On June 27, more than 100 professional musicians who work in film and television held a press conference and delivered stacks of petition signatures to the entertainment industry’s major producers demanding a fair contract, including residuals, for new media.
Musicians marched to the front doors of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers to hand-deliver hundreds of petitions signed by musicians who work in the industry, where studio representatives denied them entrance. “They are in this building and they are willing to deny us behind closed doors, but they will not do it in the open,” said musician and organizing committee member Jason Poss. “They will receive these petitions, even though they don’t want to receive them today. This is a victory. We have shown what is going on and they cannot hide from us any longer. This is just the beginning.”
The ability of musicians to earn a living wage in the film industry is in jeopardy with the transition to digital consumption. Studios have agreed to pay residuals for actors, writers, directors, and others when films and television shows are made for streaming, but management insists on excluding musicians by denying them standard wage scales for new media projects and refusing to pay new media residuals.
“We are calling on film and television producers to protect the livelihoods of musicians by fairly compensating us for our work,” Poss said. “All we ask is to be held to the same standards as other entertainment industry professionals.”
The rally and press conference included musicians, a live brass quintet, and allies from United Teachers Los Angeles, Writers Guild of America West, and SAG-AFTRA. “Many of Los Angeles’s teachers are also professional musicians, and almost every musician is a teacher for someone,” said Juan Ramirez, vice president of UTLA. “United Teachers Los Angeles stands together with the professional musicians in demanding that musicians working on streaming and new media projects receive fair pay and residuals.”
“We writers know that music is a crucial element in bringing our stories to life,” said Angelina Burnett, television writer/producer and board member of WGA West. “Musicians make invaluable contributions to our film and television projects, whether they’re made for traditional outlets or streaming services. The Writers Guild of America West stands together with musicians to demand fair pay and respect for their work.”
“All 160,000 members of SAG-AFTRA stand united with you for good pay and fair working conditions,” said Jane Austin, SAG-AFTRA national secretary-treasurer and president of their Los Angeles chapter. “It’s not new media; it’s now media. And it’s time that they start paying. We’re all artists and performers, and it doesn’t matter if we’re in front of the camera, behind the mic or playing an instrument. We all deserve fair compensation regardless of what platform on which our work is being displayed.”
American Federation of Musicians members from Los Angeles to Nashville to New York continue to strengthen a national member-led campaign as they approach the next round of negotiations scheduled for November.