 5 (Detroit, MI) President Gordon Stump and I decided to try to visit ground zero on Wednesday, October 3, after the conclusion of the opening day of negotiations. “Take us as far as you can to ground zero,” I told the cab driver. We proceeded south a good long way until I could see what would be the first checkpoint that marked the 12-block perimeter.

    Thick with US Marshals, State Police, and NYPD, the checkpoint stopped all traffic, letting through only residents, property owners, or employees. Gordon and I walked into a world that resembled an episode of The Outer Limits.

    No traffic, no noise, very little pedestrian activity, and people wearing masks to help them breathe. Others, who had obviously been working near the site, had breathing apparatus hanging around their necks.

    It was an eerie scene. After we walked another six blocks or so, we came upon another series of checkpoints across which we could not pass. From there, we stood in silence and looked down the final four blocks to ground zero.

    None of the photos or TV images could impart the graphic horror of the destruction that lay there. The debris mound from which the large cranes were removing smoldering rubble was several stories tall. The charred hull of one of the towers stood as a backdrop to the thousands of tons of wreckage. There, as we stood frozen and speechless, President Bush’s motorcade exited from a side street and sped away.

    We had been there about 15 minutes when I noticed that I had begun to cough. Gordon’s eyes were burning. The air was a mix of smoke and dust, with a noticeable odor of concrete.

    On the A train back to Times Square, I could overhear the residents talking with each other in snippets about the tragedy. Some discussed friends who were still missing, what they had done, and where they had been to help. People were doing what they could to deal with their personal losses. You could see in their eyes that they had been forever changed. You could also see and feel their spirit and determination to rise above the sorrow.

    That spirit and determination of the people of New York City is what I brought back from the opening meetings of our Pamphlet B negotiations, which would continue for quite some time. The employers had informed us that technology had recently become available that could almost perfectly replicate the sounds of an accompanying pit orchestra for the production of theatrical musicals. The Broadway League suggested that the technology could be used to break any impasse in the negotiations.

    “We don’t need you,” said the League employers, referring to our attempts to blunt their efforts to impose reduced orchestrations with fewer musicians in major markets. Their attitude was more than cold. More like subzero.

    Those employers, like the board of directors of The Dallas Opera, shamelessly used the events of September 11 to adopt a conservative economic stance toward professional musicians, who bring such joy into the world, and at a time when the public needed it the most.

    “We are all here because music has brought us here,” I told the employers on the third day of the Pamphlet B sessions, “and music is about man’s inhumanity to man. You have a responsibility to protect the livelihood of those of us who create it.”

    There are lessons to be learned from the resilient human spirit we see today in New York City, and that exists everywhere in this great country. Triumph over tragedy, victory in the face of adversity, have been recurrent themes since the first caveman whittled a songflute from the carcass of a dead antelope.

    Our music contains that spirit. It is what saves us.

    Despite such coldness, we will find that spirit, as we always do, as we confront the producers and employers in New York City and here at home in Dallas-Fort Worth.

    Read More

    Performance Rights and New Media Glossary of Terms

    This month I am providing a list of frequently used phrases and acronyms seen in print and heard in discussions involving new media and sound recording performance rights. This list consists of some terms that have evolved in the course of negotiations with media producers, relevant rights, legislation affecting music distribution and streaming, and finally performance rights organizations.

    New Media—Forms of media that rely on the internet for content distribution and consumption. In Federation media agreements, upfront payments to musicians embodied in the production of covered content that is made for new media (produced for release on web-based platforms, usually SVOD, such as Disney+, Amazon, Netflix) generally follow the existing scales of traditional media agreements. A residual payment is determined by whether covered content is “made for” or “moved over” from traditional media. When traditional linear content, such as a theatrical film, a TV film, or a linear live TV program or excerpt is licensed to web-based AVOD or SVOD platforms, it has been “moved over” from its primary market, such as a theater or broadcast television, for release on an internet streaming platform.

    User-Generated Content (UGC)—Also known as user-created content, refers to any content that embodies images, text, video, or audio posted by a user on an online advertiser-based platform such as YouTube, or on social media sites, such as Facebook.

    Interactive Streaming—An on-demand subscription-based platform where consumers may select and choose what song to listen to. Selections may be replayed, fast-forwarded, or skipped (hence interacting). Examples are Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play.

    Noninteractive Streaming—Digital audio transmitted via internet by a digital service provider (DSP) where the consumer is presented with a continuous audio stream but cannot choose what song is played next and cannot replay or skip content. Also known as satellite radio or web radio. Examples are SiriusXM, Pandora, and cable-operated music channels.

    AVOD (Advertiser-supported Video On-Demand)—Free to consumer video platform that requires the viewer to watch advertisements before and during the streaming of content. YouTube is the most popular AVOD platform.

    SVOD (Subscription-based Video On-Demand)—Subscription model where consumers are charged a periodic fee for unlimited access to a streaming platform library, without advertiser interruption. Examples include Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Peacock, Paramount+, Disney+, HBO Max.

    DSP (Digital Service Provider)—A digital distribution platform where streams of audio and/or video content are available, either on a subscription-based or advertiser-based free-to-consumer basis. Examples include Spotify, Pandora, Apple, Amazon, SiriusXM, Paramount+, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, YouTube.

    OTT (Over the Top)—Refers to streaming services where SVOD or AVOD platforms are available direct to consumers via internet, bypassing cable or satellite TV apparatus. Example: a consumer may subscribe to HBO Max with direct platform access via smart TV, smartphone, tablet, and PC, avoiding a cable box subscription.

    DPRA (Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995)—Amended the US Copyright Act of 1976 in response to music industry fears that web-based distribution of recorded content would eventually eliminate sales of physical products—compact discs, tapes, vinyl records. The law granted a performance right in a sound recording, limited to digital transmission. It also established a royalty payable to the copyright owners of a sound recording (usually the record label or producer), and to featured artists, session musicians, and singers.

    1) Noninteractive digital service providers (such as SiriusXM, free Pandora) would be required to pay a statutory per-stream license fee (now .0022–.0028) set by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) to SoundExchange, which distributes remuneration as follows: 50% to the copyright owner of the recording, 45% to the featured artist, and 5% to AFM & SAG-AFTRA Fund for further distribution to nonfeatured artists (session musicians and singers who performed the recording).
    2) Interactive digital service providers, such as Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, are required to negotiate a license fee directly with the copyright holder (record label or producer). Featured artists are paid according to their royalty artist contract with the label. Nonfeatured artists get nothing.

    DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998)—Heightened penalties for online copyright infringement and criminalized the circumvention of measures to prevent online piracy. In addition, DMCA limited the liability of DSPs, such as Facebook and YouTube, arising from copyright infringement by user postings of user-generated content.

    MMA (Music Modernization Act of 2018)—Sought to improve how royalties from music licensing would be paid to songwriters, composers, and publishers, and created an agency to administer a publisher database. It also corrected an oversight in the DRPA that failed to establish digital performance rights in sound recordings made prior to 1972.

    AMFA (American Music Fairness Act)—Now pending before Congress, would amend copyright law to apply existing digital performance rights to the terrestrial radio broadcast industry. If adopted, the legislation would require payment to copyright owners (usually the producer or record label), featured artists, session musicians, and singers whenever their sound recordings are broadcast by terrestrial AM/FM radio stations. The law would cover performances and US over-the-air radio broadcasts in much the same way that DPRA applies to satellite radio and webcasters.

    AFM & SAG-AFTRA Fund (www.afmsagaftrafund.org)—Collects and distributes performance right royalties established by US government statute under the DPRA and the MMA, and from various foreign countries, which provide for payment from digital media to nonfeatured performers—session musicians and vocalists.

    SoundExchange (www.soundexchange.com)—The largest collective rights management organization (CMO) in the world, SoundExchange is authorized and appointed by the US Congress to collect and distribute digital performance royalties from sound recordings.

    Read More

    MPTF: Unlimited Opportunities for Local Recruitment and Retention

    I was a 19-year-old college student when I first came in direct contact with the American Federation of Musicians.

    Of course, I’d heard about the musicians’ union and how it stood for good faith and fair dealing in the music business between musicians and unscrupulous employers, managers, and booking agents. As a young freelance musician, I had seen firsthand what the world was like, working weekends while I finished high school and began working my way through college. It was great fun playing the music, but sometimes was a hassle getting paid.

    At home and on the road, rocking along in the nightclubs, at civic auditoriums, fraternity houses, and doing one-nighters across the Deep South—Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and Georgia—as well as in Florida and Tennessee, there were times when the money was quite good. At other times, it was barely enough to afford to do the gig.

    One day, while a sophomore at the University of Southern Mississippi, I was asked to sub on an on-campus gig scheduled at the Methodist Youth Center. The other musicians were students and faculty. I was excited to have the opportunity to work with them. Before the engagement began, a gentleman who was well-acquainted with the other musicians, but not with me, passed around a green snap-out form for our signature.

    As he approached me with the green sheet, he asked, “Are you a union member?” That was another first, having never been asked that question before.

    “No, sir, I’m not, but I’m interested in becoming a union member,” I replied.

    His gaze softened and an attitude change became apparent as he placed the green sheet on my floor tom-tom and pointed toward a signature line. “Sign right there and fill in your name and mailing address so we can get you paid,” he said. I sensed there might be an opportunity to develop a productive relationship.

    “My name is Fritz Uher,” he continued. I am the secretary of Local 568 in Hattiesburg. This is what we call a Trust Fund [Music Performance Trust Fund] job. We will classify you as a student on the payroll form. Thanks for being here today. We are very interested in having you as a member.”

    I was impressed. It was the first time in my six short years as a freelance musician that I had ever seen a payroll sheet for a job, or a third-party paymaster who would issue a check by mail. It was organized, and it was obvious there was a larger organization—the musicians’ union—that appeared to have some authority over the process. Yes, I wanted to be the best musician I could be, but I also had a passion to understand the business of music. Musicians’ union? Trust Fund? Where did this money come from? How could I get more of it?

    This Trust Fund gig was a radical departure from the payday rule-of-thumb in those days, which was that you got paid in cash at the end of the gig, after packing up, as you were headed out the door. It also showed that there was another, seemingly “legitimate” side to the business of music making. I wanted to know more about it.

    A few months later, at the start of the summer break, I was asked to join a popular high-energy rhythm and blues band that was headed to Florida. The word came from the band’s manager that I needed a union card. An exclusive agency agreement was being signed with New York-based Associated Booking Corporation and I was instructed to immediately become a member of the American Federation of Musicians. Remembering my introduction to the union via the campus Trust Fund engagement, I managed to quickly schedule a visit with Uher. He managed Local 568 from his automotive body shop out on US Highway 49 toward Biloxi.

    After explaining my need to join the AFM right away, Fritz whipped out an application, which I filled out in a flash, anxiously awaiting his approval. “I’ll have to get this cleared by the local’s executive board, which should not be a problem,” he said. I learned that the local union board consisted of the head of the university’s instrumental music department and other faculty members and musicians with whom I had studied and performed. I was relieved, and happy that I was finally joining the union, and that I was among friends. On the road, I learned how necessary AFM membership could be.

    When I returned to college that fall, my union status opened the door to good union gigs. Those regional engagements became another source of income and networking, along with additional Trust Fund opportunities.

    Later, as I relocated to Texas to pursue graduate school and jazz studies at the University of North Texas, I joined Local 72 in Fort Worth and eventually Local 147 in Dallas. I was amazed how quickly I was called for a Trust Fund job—a jazz gig at a summer youth camp facility. I was even more amazed at the strong, diverse, locally administered Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) programs that provided needed employment and a pathway for developing new musical and personal connections with other great musicians.

    My introduction to the American Federation of Musicians came courtesy of the MPTF. For me, Trust Fund opportunities created new and lasting musical relationships, additional employment, and a broader network of contacts in the community of freelance musicians. Ask your local if it has a program of MPTF venues and co-sponsors and how you can get involved. For many musicians, MPTF could be the start of a beneficial association with the AFM.

    Read More

    Pamphlet B and Short Engagement Tour Agreements Ratified, Divisive Issues Remain

    by Ray Hair, AFM International President

    I am pleased to report that the Federation has completed discussions with representatives of the Broadway League and Disney Theatrical Productions for an extension of the Pamphlet B and Short Engagement Touring (SET) Theatrical Musicals agreement, which includes a 3% wage increase retroactive to April 25, 2022. The extension was promptly ratified and approved by musicians currently working under the agreements.

    All terms of the existing agreements are preserved and continued through August 2023. During the summer of 2023, the Federation will commence full negotiations with Disney Theatrical and the Broadway League for successor Pamphlet B and SET agreements.

    In addition to wage increases, producers had also recently agreed to an increase in weekly health benefit payments on behalf of each musician. For Local 802 (New York City) members, the weekly increase is payable to the Local 802 Health Benefits Plan. Musicians not affiliated with Local 802 will receive the weekly increase paid either directly as wages or to any other local union health plan designated by the musician.

    An updated Touring Health and Safety Manual containing protocols and guidelines for North American touring productions, based on preventative strategies from the CDC, WHO, OSHA, state and local departments of health, and medical and infectious disease specialists, is currently under discussion.

    An extended contract for Federation-covered touring musicals that contains progressive wage and health benefit provisions is a favorable result because no economic benefits or working conditions were compromised or conceded. But just as importantly, it buys time to build solidarity among all musicians—including those who are hired locally to augment the tours—in preparation for full negotiations with the producers one year from now. Solidarity is a critical ingredient, vital to the achievement of progressive results in collective bargaining.

    It will take time to develop a comprehensive action plan involving the Federation, our locals, local musicians, and touring musicians, if we are to effectively 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 by the producers to augment a given production based on the length of a local engagement.

    From time immemorial, Federation touring contracts enforced the promulgated house minimums unilaterally established by its locals for theatrical musical productions, requiring touring producers to hire local orchestras in numbers that met the local minimums. The producers were obligated to comply with local minimums, regardless of whether the minimums were collectively bargained.

    By 1992, the producers had bargained away any contract obligation to observe local minimums. The producers had also won the right to freely establish the total number of musicians they believed were needed for their productions, which would be determined by the score. Thereafter, only in locations where local collectively bargained venue agreements contained existing minimums as of 1992, would producers be obligated to hire local musicians for their touring productions, and then, only according to an allocation scheme that saw the length of the engagement determine the number of local musicians to be hired.

    Venue locations where the new 1992 Pamphlet B rules required local hiring included Dallas-Fort Worth, St. Louis, Toronto, San Francisco, Detroit, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC. No other locals could thereafter insist that touring producers hire local musicians. The rules remain in effect today.

    Here is a thumbnail sketch of Pamphlet B producers’ obligations regarding the hiring of local musicians:

    1) For a touring engagement of one week or less, the producers are not required to hire local musicians, despite any venue minimum.

    2) For engagements of more than one and up to six weeks, the producers can travel five musicians with the tour, with the remaining compliment filled by local hires as determined by the score.

    3) For engagements of more than six weeks, up to three musicians are permitted to travel with the tour, with local hires filling the remaining positions according to the score.

    The rules eliminated producers’ obligations to hire local musicians to augment the productions, except in applicable venues that existed in certain locals, and then, only with diminished opportunities. For local musicians, the result was a substantial loss of employment.

    In the short term, touring musicians gained additional jobs. And thus, the tensions arose between locals representing local musicians who saw their jobs eliminated, and the Federation with its obligation to fairly represent the touring musicians and seek improved wages and working conditions under Pamphlet B. The producers were the obvious winners, with fewer overall employment requirements.

    Despite it all, the tour producers quickly saw how to eliminate additional jobs of both local and touring musicians through scoring reductions. They used multiple keyboards and midi-sequencing to replace wind, brass, and string parts. More recently, Disney Theatrical has implemented advanced sound reproduction technology that can simulate and replace an entire orchestra, reportedly in a manner indistinguishable to the human ear from the real thing. It is currently in use on Broadway and in Disney roadshows, and it may eventually threaten the continued employment of all theatrical musicians, local and touring alike.

    And post-pandemic, we are seeing a proliferation of non-union tours, which we intend to remedy in concert with our sister unions, through joint organizing activities and legal action. These runaway rump tours are destroying good union jobs and lowering our employment standards. They must be stopped.

    We will need unity across the board if we are to fight the producers and win better economic terms and protections against further erosion of employment from reduced orchestrations, the use of electronic devices, and nonunion tours. We have a year to develop a plan to dovetail the interests of local musicians, touring musicians, our locals, and the Federation. We must focus our power. Without delay, we will work to develop an action plan that addresses these destructive, divisive issues.

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