Tag Archives: Electronic Media Services Division

union contracts

Union Contracts Come Up Big During Pandemic

In this troubled and uncertain time where there has been a dramatic decrease in live work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a certain amount of solace in knowing that projects recorded under AFM agreements administered by the Electronic Media Services Division can and have resulted in much needed income for musicians. 

An example of such projects is the live production of Jesus Christ Superstar. The event was produced under the Television Videotape Agreement in 2018. Two years later, with the stay at home edict in effect and new production limited, NBC rebroadcast the program on Easter Sunday. This will result in significant reuse payments required by the Videotape Agreement. In addition, earlier this year, the program was exhibited over public television—another source of income for musicians. 

Another example is The Kelly Clarkson Show. This is a daytime talk show that premiered in September 2019. Due to the pandemic, original production of the show has been placed on hiatus. However, existing shows are being rerun both in their usual daytime slots and then early the next morning. Under the terms of the TV Videotape Agreement, the musicians of the house band have received and will continue to receive reuse payments for both the daytime and early morning exhibition of each show. This also extends to musicians performing with guest artists.

In addition, there is potential income from documentary programs that contain clips licensed from producers of shows produced under an AFM Agreement. For instance, the PBS documentary, Sesame Street—50 Years and Still Sunny, includes clips from the various seasons of Sesame Street. We are in the process of securing pertinent information that will enable us to bill for clip use payments in connection with this production. 

And the new use of sound recordings into motion pictures and television films has stayed the course and use of sound recordings and motion picture soundtracks into commercial announcements have actually increased.

These are just a few examples of how AFM agreements have generated payments for musicians during this precarious time. Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions: 646-269-0827. 

Highlights of EMSD Special Focus Issue

Electronic Media Services Divisionby Patrick Varriale, Director AFM Electronic Media Services Division and Assistant to the President

Welcome to the 2017 Electronic Media Services Division (EMSD) focus issue of the International Musician. The EMSD is the division of the AFM responsible for servicing recording musicians (with the exception of symphonic electronic media, which is administered by the Symphonic Services Division). We are confident that this issue has articles relevant to all readers.

In this issue EMSD Contract Administrator Maria Warner Dowrich reports on the one-year extension of the Commercial Announcements Agreement; Mary Beth Blakey provides an updated list of EMSD staff dedicated to providing the utmost in service to musicians whose livelihoods are impacted by the EMSD; and Matt Allen speaks to the various soundtrack album provisions of the Basic Theatrical Motion Picture and Television Film Labor Agreements. Administrative Assistant Cecelia Gray tells readers about her role juggling a huge volume of jingle new use projects. My article below explains the EMSD’s role in the AFM’s new Officer Training Program, which is available to locals prior to regional conferences. My other article is about the importance of filing live performance contracts and how potential electronic media payments are impacted.

In this issue, you will also find informative articles from Recording Musicians Association (RMA) President Marc Sazer, Contractor Juliet Haffner, and Local 802 (New York City) member Marc Ribot on behalf of the Artist Rights Caucus. I thank them for their contributions to this issue.

Last, but certainly not least, I am especially glad to have Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) member Carl Verheyen as the cover story for this issue. As you will read, he has had a long and successful recording career. I cannot tell you how pleased I am to have Verheyen associated with this issue.

As this issue goes to press, the West Coast Office is relocating to Burbank (from Hollywood). It is operating out of a temporary space while the new office is being prepared for opening in mid-September. Special thanks to the staff in that office for their attention to this issue during this time of inconvenience and for their sincere dedication throughout the year.

I also want to recognize the personnel in the EMSD New York Office. Over the past year, they have taken on a greater workload and I cannot thank them enough for their “day in and day out” tireless effort to the cause.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank in-house AFM Counsel Jennifer Garner and Russ Naymark for their invaluable assistance in negotiations of our major agreements, resolving long outstanding claims, and lending their expertise to the many special agreements that this office is involved with to cover the recording work of our great musicians.

I hope you enjoy these articles. Please let us know if you any questions. We are always glad to be of assistance.

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.

Continue reading

B-4 Reminder to Local Officers and Staff

by Patrick Varriale, Director AFM Electronic Media Services Division

The following story is true: A contractor who was very active in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, and kept meticulous records for his many recording sessions, called to ask us if the Federation could use copies of his B report forms. Without missing (excuse the pun) a beat we said, “YES! Absolutely! Definitely!” 

We are in the process of scanning those forms so that they can be cataloged and readily accessible for potential additional use of the musicians’ product, thereby generating additional payments on their behalf. This helps us tremendously to streamline the billing process for the ever-increasing number of projects utilizing existing material.    

This story serves as a perfect reminder to all local officers and staff to please be sure to forward to the AFM copies of all B forms and music preparation invoices your local receives for recording projects. The forms are maintained in both the New York and West Coast offices. The potential additional uses normally administered by the AFM include sound recordings that are licensed for use in a theatrical motion picture, television film, commercial announcement, etc., or in a special project (clip show, “anniversary” show, award show, etc.). These projects are ongoing and oftentimes there is a tremendous amount of research that is undertaken by our staff on both coasts for any given project to ensure that the musicians receive proper compensation for the additional use of their product.

Your local should be proactive in making sure that the B forms are filled out completely and accurately, with a current signatory to the appropriate AFM agreement in place. These forms should be maintained and readily available when pursuing the usual additional payments. Two examples would be (1) under the Commercial Announcements Agreement for reuse, foreign use, or Internet use of commercial announcements and (2) under the live television agreements for reruns, foreign use of programs, and programs that are made available in supplemental markets—DVD releases or a different type of television (commercial television to basic cable television). And please be sure that music preparation invoices are matched up to the report forms that are filed for the instrumentalists.

Please send any and all B report forms (and music preparation invoices) to the New York office: American Federation of Musicians; Attn: EMSD; 1501 Broadway, Suite 600; New York, NY 10036. Contact us with any questions you have.

Protect the Product

Protect the Product: Don’t Skip the “Red Tape” of Union Requirements

by Patrick Varriale, AFM Electronic Media Services Division Director and Assistant to the President

Protect the ProductIn the old days, we would refer to it as protecting the tape, but with new technology, protect the product seems more appropriate. No matter what the terminology, it is as important today as it ever was.

It seems as if we have been writing articles on this subject matter since the dawn of time, but it is always worth repeating. When you are called to a recording session the first two questions you should ask are: 1) What type of recording project am I being called for? and  2) Who is the responsible party? Then, check to be sure the company is signatory to the proper AFM agreement, which you can do by contacting your local or the AFM.

The most common type of recording is a CD release. In that instance, you want to make sure:

1) That the company engaging you is currently signed to the AFM Sound Recording Labor Agreement (SRLA), or is a label under a major signatory, so that the recording activity of the record company is covered. (If the recording project is on a smaller scale, a limited pressing agreement may apply).

2) That an AFM B-4 report form is completed listing your services (guitar, bass, keyboards, etc.). If you performed overdub services, as opposed to doubles, you should be listed separately on the B-4 for each instrument. This will ensure that you receive proper payments from the Sound Recording Special Payments Fund for each of the next five years.

If your “product” is licensed for use in a new medium such as a theatrical motion picture, television film, or commercial announcements, you will receive the appropriate new use payments required by the SRLA. (See “Top 10 Reasons to Record AFM”). New use payments could end up being worth much more than the original scale payments you received.

Many times we hear that the musicians were advised to forgo the filing of a B form in an effort to get paid more quickly, rather than going through the “red tape” of union requirements. Believe me, the red tape is worth it to ensure that your services are properly covered.

We have heard many hard-luck stories from musicians who sometimes received more than scale “up front,” but now see their product being used repeatedly and are unable to pursue the extra payment that they would have been entitled to through the Federation’s process. Musicians who were victimized in this way tell us that they will never make that mistake again.

Here are a couple precautions pertaining to live recordings:

  • If you will be participating at a concert that will be recorded, you should contact the local where the live event will be held to see if a standard contract is in place to cover the live work. This is highly important because the live performance contract contains language that requires the “purchaser” to see to it that a written agreement is in place for the recorded performance.
  • Check the annual statement you receive from the pension fund to confirm that the work you performed is properly logged into the system. Check for any discrepancies and report them to the local as soon as possible. This will give the local and the AFM an opportunity to review inaccuracies and correct them. If you haven’t received this important statement because you have moved, please contact a representative of the pension fund and provide them with your current address.

Your product and artistry contributed to the recording. You should see to it that your valued services receive the optimum protection.

New Compilation and Clip Use Collections

AFM Agreements Provide Compensation for New Compilation and Clip Use Collections

by Andie Childs, Administrator (Clips, Soundtracks) AFM Electronic Media Services Division

New Compilation and Clip Use CollectionsCompilations, for Electronic Media Services Division (EMSD) purposes, are programs that use excerpts from multiple outside sources such as films, TV shows, and records as a substantial part of their content.

Last year, the EMSD collected and disbursed payment for the many records and clips used in Denny Tedesco’s film The Wrecking Crew. This documentary portrays the ace session players who created the tracks for just about every major pop recording made in Los Angeles from the late 1950s into the 1980s. Long in the making, the film spent years on the festival circuit before finally going into wide release this year to great acclaim. We sent checks, not only to the Wrecking Crew regulars, but to hundreds of string, horn, and other backing players as well.

In a joint effort between New York and West Coast EMSD staff, we collected and disbursed payments for several anniversary specials made by New York’s public television flagship Thirteen WNET. Checks went to musicians who worked on 40 years’ worth of PBS musical and cultural programs covering the spectrum from ballet, opera, jazz, rock, and soul, to news and documentaries, and of course, Sesame Street and The Electric Company. Members who benefited from these disbursals played behind elite performers such as Wynton Marsalis of Local 802 (New York City), Luciano Pavarotti, Julie Andrews, Natalie Cole, The Martha Graham Dance Company, and more.

Former members of The Lawrence Welk Show band continued to benefit from its rebroadcast on PBS stations under a long-standing agreement administered by the West Coast Office. This year we also received and disbursed payment for the rebroadcast of two Lawrence Welk specials, in addition to the weekly shows.

We also processed a fair number of lump-sum payments for film clips used in documentaries and other films under Paragraph 8A of the TV Film and Motion Picture Agreements. Though these amounts are often small, they can certainly add up.

The process of collecting payment on compilations is labor intensive. The first step is to research specific data on the excerpts: recording date, place, and production company. Armed with that information, we locate the session reports, which can take further searching and sleuthing. Depending on where the work was done, we may have to call upon the local for help. Once we have the paperwork, I calculate the total payment amount by entering all the musicians and their positions in a spreadsheet and using per-musician rates determined by the media agreement that the work falls under.

Once the calculations are done, the appropriate contract administrator draws up a Special Letter of Agreement. The letter lays out payment and terms of use for the excerpts, and prohibits the use of the excerpted music in any other production outside of the original compilation program, without a new payment.

Once the agreement is executed and payment is received, I prepare a disbursal spreadsheet for our finance department listing all the participants with their current address and their share. Each address is retrieved individually from our membership database. Finally, the checks are cut and mailed, either in-house or by a payroll company.

The procedure for collecting on film-to-film clips used under the TV Film and Motion Picture Agreements is similar. Payment calculation is simpler since it’s a fixed, lump-sum amount, determined by clip length and type. However, the research and disbursal steps are the same.

If you’ve received such a check lately I hope this brief description gives you an idea of what went into it. The EMSD gladly fulfills its obligation to collect any and all payments due to our members for use of their recorded work. Clip use and compilation is a small but not insignificant part of our entire new use collection process.

A Brief Introduction to Electronic Media Services Division

Patrick Varrialeby Patrick Varriale, AFM Electronic Media Services Division Director and Assistant to the President

I am excited to present the first special EMSD issue of the IM as director of the Electronic Media Services Division (EMSD), which represents and protects the interests of the AFM’s great recording musicians.

The following four articles were prepared by the many talented EMSD staff persons:
1. CDs Have Taken On a Life of Their Own
2. Top 10 Important Reasons to Record AFM
3. Protect The Product 
4. AFM Agreements Provide Compensation for New Compilation and Clip Use Collections
5. How to Handle Professional Sideline Work
6. New Use Department Has a Cubicle for You
7. 52-Week All Media Cycle Addition in Commercial Announcements Agreement

They are intended to be informative and to serve as a guide. We have also included an up-to-date list of EMSD staff and the functions they provide. They are all serious people—most of whom have dedicated themselves to serving recording musicians for many years. Our West Coast Office is led by Matt Allen and Mary Beth Blakey. While the New York Office will continue to be my base of operations, I am both confident and proud to have Allen and Blakey working with me to handle the complex and detailed-oriented administration of our recording agreements in a department where the projects keep coming.

The negotiations front has been, and will continue to be, busy. Earlier this year we completed negotiations for the new Basic Theatrical Motion Picture and Television Film Labor agreements. Those agreements have since been ratified. We have also completed negotiations with representatives of the producers of Conan, and are preparing to enter into negotiations for a new Sound Recording Labor Agreement (SRLA). Also on our negotiations radar are: Country Music Television (CMT), national public television, basic cable television, and nonstandard pay television.

Though our collective plates are extremely full, that has not prevented us from putting together a collection of articles for you to enjoy. So please sit back, read up, and let us know if you have any questions or comments.