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Home » Music Business » RMA: Musicians Continue to Fight for Fair Share

RMA: Musicians Continue to Fight for Fair Share


by Christopher Anderson-Bazzoli, President of RMA Los Angeles and Sidney Hopson, RMALA Executive Board Member

In the three years since we ratified our last film and TV contracts, studio streaming platforms have continued to ramp up, while musicians’ livelihoods have ramped down. In 2019, “new media” made up 14% of the film and tv contracts at AFM Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA). That number has since shot up to 59%!

The tectonic shift we’ve feared is happening before our eyes; residual payments musicians have depended on for over 50 years are getting devoured by the latest revolution in media consumption. The reason is simple: projects produced to debut on streaming services under the TV-Film New Media side letter will not yield any meaningful residuals. (This differs from theatrical motion pictures or network TV projects that, when “moved over” to a streaming platform, generate a secondary market residual.)
It’s crucial that we read the writing on the wall, organize, and take action.

Singers, actors, writers, and others have all won fair compensation from film and TV producers. As a result of their efforts, the industry standard residual is a fixed re-use amount paid through the locals. This means a whole new source of work dues, pension contributions, and other benefits. A fair streaming residual would be transformational for the financial health of our union and support our musicians, locals, and the AFM at large.

Many of you will remember that winning a new streaming residual was front and center in our Band Together campaign (2019). While we won several important victories in those negotiations, the fight continues for the residual we need for a secure living. That’s why we launched the Fair Share for Musicians campaign.

Because now and always—musicians deserve their fair share.

Last March, a bi-coastal coalition of film and TV musicians formed a contract action team (CAT) with weekly meetings held via Zoom to organize and strategize. The team established robust committees to grow our education, messaging, research, and proposal development capacities. We successfully gathered hundreds of signatures on a petition to be delivered to the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) expressing our need to be treated in parity with our sister unions.

In May, the Recording Musicians Association (RMA) published a column in the International Musician outlining the goals and stakes of the nascent campaign. (“As Industry Shifts to Streaming, RMA Fights for Fair Compensation” by Marc Sazer.)

The article also reaffirmed the importance of the smooth administration of pre-existing agreements, the urgency of contract compliance and transparency, and our continual need to prevent film studios from abusing US film tax credits by offshoring American jobs.

On August 14, the CAT presented all available current data on streaming to the Local 47 membership and discussed how a new fixed residual won by singers (as members of SAG-AFTRA) compares to current AFM base pay and residuals for the same work.

To be certain, the campaign has more than just financial implications—how we organize and fight for streaming residuals will demonstrate our union’s collective will and capacity to unite across lines of artistic discipline, genre, income, race, gender, and geography. Moreover, our dedication to securing and expanding fair pay is central to our commitment to the social mobility and prosperity of our increasingly diverse workforce.

The RMA stands for the economic and creative rights of all who work. In the face of unbridled and ever-expanding corporate interests, leveraging the contracts musicians deserve requires grassroots activism from every corner of our community, industry, the labor movement, and consumers. In that spirit, we aspire for the committees and actions launched under the Fair Share for Musicians campaign to model and provide support for all AFM members and player conferences in their pursuit of a dignified, prosperous living.

Please support this cause and sign the petition at:

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