Tag Archives: dave pomeroy

dave pomeroy

Unity: The Key to the AFM’s Future

dave pomeroy

by Dave Pomeroy, International Executive Board Member and President of Local 257 (Nashville, TN)

My first real interaction with the leadership of Nashville’s Local AFM 257 many years ago was for one reason—to help solve a problem involving local live gigs and an overzealous 257 business agent. After years of silent frustration, I finally stood up and said something about it at a membership meeting, and the next thing I knew, I was named head of a committee charged with solving the problem.

We met twice, identified the issue and agreed on the solution. We wrote a new local bylaw that clarified that when bands are playing “original music” in a “listening room,” the bandleader can be the employer and sign the contract. This one-sentence bylaw ended years of unnecessary confusion, numerous unjust charges against members, and a rigid attitude that was long overdue for a change. It was a turning point for me, and the start of a journey that has led me down some very different paths than I expected when I first moved to Nashville in 1977. I started paying more attention after that, and made a decision to get more involved in the business of our union.

As I was making the transition from a full-time touring musician to a freelance studio player, producer, and performer, I served on the Local 257 hearing board, and then the executive board. The more I listened and learned, the more I realized that there was much that could be done to improve things at Local 257, and that most problems seemed to stem from a lack of communication and/or a resistance to change.

In 2004, I became president of the Nashville chapter of the Recording Musicians Association player conference at a time when the AFM was fighting within itself and not taking care of business with the outside world. By improving communication between the members of our local and working with RMA chapters and AFM members elsewhere with similar concerns, we were able to make significant progress at the 2005 AFM Convention. My experience there changed my perspective once again, and I began to see the bigger picture. I could also see that we had a lot of work to do on the national level as well as within our local.

The next few years of internal union conflicts were frustrating, and it became apparent that something had to give, or the AFM was going to self-destruct. The timing couldn’t have been worse, as all this was happening at a time of great change in the music industry. After a lot of soul searching, in 2008 I ran for, and was elected to, the office of president of Local 257, which began a wave of change that peaked at the AFM Convention in 2010. I was part of the Unity Slate that brought new leadership to the AFM, including Ray Hair as president, and I was elected to the IEB.

It has been my honor to serve in both capacities since then. I am proud of what we have accomplished as a team to repair the damage done by AFM infighting over the previous decade and the progress we have made by working together. I have learned many valuable lessons, none more important than the understanding that if we are not united, we will not succeed.

So, why am I bringing up all this history up in 2019? Because time marches on, and now more than ever it is critically important for the next generation of AFM leaders to see the value in stepping up, getting involved, and making a difference. It is in the best interest of every AFM member for us to do everything we can to keep the lines of communication open within all segments of our membership. We must be united in purpose and focused on accomplishing our goals in our dealings with the worldwide music industry.

Young members are the future of the AFM, and we welcome your input and involvement. We need your ideas and energy to not only deal with what lies immediately ahead, but also to be able to anticipate future challenges. By listening to each other and working together, we all have a chance to pay it forward and help make a stronger AFM. It’s up to each of us to do our part and give back to the only organization that looks out for professional musicians. Here’s to the future!

Joint Venture Agreement

Are You Using the AFM Joint Venture Agreement to Protect your Intellectual Property?

dave pomeroyby Dave Pomeroy, AFM International Executive Board Member and President of Local 257 (Nashville, TN)

How does it work?

The AFM Joint Venture Agreement is designed for self-contained bands who want to document their recordings and business relationship with a no-cost contract that protects everyone involved. For every successful band, there are many more who don’t make it, and loose ends can come back to haunt you. When you are in your creative and exploratory mode, it’s not always easy to talk business with collaborators. But at some point, it is important to make sure you are all on the same page. A handshake agreement is great until it doesn’t work, and then it really doesn’t work! Along with completing the process of publishing your original tunes, you need to protect the intellectual property rights of your musical performances as well.

Continue reading

Introducing the New and Improved AFM Single Song Overdub Agreement

by Dave Pomeroy, AFM International Executive Board Member and President of Local 257 (Nashville, TN)

Calling all locals and recording musicians: the AFM Single Song Overdub recording scale can be a game changer for your local and its members!

This innovative concept is specifically designed for home recording, which—make no mistake—is happening all over the US and Canada. Affordable recording technology has permanently changed the world of making music, and in AFM locals of every size AFM members are recording in small studios, which are often located in their homes. Overdubs recorded and shared via the Internet have become commonplace, and this is the first AFM agreement to acknowledge this new business model. Sessions can easily fall through the cracks and not be covered by a union contract—especially in the world of indie recording. The Single Song Overdub  (SSO) contract is an easy-to-use, affordable, and convenient solution that is available to any AFM member.

What makes this contract unique is that the unit of commerce under this AFM agreement is the song—not the hour—and it is the only AFM recording agreement that allows the player to negotiate his or her own rate, with a $100 per song minimum. All pension and health & welfare (H&W) benefits are built inside the round number you negotiate; that’s another first.

For example, for each $100, there will be a $9.99 pension contribution, which is derived from the SRLA rate 12.81% of scale, payable by the musician. Members of locals with health plans will need to pass through the H&W amount to the local’s health plan. This computer friendly two-page employer agreement is a fillable pdf, which is completed by the player and sent to the employer, who only has to put an “X” beside the “I agree” box to execute the contract and enable the player to make their own pension contribution through their local. Most importantly, using this agreement ensures that, if a recording reaches 10,000 copies sold or is used in another medium, the player will be compensated accordingly and their intellectual property remains intact.

A scale worksheet included with the agreement lists the scale wages, pension, H&W, and Pay Pal fee for payment amounts of $100, $150, up to $500. Wages higher than $500 per song can easily be figured by addition or multiplication of smaller amounts. Up to 12 songs for one project in a six-month period are permissible under one agreement.

Multiple musicians can work under one agreement, if all musicians appear on all songs and everyone works at the same rate. The one exception is that the first musician to work under a signed SSO Agreement may charge a higher rate as the designated session leader for any upgrades or additional payments.

This scale can be combined with your local’s Limited Pressing Agreement, and the upgrade parameters are the same. When you have executed the agreement, done the work, sent the file, and received payment, you then file the contract with your local, along with your pension contribution. It will be submitted to the AFM Employer’s Pension Fund by the local.

The Single Song Overdub Agreement can be found at afm.org (in the “Document Library,” “Single Song Overdub” folder) and at nashvillemusicians.org (go to “Recording,” then “Scales, Forms & Agreements”). I recently made a short instructional video that explains how to use this agreement. It can be found on YouTube on the Nashville Musicians Association channel at https://

I hope that all of you who are recording for yourself and others will consider using this agreement to document your work and build your pension. As previously stated, this can be a game changer, but only if you use it! Otherwise, you risk losing all your intellectual property rights for the recording work you do. Once you’ve done it a time or two, it becomes easy to use. It can really make a difference for you, your local, and the AFM. Respect yourself and protect yourself!

help us, help you

Help Us, Help You

by Dave Pomeroy, AFM International Executive Board Member and President of Local 257 (Nashville, TN)

help us, help youMost musicians don’t fit the stereotypes that some people like to place on us. We are hard-working, productive members of society who provide a soundtrack to the lives of those who may not know what it means to be creative or to try to and make a living in the arts. Many of us are involved in our community as teachers, volunteers, and mentors to the musicians of the future. Musicians often have more obstacles to overcome than the average worker could imagine—yet, somehow we persevere.

The fact that we love to play should never be an obstacle to taking care of business. The major reason why the AFM exists is to help you navigate through the challenges of a constantly changing music industry.

I come from a family of nonmusicians, but I fell in love with the bass at age 10. My love for playing and determination to succeed have helped make many of my childhood dreams come true and I am very grateful for that. I only knew one person in Nashville when I moved there at age 21. I joined AFM Local 257, which helped me connect the dots and have a successful career. My first gigs were as a touring musician. Then I made a gradual transition into studio work, as well as writing, producing, and releasing my own musical projects. For years, my dad would ask, “Are they paying you, son?” And the main reason I could say to him, “Yes, they are,” was because of the AFM.

As I got more involved in my local, I began to see the administrative side of the equation, and recognized the importance of getting employers to sign AFM Agreements in advance of a session or engagement. Nothing is more effective than a bandleader, session leader, or sideman asking that all-important question, “Is this a union session?” and helping to get a signatory agreement in place before the gig happens. Once the gig is over, it is much more difficult to get people to take responsibility for doing things the right way.

Our job is to arm players with the right information, and to help explain to employers that an AFM contract protects everyone involved. For example, when a record is used in a TV show, film, or commercial, the new use payment comes from the third party that is using the recording, and not the original employer. Otherwise, it becomes a game of cat and mouse—the employer hopes the musicians don’t find out about the new use, and the musicians can do little but complain and try to get a piece of the license fee. Without an AFM contract, the chances of that happening are almost nil.

Unfortunately, at almost every turn, there are unscrupulous employers who will try to take advantage of musicians who take them at their word. When these people sign an AFM agreement—whether or not they ever intended to follow through—we have the leverage to make it right. I recently concluded a 4 1/2-year quest to get musicians paid for reruns of TV shows done under an AFM Agreement more than 20 years ago. I have been chasing another deadbeat musician/producer for nearly 10 years, and have recovered more than 25% of what is due, with more coming.

This is all because of the legal protections our contracts give musicians who do AFM work. If these projects had not been done under AFM agreements, I would not have been able to get the musicians involved paid for their work. This has not been easy, but it is important to stand up for treating musicians with respect.

Here’s the bottom line: for 120 years the AFM has been looking out for musicians. Help us, help you, and let’s work together to make things right. If we don’t have your back, who does?

Are You Leaving Money On the Table?

There are many challenges to maintaining your career as a professional musician. We live in a technology-driven world that has dramatically changed the way music is distributed, marketed, and sold. The drop in CD sales precipitated by illegal downloading has leveled off somewhat, but digital download sales have not compensated for the loss of income to musicians, record labels, and music publishers.

Continue reading