Tag Archives: electronic media services

EMSD Special Issue Highlights

Electronic Media Services Division

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

Welcome to this year’s issue of the International Musician focused on electronic media and the Electronic Media Services Division (EMSD)—the division of the AFM charged with serving and protecting the interests of nonsymphonic recording musicians. (The AFM Symphonic Services Division represents opera, ballet, and chamber orchestra electronic media projects.)

This issue is packed with articles and information that I am confident all readers will find interesting. Below, I write about the increasing importance of filing live performance contracts and how vital they are, especially when the performances are captured. On the opposite page is a list of questions that you can ask employers about electronic media projects in order to determine which AFM agreement(s) apply to a particular situation. The accompanying table will further help you to select the proper agreement for your work.

On page 12, Contract Administrator Mary Beth Blakey describes current streaming agreements that cover just about all types of streaming projects. Alyson Sheehan contributes an article on her experiences billing and collecting for the growing use of prerecorded material in commercial announcements.

Contract Administrator Maria Warner-Dowrich expands on the recently ratified 18-month extension of the Commercial Announcements Agreement and the wage increase applicable during that time period on page 14. She also gives an update on the local nonsymphonic Limited Pressing Agreement.

On page 15, Administrative Assistant Kim Wysocki reviews the CD jacket initiative process and how important it is to our billing and collection of new use payments.

In the Official Reports section on page 4, there is an informative article from Recording Musicians Association President Marc Sazer.  My sincere thanks to Marc for his contribution and his ongoing assistance to the EMSD.

I also want to thank the EMSD staff on both coasts for their dedication to the cause. We have an updated list of the staff and their functions on page 16. I am very proud of their accomplishments and the expertise they bring to recording musicians on a daily basis.

Finally, I would also like to thank AFM In-House Counsel Jennifer Garner and Russ Naymark for their continued 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.

Enjoy this issue and let us know if you have any questions. We are just a phone call or email away.

record under afm

Top 10 Important Reasons to Record Under AFM Agreements

  1.  Standard wages—You are guaranteed to receive at least the minimum standards for your services.
  2.  Doubling and overdubs—In addition to wage payments, the employer is required to make payments for doubling and overdub services.
  3.  Foreign use—If you perform services in the production of a show produced under most of the AFM’s television agreements, you will receive additional payments if the program is broadcast overseas.
  4. BLu-ray payments—If you provide services to a program that is released into the Blu-ray or digital formats, you will be entitled to additional payments that will
    continue to accrue based on gross receipts.
  5. Pension fund contribution—The employer is required to make a pension fund contribution on your behalf, which puts your documented work into the system.
  6. Health and welfare fund contribution—The employer is required to make health and welfare contributions to the health plan of your local. If your local does not have a plan, they are required to make a nonpensionable wage payment directly to you.
  7. SOUND RECORDING Special payments fund (SPF)—If you perform services on
    sessions for a sound recording, you are guaranteed to receive payments from the Sound Recording Special Payments Fund for each of the next five years.
  8. Secondary markets fund—If you perform services under the Basic Theatrical Motion Picture or Television Film Labor agreements, you will qualify for distributions from the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund should the film be released to outlets such as pay cable, TV, Blu-ray, or new media.
  9. Reuse—If you perform services for work under the Commercial Announcements Agreement, you will receive periodic reuse payments for any new cycles the
    commercials enter into; if the commercial is exhibited on the Internet, full payment for use in that format will apply. Re-use also applies to work done under the AFM TV agreements.
  10. New use—If you perform services under an AFM agreement and your product is licensed for use in another medium, such as a theatrical motion picture, television film, or commercial announcement, you will be entitled to additional payments and pension contributions as if you had performed the work under that agreement.
reality TV

Today’s Reality TV Contracts

by Mary Beth Blakey, Contract Administrator AFM Electronic Media Services Division

A conundrum that we frequently face when administering television agreements is how they apply to so-called reality TV. Early on, there was a tendency to designate all reality television programs as falling under the Television Videotape Agreement. However, as the years went on and subgenres within reality programming became more defined, the contract administrators in the New York and the West Coast offices were able to reach a more definitive consensus as to which reality shows fall under Live Television agreements, and which fall under the Television Film Agreement.

The distinctions become much more intuitive once you can place a given program under its particular subgenre within reality television.

Documentary Style

The current overwhelming majority of reality programming is “documentary style,” which is almost exclusively administered and interpreted as Television Film content. 

  • Dating—Shows such as the The Bachelor/Bachelorette, Are You the One? and Coupled, featuring contestants attempting to find love, are all TV Film programming. If you receive a call to perform on one of these shows, contact Matt Allen in the West Coast Office to discuss the signatory status of the show, as well as applicable sideline rates. 
  • Soap opera style/celebrities—Programs such as Keeping Up with the Kardashians, I Love Kellie Pickler, Love & Hip Hop, as well as The Real Housewives of … would also all be considered Television Film content. If you spot an AFM sound recording being used in one of these shows, please alert the New Use department in the West Coast Office. 
  • Nonvariety competition—These are shows that feature competition and elimination, but without a variety or musical element. Think Chopped, Project Runway, or Survivor. These programs are also interpreted and administered under the Television Film agreement. 

Variety-Based Competition

“Variety-based competition” is the only subgenre of reality programming that should be consistently contracted and reported under the relevant live TV agreement—Television Videotape, Basic Cable, or Non-Standard Television. The Voice, America’s Got Talent, and Dancing with the Stars are great examples of competition shows highlighting musical performances, putting them squarely in the scope of the Television Videotape Agreement.

Contractors working on new shows of this type should contact Mary Beth Blakey in the West Coast Office for the latest applicable rates and terms. 

Little Cog in a Big Machine

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

When people ask me about my job I struggle to tell them precisely what my work means to me and what it is I do. I’m a horribly irreverent person, so I say something like, “I work in an office environment where we can spend 10 minutes one-upping each other with puns and it is not an atypical moment for anyone.”

And though that’s something I love about my job, that’s not the root of it. Yes, I love that everyone indulges me with my highly decorated desk, I love talking about music all day, and I love the little peeks I get into the broad and deep history of this place. This job for me, though, is something larger.

I’m the child of a singer-songwriter, a woman who is one of the best music educators I’ve ever seen, and who understands the impact that a good arts education can have on a kid. She fought for years to get proper equipment and funding to build a music program to be proud of in my hometown. I grew up surrounded by a small community of artists of one kind or another, all of whom, including my mother, still struggle with the unfortunate undervaluing of art. I have watched my friends barely scrape by, while they pour their souls out on stage for tips. I’ve fallen behind on rent because it turns out that short films couldn’t pay after all. Do it for the exposure, just try not to die of exposure in the process.

I suppose it’s fitting that, with all of that personal history, I would end up in a place where I can try to do something about it professionally.

I am a little cog in a big machine, but I like what this machine does and I like what I do in it. I help to process paperwork that ensures music is being produced under union conditions. I answer questions about wages and pension for employers and members. I keep detailed records of projects where the union could potentially find its members involved and in need of support. When I can, I find previously unreleased material and money for session musicians who rely upon that money. I am here to support and give voice to those whose work is being used without their permission. As an artist, this gives my job meaning. I am not just pushing paper; I am making sure artists are treated with the respect they deserve.

I was only recently hired full-time, and even though this job fits perfectly into my interests, I was just a temp who accidentally stumbled into it. Now, I’m in this weird family that laughs too loud about dumb puns and I don’t think I’ll be leaving anytime soon. I hope I get the chance to speak for more of you, more often, and I hope that you all will find in me an ally for many years to come.

new use

Are You a Leader?

by Daniel Calabrese, Canadian Federation of Musicians EMSD Contract Administrator

Think back to 10 years ago. How did you record your music? How did you rehearse? Who paid for your recording time? The way to make music is constantly upgrading. It’s taking less space, less equipment, less hassle, and sometimes less money. With that, the result has led to one truth: we’re making more music, faster than ever before, and it’s not slowing down.

While swimming in sound recording contracts on the daily, I’m starting to recognize that we’re currently living in a music supervisor’s heaven. Traditionally, publishing companies would run licensing departments; today music supervisors clear songs directly with artists in advance and pitch their music later. Traditionally, labels would hire musicians to make recordings; today we see artists record everything themselves, then license it to the labels. We’re in an era with an endless supply of new music; rules are changing daily, and everyone is breaking tradition.

However, there’s one tradition of practice that shouldn’t change in this new era: now, more than ever, session leaders need to submit recording contracts to their local after every session. We see too many AFM members recording music without grasping the potential of success from that recording. With music licensing increasing, new use goes up. (Taking prerecorded material and using it in a new medium. For example, “Eye of the Tiger” being placed in a commercial jingle.)

What is new use? Where did it come from? There’s a long answer going back to the early 1930s, where the work of live musicians performing to silent films in theatres was diminished, and soon completely replaced by scored music that was recorded in the movie. Shortly after that, musicians were replaced by prerecorded material on radio shows. The short answer is that new use keeps the value of music, while the way we use music changes. When a member performs services under an AFM agreement, that work is protected, if it’s used for any purpose other than its original intent. That means, if your recorded material is used in a future television commercial, you will be compensated the same as if you had performed new work under AFM’s Commercial Agreement.

Submitting a B-4 recording contract not only protects your work from potential future use, it also guarantees payments from the Sound Recording Special Payments Fund (SRSPF) for the next five years. The SRSPF was established in 1964 by the AFM and recording companies who employed AFM musicians under the collective bargaining agreement known as the Sound Recording Labour Agreement (SRLA). Record companies are obliged to contribute a percentage of their record sale revenue into a fund for distribution to musicians listed on B-4 forms that are submitted. The more work submitted, the more contributions a musician receives from the fund. More information can be found at sound-recording.org.

As the music industry runs in a world without borders, one thing that must stay true is the value of music. Through the protection of new use and other benefits like SRSPF, the AFM proves to be a leader by its ability to adapt to change, no matter how quickly technology can advance/regress the industry.

Are you a leader? If bandleaders (and all musicians) continue to submit their contract reports to locals, it’s much easier to credit and compensate members appropriately, while allowing the industry to run more efficiently.

Please contact me at (416) 391-5161 X224, if you have any questions concerning Canadian recordings and/or other electronic media services.

D and B-4 Report Forms: Ensuring Musicians Are Properly Listed

by Kim Wysocki, Administrative Assistant, AFM Electronic Media Services Division

The importance of our CD Jacket Program has grown over the years and continues to grow.

Securing the release of all sound recording products, including, but not limited to, box sets, “anniversary” packages, deluxe editions, etc., which usually contain live and previously unreleased material and coordinating the proper filing of B forms for these recordings, as well as all recordings done under the Sound Recording Labor Agreement (SRLA) are vital to the Electronic Media Services Division (EMSD).

This office continues to pursue major record companies, including covered labels and independent labels signed to the SRLA. In the same vein, the EMSD researches to obtain CDs, label copies, and other pertinent information (including digital releases). When this process is completed, the information gathered is shared with the AFM locals in whose jurisdictions the recordings took place. We work together to ensure that B-4 report forms are accurately filed (hours worked, doubles, overdubs, music preparation, etc.) and also make sure that a current signatory contract is in place. We coordinate our efforts to ensure that musicians are properly credited and receive wages, pension, etc., for their work and subsequent payments from the Special Payments Fund for each of the next five years, as well as for potential new use of recordings in motion pictures, TV Film, commercial announcements, and more.

The filing of these forms is essential and it’s to the benefit of every musician who performs on a recording to see that they are properly listed on the AFM B-4 report forms for their work. This makes new use billing procedures go more smoothly.

EMSD has a scanning procedure to ensure that all the report forms received in this office for any work performed under AFM agreements are “stored” in our system, thereby making them readily accessible.  We also have an electronic jacket file (provided by the Pension Fund), which enables us to access information as needed. The more information we have on file, the better equipped we are to serve and assist you.

who to contact at esmd

Click to enlarge

new media productions

Original Made-for-New-Media Motion Picture Productions

by Matt Allen, Contract Administrator, AFM Electronic Media Services Division

Today, more productions are initially made for new media platforms. At recent motion picture seminars I have participated in, original made-for-new-media productions are fast becoming a popular topic of conversation. A side letter to deal with original new media productions was added to the AFM Basic Television Motion Picture Agreement of 2010-2013. Since then, the AFM has covered a number of made-for-new-media motion pictures, from small budget film projects to large new media productions such as House of Cards, Mozart in the Jungle, Alpha House, and Transparent, just to name a few.

I regularly receive questions from musicians, contractors, and producers on just how the AFM handles scoring motion pictures made initially for new media because of the growing popularity of made-for-new-media motion picture productions, and the demand for original scores utilizing world-class musicians in these productions. For this article, I will review some of the basics.

Terms and conditions of employment on original new media productions are freely negotiable between the employee and the producer. This offers greater flexibility to fit the budgetary needs of individual projects, especially smaller independent new media projects. The exception is that all applicable terms and conditions pursuant to the Basic Television Motion Picture Agreement shall apply for musicians who are engaged to perform sideline (on-camera) services on high-budget SVOD programs.

The producer is obligated to make health and welfare (H&W) contributions on behalf of each employee engaged, and such H&W contributions shall be based on the greater of hours worked or guaranteed. In addition, on new media productions budgeted at $25,000 or more per minute, the producer is also obligated to pay a pension contribution on behalf of each employee engaged.

Original made-for-new-media motion pictures should not be confused with other types of new media productions, such as live concerts captured for streaming on the Internet or other devices, which are covered by a different AFM agreement. Lastly, it is important to note that all session paperwork must be filed with the local office in the jurisdiction where the work is being done, and copies of those session report forms must be sent to the AFM’s national office in order to ensure they are filed with the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund so that participating musicians are properly credited for their performance in any secondary markets distribution.

Please feel free to contact me directly at the AFM West Coast Office if you should have any questions.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers About Electronic Media

by Michael Manley, Director AFM AFM Touring/Theatre/Booking Division and former Contract Administrator, Commercials, Gaming, Videotape

Q: What types of work activity does AFM electronic media cover?

The AFM’s Electronic Media Services Division (EMSD) covers three broad categories:

1) Original media that is created. (For example, a jazz band’s recorded concert, musicians hired to perform soundtrack music for a TV commercial or film, or musicians hired to appear as a ’40s big band in a motion picture filmed for TV or theatrical release.)

2) Existing media that is reused, or incorporated into a new medium. These are often referred to as “new uses” or “reuses.” (For example, a television show’s soundtrack music released as a CD or digital download, a pop song used in a video game, or a movie theme used in an Internet advertisement.)

3) Supplemental markets, in which existing media is released into a new format or market. (For example, a theatrical film released on DVD or Blu-ray, a commercial broadcast in a foreign country, or a television movie offered for streaming on Netflix.)

Musicians working under AFM contracts therefore have protections, not only for their original performances for audiovisual recordings, but also intellectual property rights for the various uses of those AFM-covered recordings. It is important that AFM members understand that working under an AFM contract protects their rights for any recordings that take place as well. Without an AFM contract for live performance, it is extremely difficult for the AFM EMSD to file claims for, or recover payments for, audio or audiovisual recordings made of that work.

Q: As a local officer, how do I bill for any of the above and how do my contractors know the appropriate rates to quote for media projects?

Summaries of the major AFM media contract rates can be found at www.afm.org. Many projects today cross platforms, or don’t fit neatly into established boxes, so it is best to contact EMSD staff with potential projects, and provide as much detail as possible. EMSD relies on local officers and musicians to investigate and discover potential projects in their local’s jurisdiction, and to ask the right questions so that EMSD staff can ensure projects are appropriately covered.

Q: What are “the right questions”?

You can’t assume that employers or contractors will divulge all the information needed, so it helps to put on the “Sherlock Holmes hat” when discussing media projects. Here are some guiding questions appropriate for all general inquiries.

In the case of live performances/concerts:

Will there be an audio-only or audiovisual recording of the performance? How long is the show/performance content being captured?

Is it for archival/personal purposes?

Will it be broadcast and where? (network TV, pay cable, PBS, basic cable, etc.)

Is it for sale?

Is it to be used for download/web distribution?

How many copies/units are planned?

Who will own/control the product?

In the case of recording calls (commercials, film scores, country or pop songs, etc.):

What is the project? (film score, sound recording, filmed live concert, etc.)

What content will the music serve? (documentary film, independent film, awards show, rock/pop album, video game, etc.)

Where will the media be distributed?
(PBS, network TV, Internet stream, sold as a DVD, etc.)

What is the length of the show?

Is this audio only or audiovisual?

When will the show/content be broadcast
or released?

Who is the producer/network/employer?

Q: How do I handle reuses, new uses, and supplemental markets?

New uses, reuses, and supplemental markets are mainly handled by our EMSD staff, and partner organizations such as the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund. While we heavily research for new uses, we always appreciate members and local officers giving us a “heads-up” if they spot new uses of their work. When a local becomes aware of reuses of recordings that are likely covered, it is best to contact EMSD and let us know. Proper payment on these secondary uses of existing recordings relies on the locals providing accurate records of original B report forms for the recordings done in their jurisdictions.

Q: We have B forms from 1980’s recording sessions in our local office. They are taking up space. Can I throw them out?

No! At least not before scanning them and sending electronic copies to the EMSD. Think of the B report form as the DNA of your musicians’ recording work. Every time a recording travels to a new medium, or is rereleased, the original B form tells us who needs to be compensated, if a musician had one or more doubles, if they were a leader or side musician, and other vital billing data.

Q: Most of the work in our jurisdiction is live, so do I need to bother with all this?

The short answer: Absolutely! Given the ever-expanding media landscape, with new technologies and platforms emerging all the time, audio and audiovisual recording is occurring more frequently.

Q: This is fine for a major network or film company, but most of our local employers are small companies. Do you think they can afford AFM rates?

The EMSD creates Special Letters of Agreement to address the needs of unique projects, when appropriate. We are obligated to apply the appropriate national rates when projects fall under those umbrellas, but some events fall under the local’s jurisdiction. Rather than assume rates are not workable, check with the EMSD first and see if there is a solution. We want to capture work, not turn it away!

Q: What if things are recorded without permission? I just found our local orchestra’s holiday concert was broadcast on our local PBS station. What do I do?

All AFM Agreements should have some version of an “alligator” clause, which ensures proper payment can be sought in such cases. It’s called an alligator clause because it “bites” unauthorized media capturers by requiring proper AFM payments. Here is a sample alligator clause:

Should any product created or utilized under the terms of this agreement ever be utilized for any purpose not explicitly set forth herein, including, but not limited to, grant application, displacement of musicians in rehearsal or performance, national or international broadcast, Internet, demonstration or marketing of services or product by any group or individual, commercial phonograph records, promos, or commercial announcements, or background music for any type of sound or film program, the employer shall obligate itself to enter into and fulfill all conditions required by the appropriate agreement of the American Federation of Musicians, including, but not limited to, the payment of all applicable wages, residuals, royalties, and benefits.

In the case of your holiday concert broadcast, the above alligator clause would require your orchestra to pay the appropriate PBS broadcast rates for that use. All local live performance and single-engagement contracts should have some version of this alligator clause, in order to protect musicians against unauthorized uses of their recorded work. Without an alligator clause, there is no guarantee proper payment for unauthorized uses can be collected.

Q: Is there anything else I should know?

We love to hear from local officers, leaders, contractors, and musicians. So don’t be afraid to give EMSD staff a call when there are questions about media. And there are always questions about media!

Electronic Media Services Division

A Brief Introduction to EMSD

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

It is with great pride that I present to you this year’s International Musician focus issue dedicated to musicians that perform or plan to perform services in the world of electronic media (nonsymphonic) and the division of the AFM that serves and protects the interests of those musicians—the Electronic Media Services Division (EMSD). Our cover story features Brent Mason, a session guitarist, whose résumé spans more than 35 years, and has been a union member in good standing for all of those years.

On this site you will find articles from EMSD staff that we hope all readers will find of interest. We’ve covered the gamut, from the importance of seeing to it that your recorded product is properly covered to the emerging world of new media. In addition, there is an article from Recording Musicians Association (RMA) President Marc Sazer you should read. I am grateful to him for his contribution to this issue.

We also have an up-to-date list of the dedicated staff ready to assist you in their particular fields of expertise. I am very proud of the folks that work tirelessly in this division—they make my life so much easier. Thanks to their efforts, we have been able to expand our services even more to address the myriad of tasks and projects that we encounter on a day-to-day basis.

This issue also includes a reprint of “Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about Electronic Media” authored by EMSD Alumnus Michael Manley (now the director of the AFM Touring/Theatre/Booking Division), a revised version of “Top 10 Reasons to Record AFM”.

So, please take some time to sit back, relax, and read these articles, as well as the material we have provided. Let us know if you have any questions or comments.

My Overview of the AFM Convention

In June, I participated in the 100th Convention of the AFM. With only two exceptions, I have had the honor of attending all conventions as part of the setup team that oversees the inner workings of this momentous event.

However, this year’s convention was different for me on two fronts. It was my first as co-coordinator with Assistant to the President Ken Shirk. Ken did a masterful job and I was happy to work with him in leading our talented and hardworking “crew” through the months in advance detailed preparation process and the volume of “on the ground” moving parts at the actual event. The fact that it took place at a new venue, with a new hotel staff to work with, made it all the more challenging and the success of it all the more rewarding.

It was also my first convention in the capacity of EMSD director. It was quite daunting, to say the least, to see to it that the heavy volume of activity in the EMSD New York, West Coast, and Canadian offices continued to run like a well-oiled machine, while at the same time taking on the many responsibilities as co-coordinator of this landmark convention.

Among EMSD’s “eleventh hour” projects I simultaneously attended to were: speaking with and preparing agreements for producers and attorneys to cover employment for our musicians; advising local officers and members; meeting project deadlines; providing time sensitive information to our counsel; and conducting research for the next round of recording agreement negotiations.

I owe my ability to juggle a wide variety of projects and multitasking to many years of experience working with former EMSD Director and mentor Dick Gabriel. There was no one better than Dick at evaluating multiple tasks and devoting the time necessary to see to it that all aspects of a given project were given the attention required. Not all of them came to fruition, but many of them did.

I have been with the AFM for 42 years, and the enthusiasm I feel from helping make our convention run smoothly and the satisfaction I experience from representing the interests of recording musicians never get old. And to accomplish them on these levels I can’t help but find it truly amazing.

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.