Tag Archives: commercial

The Importance of Tracking Commercial New Use

by Cecelia Gray, Administrative Assistant, AFM Electronic Media Services Division

Commercial new use is a rapidly expanding segment of the Commercial Announcements Agreement. In late October 2016, the full administration of the Commercial Announcements Agreement was transferred to the AFM’s New York Office, and in the time since, we have received more than 400 song inquiries from ad agencies looking to use existing tracks in their ad campaigns.

This article explains this often overlooked source of revenue, the processes by which we determine if AFM fees are owed, and the trends in track selection. Remember, you are your own best advocate. We hope that, in understanding what we look for in order to create an accurate invoice and the seasonal patterns of usage, you will be on the lookout for uses of your work that you have not been paid for.

The vast majority of commercial new use that comes through our office arrives via ad agencies that are looking at songs for a potential campaign. Each song on their list must be thoroughly researched. In order for the most accurate invoice to be created, we need to locate the original session information. Without a B Form, it is difficult to determine doubling, overdubs, and any music prep services that were done in connection with the track.

These original report forms may be on file at the local where the recording took place or in the local that the leader considered his/her home local. The sessions may have taken place in several jurisdictions and the session reports may be filed at multiple locals. Sometimes the track is so new that the forms have not even been filed yet. Because of this, the research we do is both important and complex. It can often take weeks to assemble a complete picture and generate an accurate estimate of costs, but without taking the extra steps, we wouldn’t be able to secure the payments the musicians are owed.

Once we have the B Forms, fees are calculated based on the territories in which the ad will air, the length of time the ad will be aired, and the media on which the ad will air. A more detailed breakdown of these costs can be found on our website, but the general formula is the session and initial use fee (i.e., whichever media has the earliest first air date), followed by any subsequent uses (e.g., conversions, dubs, Internet, foreign).

Generally speaking, each of these uses has its own B-6 report form to ensure we are accurately tracking the usage and checks issued by the payroll company. This will also allow us to easily “re-up” a commercial, if the company feels it is still effective and would like to continue usage outside of the initial cycle. This would result in additional payments for the musicians.

The trends are largely common sense. The holiday seasons generate a large number of short-term ad campaigns, and there is another uptick in volume just before the Super Bowl. Because we are now living in a world where we are bombarded by advertising, the stream of requests never quite slows to a stop. During weeks where we receive minimal research requests, we are likely chasing down leads from prior weeks. The most surprising trend for us has been the use of motion picture scores in commercials, particularly scores from the mid-1990s and earlier.

So what does this mean for you? This means that you should always keep your ears tuned in for your work that may be used in commercials. We are surrounded by advertising and the sheer volume of it means there is a lot of previously recorded material being used on a daily basis. Just because you are a session musician who largely works on motion picture or sound recording sessions does not mean you should let your guard down.

If you receive checks for a commercial new use, please seek out that commercial and become familiar with it. If you see the commercial airing for longer than was indicated on your check, feel free to call us as you may be owed money for additional uses.

Above all else, be sure to file your B Forms in a timely manner and in the city where the work was done. Every type of new use benefits directly from simply having the forms in good order. You are the direct beneficiary of ensuring everything is in order.

AFM Commercial Announcements Agreement Extended One Year

by Maria Warner-Dowrich, Contractor Administrator, AFM Electronic Media Services Division

I am sure many of you are aware that, in June, the AFM and representatives of the commercial announcements industry’s Joint Policy Committee (JPC) agreed to extend the term of the international Commercial Announcements Agreement for a one-year period, subject to the AFM’s ratification procedure.

This extension follows the term of the June 5, 2014 through June 4, 2017 agreement, where the AFM negotiated significant wage, pension fund, and health and welfare increases, revamped provisions pertaining to commercial announcements made for the Internet and commercial announcements made for traditional uses that are “moved over” to the Internet, and agreed to terms for creating a provision for commercial announcements made for all media uses (television, radio, foreign use, nonbroadcast use, and Internet) for a one-year period.

Given the success of those negotiations, it was decided that there was no immediate need for “across the table” negotiations. However, the one-year extension, which became effective June 5 and will run through June 4, 2018, includes a 2% increase in base wages. Use and reuse payments will continue to be calculated at the same percentage as in the 2014-2017 agreement.

The agreement has been ratified by an overwhelming margin of all eligible musicians whose votes were returned and counted by secret ballot. The ratification process was administered by the American Arbitration Association and was observed by Administrative Assistant in the Electronic Media Services Division Cecelia Gray and me.

Brief outline of the new basic session wages:

  • Side musician one-hour session rate: $129.75
  • Leader, contractor, single musician: $259.50
  • Music preparation rates increased by 2%
  • Copyists receive either the side musician rate or page rates, whichever is higher
  • Arrangers and orchestrators receive the leader rate or page rates, whichever is higher
  • Sideline musician eight-hour minimum: $219.30
  • Leader and orchestra manager: $438.60
  • Pension fund contribution: 16.5% of scale wages
  • Health and welfare: $26, plus 6% of scale wages         

A copy of the new Commercial Announcements Agreement wage summary can be found on AFM.org. Click “Our Musicians,” then “Recording & Digital Media.” Scroll down to Recording and Digital Media Resources and you will see a list of agreements to choose from.

We have notified the “me too” signatories to the 2014-2017 agreement of the one-year extension and we are distributing letters of acceptance so they can memorialize the terms of the extension.

If you have any questions please contact me at the New York Office (phone: 917-229-0233 or email: mwarner-dowrich@afm.org).

52-Week All Media Cycle Addition in Commercial Announcements Agreement

by Maria Warner-Dowrich, Contract Administrator, AFM Electronic Media Services Division

52-week-media-agreementThere’s a new addition to the AFM Commercial Announcements Agreement. At the end of negotiations of the Commercial Announcements Agreement, June 5, 2014, the American Federation of Musicians and the Joint Policy Committee (JPC) agreed to add a new 52-week cycle in the all media initial use cycle and re-use cycle.

Under the new contract, with effective dates June 5, 2014 through June 4, 2017, the advertiser has the option to choose the 52-week cycle in all mediums and is not locked into any one or “sole” medium in any one cycle. These mediums include, but are not limited to television, radio, Internet, nonbroadcast, and foreign use.

Should the money savvy advertiser elect to choose the new all-media 52-week initial use cycle, they will save both monetarily and in terms of paperwork. But the main advantage of choosing this option is, the ability to use the AFM agreement as opposed to using the licensing agreement, and in so doing, the musicians immediately receive large pension and health and welfare contributions. The agreement will also provide a substantial upfront pay scale for musicians.

The all media payments are in addition to the appropriate minimum session fee payments (e.g., the one-hour session rate is $127.20 per side musician, etc.) The rates due arrangers, orchestrators, and copyists may be found in the music preparation section of the Commercial Announcements Agreement. Also applicable to session fee payments are: 16.5% pension fund contribution and $26, plus 6% health and welfare fund contribution. If the 52-week all media cycle is exercised, the additional payments (beyond the session fees) per spot, are $1,245 per side musician and copyist, with double scale for leader, contractor, arranger, and orchestrator, plus 16.5% pension and 6% health and welfare contributions.

If the advertiser elects a second 52-week all media cycle that payment is $933.75 per side musician and copyist, with double scale for leader, contractor arranger, and orchestrator, plus 16.5% pension and 6% health and welfare contributions. It’s the perfect fit for the busy advertiser looking to present a product in all media.

The attractive attribute of the new addition is flexibility to pick and choose, and mix and match the varied mediums covered under the Commercial Announcement Agreement for the applicable 52-week-cycle (one full year), and not three 13-week re-use cycles or 39 weeks in one medium, as provided in the previous agreement that was effective 2009-2012 and extended.

The new 52-week all media cycle agreement is thoroughly a win, win for all. But, it’s your call and we are here to assist!