Tag Archives: afm president

afm pension fund

Status Report—AFM Pension Fund

If you’ve been following the status of the American Federation of Musicians and Employers’ Pension Fund (AFM-EPF), you know it has been facing severe funding problems since the Great Recession, despite earning relatively good investment returns since then and receiving a significant contribution increase. As detailed more below, however, these have not been enough to “right the ship.” As a result, the trustees are preparing for a critical and declining certification in the spring and an application to the Treasury Department under the 2014 federal law known as “MPRA” for approval to reduce benefits to the extent necessary to remain solvent for the next 30 years.

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afm-fim conference

AFM-FIM Conference: Musicians Are Entitled to a Fair Share of the Streaming Pie

In recent years, the rise of streaming as the preferred model of digital distribution and consumption has radically transformed the media marketplace. Worldwide, digital revenues and audiences have accelerated toward both advertiser-supported and subscription-based consumption models, benefiting digital service providers, copyright owners and producers, and other stakeholders. If current trends hold, the number of paid music subscribers worldwide will rise from more than 149 million today to 200 million by the end of this year.

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respecttheband

Networks Feel Street Heat at Negotiations

The Federation resumed its discussions with the television industry in July, at ABC headquarters in New York City, for a successor agreement covering musicians who perform on late night and prime time variety shows such as Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, and The Voice, and on award shows such as the Grammy Awards and the Oscars.

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Negotiations

Negotiations Roundup—A Capsule View of Talks in Progress

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

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mptf advantage

The MPTF Advantage: Employment, Audience Building, Recognition

The Federation’s recently concluded Sound Recording Labor Agreement (SRLA) has brought new life to both the Sound Recording Special Payments Fund (SPF) and the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF), which are important residual components of that agreement. As music consumption transitioned to streaming, both funds experienced declining revenue due to the precipitous drop in royalties from physical recorded product (CDs, etc.) and digital downloads, which had been the sole sources of revenue for the funds. 

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big radio

Media Talks Driven by Streaming Growth, Part 2

This is the second of two articles on the continued rise of streaming and its effect on Federation media industry negotiations. Read the first here

Last month, we discussed the Federation’s January 2017 deal with the sound recording industry, where major record labels agreed to earmark a percentage of domestic and foreign streaming revenue toward the American Federation of Musicians & Employers’ Pension Fund (AFM-EPF), Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF), and the Sound Recording Special Payments Fund (SPF). We also discussed the skyrocketing growth of streaming revenue from recorded music, which now accounts for 62% of total record industry income.

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big radio

Unallocated Contributions Support Each Participant’s Pension

Note: Fund updates appearing in this column are not applicable to the AFM’s Canadian pension fund, known since August 2010 as Musicians Pension Fund of Canada. 

To improve its funded status and restore its health over the long term, the American Federation of Musicians and Employers’ Pension Fund (Fund) needs additional employer contributions as well as good investment returns. For the plan year that ended March 31, 2017, higher employer contributions and strong investment performance kept the Fund out of critical and declining status for the plan year that began April 1, 2017. Whether the Fund can stay out of critical and declining status in the future will depend in part on income each year from employer contributions and investment returns.

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Streaming Funds Pension, Residuals in New Label Deal

I am pleased to report that agreement has been reached with the recording industry for a successor Sound Recording Labor Agreement (SRLA). When ratified, the agreement will extend three years, from February 1, 2017 to January 31, 2020.

Besides significant gains in upfront payments—including yearly 3% wage increases, and improvements in pension contributions, health & welfare payments, and cartage payments—the agreement provides for significant additional payments to the Sound Recording Special Payments Fund (SPF), the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF), and AFM & Employers’ Pension Fund (AFM-EPF) driven by the companies’ digital streaming revenue.

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Staff Additions — SSD Director, West Coast In-house Counsel

I am delighted to announce two important changes to Federation staff—one in our Symphonic Services Division (SSD) located in our headquarters office in Times Square, filling a vacancy left by the election of former Director Jay Blumenthal to the position of AFM Secretary-Treasurer, and another in our Electronic Media Services Division (EMSD) at the Federation’s West Coast Office in Hollywood. The staffing changes have resulted in the addition of two of the best minds and finest lawyers to be found in the field of union-side labor relations. They are Rochelle Skolnick and Russell Naymark.

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AFM, Media Convergence and Performance Rights, Part 5

Below, in the fifth and final part of our series, we examine the growth of streaming and the potential to drive new money to MPTF, SPF, and AFM-EPW.

Revenue from Music Streaming Continues to Grow

From the early 2000s to date, with consumption racing toward streaming and away from physical sales and analog broadcasting, royalty collections from streaming have grown from a trickle to a flood. SoundExchange, the US collective for record labels and featured artists, is now the biggest rights management organization in the world. SoundExchange has collected and distributed more than $3 billion since 2003 and will top $1 billion this year. In 2016, the AFM & SAG-AFTRA Fund will distribute to musicians and vocalists more than $50 million derived primarily from streaming royalties paid by satellite radio and webcasters like Pandora and SiriusXM.

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