Tag Archives: mptf

Build Audiences with MPTF— Musicians Will Beat a Path to Your Door

As previously reported, new streaming and licensing revenue from the sound recording industry via the Federation’s 2017 Sound Recording Labor Agreement (SRLA), has infused new money into the AFM-EP Fund and has revitalized both the Sound Recording Special Payments Fund (SPF) and the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF). MPTF, throughout its more than 70-year history, has worked closely with officers and staff of AFM locals to co-sponsor thousands of live, admission-free musical performances each year throughout the United States and Canada.

MPTF was nearly out of money in 2016 and was forced to plan for the unwinding of its operations and the eventual cessation of business, pending the outcome of our negotiations with the labels. The problem was the changing trends in music consumption. From its inception in 1944 in settlement of a strike with the record labels, MPTF revenue was derived from a small royalty on sales of physical product, such as vinyl records, cassette tapes, and compact discs. Today, with 90% of label revenue attributable to streaming, MPTF and SPF would be out of business without streaming royalties to replace and reverse the decline in revenue from physical product.

Here is the good news: By the March 31, 2020 close of its current fiscal year, MPTF will have provided over $1 million in co-sponsorship funding during that 12-month period, compared to less than $500,000 in funding during the 2016 period. MPTF Trustee Dan Beck has advised that the April 2020 funding allocations will continue to rise due to the growth of streaming revenue.

The favorable developments concerning future MPTF funding underscore the need for locals and their members to work together to develop popular, successful performance programs that will benefit your community and generate new employment. Dynamic and diverse programs will build appreciative audiences, and promote recognition for MPTF, the Federation, our locals and our members year after year. A great local MPTF program works wonders for membership recruitment and retention.

Legendary jazz drummer and University of North Texas Professor of Music Ed Soph leads an MPTF project performance in Denton, Texas, at the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival. He was accompanied by UNT jazz faculty colleagues Mike Steinel, trumpet, and Rosana Eckert, vocals. All are members of Local 72-147 (Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas).

A well-rounded local MPTF program is built by fostering a variety of constructive, enduring relationships with producers of admission-free public events and with schedulers of entertainment for institutional purposes, such as hospitals and assisted living centers. Local community-based institutions, arts and civic organizations, neighborhood associations and entities that manage entertainment events and recreational programs for city parks, indoor and outdoor shopping malls, and suburban town squares, are always on the lookout for dependable partners that can provide first-rate talent for events that will promote goodwill for their venues.

How can you identify potential MPTF co-sponsors in your area? Your local city, county, and state arts councils are a good place to start. Arts councils, many funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, provide foundational support for community-based arts organizations, including some that may offer admission-free programs of professional musical performances.

A big buzzword in the arts council world is “collaboration.” The prospect of access to MPTF funding could encourage arts council officials to promote partnerships with locals and community affiliates for the presentation of public musical performances.

Visit with your area shopping malls, neighborhood associations, shop owner “main street” associations, and city parks and recreation departments. Invariably, there is someone employed by those organizations to create free entertainment programs for the enjoyment of patrons and citizens of their communities. Find out who selects the musical offerings for those programs and contact them to pitch the obvious benefit of MPTF co-funding and local union talent. Any program coordinator juggling an entertainment budget will listen intently when it dawns on them that not only can you deliver first-rate talent, you’ll also help them pay for it.

Another area of interest is the promotion of MPTF-funded programs of musical performances by professional musicians in public schools. A programming opportunity may arise if an established ensemble of professional musicians seeks to partner with a public school system to present concerts for elementary, middle school, and high school students in the public schools. MPTF can help where public school budgets have limited or no money for such programs and, particularly, where music department directors and school superintendents understand the educational benefit of enabling students to see and hear musical performances presented by outstanding professional musicians. In-school concerts by suburban symphony orchestras, jazz ensembles and big bands, and other musical styles are another creative way to introduce the community to the advantages of MPTF co-sponsorship.

Community leaders are always seeking recognition. They receive it by sponsoring and promoting public events where families can come together and enjoy good music in a community setting—the park, the town square, the mall, the neighborhood, the school auditorium. Not only do we perform the music, but, through MPTF, we can help our communities afford it.

Go out into your communities and look for opportunities to apply the MPTF advantage. Build a balanced performance program by establishing productive institutional, community-based, and business-related partnerships to bring fine musical performances to an appreciative public. Build a program that builds audiences, and every musician in town—and your community—will beat a path to your door.

Legendary jazz drummer and University of North Texas Professor of Music Ed Soph leads an MPTF project performance in Denton, Texas, at the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival. He was accompanied by UNT jazz faculty colleagues Mike Steinel, trumpet, and Rosana Eckert, vocals. All are members of Local 72-147 (Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas).


MPTF Pledges $200,000 to Present More Than 1,000 Free, Live and Age-Friendly Musical Performances for Older Adults

Jamie Shaheen of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) recently performed with community members at a MusicianFest event at the Long Beach Senior Center.

The recording industry’s Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) announced Sept. 3 the fund has doubled the number of live MusicianFest performances they will support in senior centers throughout the US and Canada this year. The fund will invest more than $200,000 in over 1,000 events, which will be coordinated and implemented by local AFM offices.

Aligned with September’s National Senior Center Month, MusicianFest events and film, MusicianFest: Never Too Old, will promote awareness of and access to free musical performances serving vulnerable populations such as those who are homeless or have disabilities. As the older adult population grows, communities recognize they must offer creative, age-friendly activities in safe environments to help them remain active and maintain connections in their communities.

“Live music stimulates our emotions and gets people up and moving, reconnecting with joyful memories and interacting with each other,” says Dan Beck, the MPTF trustee. “The enthusiasm we experience when bringing together professional musicians with older populations has only fueled our desire to preserve and grow MusicianFest.”

The documentary, MusicianFest: Never Too Old, spotlights the experience live music creates as older adults come together at senior centers in New York City, Long Beach, and New Orleans.

Available as a free community resource on the trust’s website, the 27-minute film explores the paths that led the featured musicians to perform for older audiences. Senior center directors provide perspectives of the impact these shows have on the well-being of those they serve, and the need for quality lifestyle programming for older adults.

The film highlights how music draws seniors together who might not otherwise feel comfortable sharing their issues with others. “At least 40% of our population is homeless or semi-homeless,” says Elyse Nordholm Garcia, director of the Long Beach Senior Center in Long Beach, California. “They come here, relax, and escape into the entertainment, then we get to know what’s happening in their lives.”

reginal folk festival

An MPTF Featured Live Event: The Regina Folk Festival

reginal folk festival
This year marked the 50th anniversary of the Regina Folk Festival in Regina, Saskatchewan. The Regina Folk Festival’s objective is to preserve and promote the folk arts in its traditional and modern definitions, and to educate the people of Regina as to folk traditions in the arts upon which their lifestyles are based.

Thanks to renewed resources, an important and enduring community event—The Regina Folk Festival in Regina, Saskatchewan—has become a recipient of Music Performance Trust Fund grants in recent years. The connection came through the coordinated efforts of Local 446 (Regina, SK), the Festival’s leadership, and AFM International Representative Allistair Elliott.

regina folk festival

This year marked the 50th anniversary of the two-day, three-night festival that is usually held the second week of August. After various venue changes through the years, Victoria Park has been its home for more than two decades. The MPTF sponsorship supports the free daytime musical events, while ticketing offsets much of the cost for the evening performances.

Similar to many community cultural events, the Regina Folk Festival attracts numerous vendors, as well as providing payments for the professional musicians who perform. The festival attracted 45,000 people this year. The efforts to produce the festivities is facilitated by a small staff, their board members, and approximately 650 volunteers, all under the Artistic Direction of Festival CEO Sandra Butel.

“The festival is one of the highlights of the summer and we’re proud to host an inclusive and diverse event that offers something for all ages and interests,” Butel says.

regina folk festival

The Regina Folk Festival’s objective is to preserve and promote the folk arts in its traditional and modern definitions, and to educate the people of Regina as to folk traditions in the arts upon which their lifestyles are based. Special attention is given to create child-specific entertainment and activities with a dedicated children’s area and stage.

The MPTF is pleased to be a supporter of the Regina community, the musicians of Saskatchewan, and the Regina Folk Festival. Congratulations on using music professionals and the arts to enhance life in Saskatchewan for 50 years!

Dan Beck

MPTF – A Year of Change

Dan Beck

by Dan Beck, trustee, Music Performance Trust Fund

After two decades of decline, the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) has reached the beginning of a new era of recovery and sustainability. The impact of the most recent labor agreement, between the major labels and the AFM, surfaced just weeks prior to the May 1, 2018 start of the 2018-2019 fiscal year. This provided the opportunity to expand our overall grant initiative and stabilize the trust’s operational base after so many years of deterioration.

Overall grant distribution grew more than 25% from $671,000 in the 2017-2018 campaign to $848,000 this past year. Total events funded also expanded from 1,846 to 2,161.

Our senior center events stayed steady at just more than 500 for the year and our community events maintained at more than 1,000 events. The significant area of growth occurred with our educational outreach. A special initiative to create new school programs was a huge success with the schedule nearly doubling from 251 to 477. This is a dramatic return to the traditional support the MPTF has provided in bringing music into the schools. Even with the significant number of AFM members who are educators, the efforts made by locals throughout the US and Canada was beyond our expectations.

One of our goals is to regrow and expand the geographic distribution of our grants. To that end, 11 locals that had previously not received our grants in several years came back on-board, bringing the total to 105 union locals served by our funding. Our objective is to continue this reconnection to more regions throughout North America.

As our grant budgets continue to grow in 2019-2020, our focus is to expand community events. Leveraging MPTF funds, while partnering with other community organizations and local government, can create positive economic and social change, not just for musicians, but for all. Music matters, and music has the power to create positive energy and growth through festivals and arts programs to engage neighborhoods and municipalities.

We look forward to exploring these new challenges in the coming months. For those attending the AFM Convention in Las Vegas, the MPTF staff will be on hand to discuss ideas and help identify opportunities to put our grant funds to work.

never too old

New Orleans MPTF Holds “Never Too Old” Screening with Union Members

never too old
Executives and AFM Local 174-496 musicians featured in the film Never Too Old attended the screening at Harmony House Senior Center in Tremé. Pictured from left are Norman Smith, executive director, Harmony House Senior Center; Dan Beck, trustee, Music Performance Trust Fund; musicians Louis Ford, David Batiste, Al “Carnival Time” Johnson, Kerry Lewis, Mayumi Shara, Kat Walker, Frank Mayes, and Gina Forsyth; Cindy Hayes, secretary-treasurer, Local 174-496. Deacon John Moore, president, Local 174-496 (center) also attended. 

The New Orleans premiere of the recording industry’s Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF)’s uplifting documentary, Never Too Old, took place April 2, at Harmony House Senior Center in Tremé; more than 100 older adults attended. Popular NOLA musicians (members of Local 174-496), several of whom were featured prominently in the film, were on hand for live performances.

never too old
Harmony House Senior Center is featured prominently in the documentary, which was filmed in senior centers around the country in New York City, New Orleans, and the Los Angeles area. Here, an event guest watches the film as it depicts the ways free, live music performances increase community and reduce isolation in older adults.

The 27-minute documentary highlights the MPTF’s MusicianFest initiative to provide free musical performances at senior centers and assisted living facilities in the US and Canada. Never Too Old explores the many paths that led these musicians—sometimes seniors themselves—to perform for older audiences. Audience members share their impressions about what these live music performances mean to them. Senior center professionals give their perspectives of the impact these small performances have on the physical, mental, and social well-being of the individuals they serve.

The film provides more evidence that experiencing live music together positively impacts the health and well-being—and reduces the isolation—of older adults, according to MPTF Trustee Dan Beck.

never too old
More than 100 older adults came from Pontchartrain Park and Tremé to watch the film and dance to music by Louis Ford, David Batiste, and other musicians from Local 174-496.

The official release of the film was March 19 in New York City and the first screening was at VISIONS Center on Aging, also in New York.

The film is available for free at musicpf.org, with closed captioning and audio description captioning for the hearing and visually impaired. For more information about the film and its impact, visit https://musicpf.org/never2oldmusicfilm.

never too old

MPTF Releases MusicianFest Documentary, “Never Too Old”

In March, the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) launched an uplifting documentary, Never Too Old. The film spotlights the experience live music performances create for performing musicians and their audiences as they come together at three senior centers located in New York City, New Orleans, and the Los Angeles area. The official release of the film was March 19 in New York City and the first screening was at VISIONS Center on Aging, also in New York.

The 27-minute documentary highlights the MPTF’s MusicianFest initiative to provide free musical performances at senior centers and assisted living facilities in the US and Canada. Never Too Old explores the many paths that led these musicians, sometimes  seniors themselves, to perform for the older audiences. Audience members share their impressions about what these live music performances mean to them. Senior center professionals give their perspectives of the impact these small performances have on the physical, mental, and social wellbeing of the individuals they serve.

“Live music’s impact on the lives of seniors is truly immeasurable,” states MPTF Trustee Dan Beck. “These performances stimulate our emotions and get people to interact with each other, to get up and move, and to reconnect with joyful memories.”

never too old
The documentary Never Too Old premiered in New York City at VISIONS Center for Aging March 19. Filmed with musicians and older adults in NYC, New Orleans, and Los Angeles, the film was produced by the Recording Industry’s Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) and explores ways that sharing free music performances improves the daily lives of underserved seniors in centers for aging in North America. Music industry leaders, musicians and older adults got together for a red carpet event to shine a spotlight on how live music helps to reduce loneliness and increase a sense of community for seniors. (L to R) are: John Diorio, VISIONS Center for Aging; Roxsonne “Rocky” Simms, Case Worker, VISIONS (seated); MPTF Trustee Dan Beck; Local 802 (New York City) members Robert Frank and Roberta Fabiano.

“The state has cut funding for our senior centers,” explains Harmony House Senior Center Executive Director Norman Smith. “For these individuals to want to take their time to come here, it’s important to us. It makes us feel that someone cares. We care about them and they care about us. I think it’s a plus-plus for all of us.” Harmony House Senior Center in New Orleans, Louisiana, evolved from an abandoned firehouse after Hurricane Katrina, to become a central gathering place in the city’s Treme section.

Elyse Nordholm Garcia, senior center director at Long Beach Senior Center in California, adds, “At least 40% of our population is homeless or semi-homeless. They come here and they can relax and escape into the entertainment. Then we get to know what’s going on in their lives and if we can help them with services.”

Never Too Old is available in multiple lengths. In addition to the full 27-minute version, a 10-minute version provides the essence of these messages while focusing on the reach and goals of MusicianFest. MPTF will provide an abridged version to AFM locals for use on their websites and in meetings in their communities.

You can view the full film on the website musicpf.org/never2oldmusicfilm. For more information on arranging a film screening or organizing a MusicianFest performance in your local’s community, call MPTF at 212-391-3950.


Accelerating the MPTF Mission for 2019

Dan Beck

by Dan Beck, Trustee Music Performance Trust Fund

The new year presents an opportunity for AFM locals and the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) to begin to regrow our programs across North America and increase our impact on communities. We are in a position to expand our support to performing musicians who influence the cultural fiber that is so vital in every community.

The Trust Fund has survived two decades of slow and painful decreases to our annual grant budgets. Many locals that once actively participated in creating MPTF events now have new leadership that has never experienced our resources. While many locals have continued to enjoy our allocations, many are now relearning about opportunities that are readily available. 

Musicians bring music and music experiences to students through the Music Performance Trust Fund’s Educational Initiative program.

The MPTF is adjusting to the new avenue of revenue growth made possible through streaming royalties. We can now collaborate with AFM membership to create new, dynamic events. These events are a source of supplemental income for musicians. They also stimulate the impact of the AFM, its members, as well as the MPTF, upon the social fiber of the arts in cities and towns across the US and Canada. 


We have begun to get aggressive in our efforts to put more funding on the streets. Along with continuing to fund current educational programs at 50%, we have offered 100% funding for new, creative, need-based school programs. With this special allocation, we hope to emphasize and prioritize locals who have not been recent MPTF recipients. Although we originally budgeted this additional fund to the tune of $100,000 for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, we are happy to report we have now extended it to $150,000. 

We have also raised our participation level to 50% across the board for all other events, including parks, festivals, and other free public events. We believe this level of commitment will provide greater leverage to stimulate proactive involvement from local community sponsors. 

Some locals wish to maintain our 30% commitments where local sponsors are already assured. This will help those locals stretch their MPTF allocations most effectively. Additionally, the MPTF has recently offered increased support for new Jazz Appreciation Month events for this coming April. This is on a first come, first serve basis.

The key to our growth is not simply opening up the faucet. We want to expand the use of our funds to create the best quality new programs possible. If our funds seed more participation from other organizations for higher profile events, then everyone wins.


We encourage you to send in photos that demonstrate the impact of MPTF events. When people are informed and see high quality events, new impetus and participation can happen. We have new momentum. Leverage our help to engage your community.   

Interested in seeking MPTF help with your community-based project?

The easiest way to apply for a grant is to seek the assistance of an officer or representative from the AFM local in your geographic area. They are often experienced in the Music Performance Trust Fund application process and can also be helpful in planning and organizing your event. 

For more information about the Music Performance Trust Fund visit our website: musicpf.org.


Five Years of Challenging, Rewarding Work—MPTF

Dan Beckby Dan Beck, Trustee Music Performance Trust Fund

In June of this year, I celebrated my fifth anniversary as trustee of the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF). The time has passed remarkably fast!

When the recording industry’s oversight committee approached me to consider taking the trustee position, I had virtually no knowledge of the trust fund or its initiatives. However, I quickly learned that providing supplemental employment to professional musicians, even in a small way, could impact local communities. The idea of supporting free live performances in parks and public areas, in schools, senior centers, and assisted living facilities spoke to me. Music moves our souls. It unites us. It inspires. It motivates us. The musical arts provide critical nourishment to our humanity.

New Funds Bring Hope

With all the basic goodness that the concept of the MPTF had to offer, there had been years of lament that its days were numbered. The truth was that there had been a 20-year walk-down from the golden era of MPTF grants that reached many a musician’s pockets. That steady free fall began to become more and more accepted as an inevitable tragedy. Fortunately, that was not an acceptable conclusion, and the AFM and the recording industry achieved a labor agreement that has brought a viable path for the MPTF to survive and even grow. Yes, there is a future.

However, the challenge is not just to get our grants. The challenge is to make the most of them! How does it impact your community? How does it create a greater awareness of the importance of the arts? How does it inspire others to get involved? How does the success of one event open the door to more support for the arts in your town? How can you use it as leverage to find more support for live music? How can our funding be leveraged to find new community partners who understand how powerfully live music can change communities? Our hope is that MPTF grants serve as seeds to create activism.

Share Your MPTF Events

We now have more funds to stimulate musical action. It is not the be-all and end-all, but it is a new trajectory. Yes, let’s entertain! Let’s put some extra dollars into some talented, hardworking, and deserving musicians’ pockets! And let’s use those precious funds to grow momentum and community leverage, one event at a time. Use social media. Involve the local newspaper. Invite other leaders from your communities to enjoy the free performance we provide.

The best thank you that we could receive for our grants is to see how they impact your communities. Send us pictures! Show us—not just the musicians performing—but the faces of those who are enjoying it. Show us the crowds, whether it’s 10 people or 100.

Let’s make beautiful noise together!

mptf advantage

The MPTF Advantage: Employment, Audience Building, Recognition

The Federation’s recently concluded Sound Recording Labor Agreement (SRLA) has brought new life to both the Sound Recording Special Payments Fund (SPF) and the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF), which are important residual components of that agreement. As music consumption transitioned to streaming, both funds experienced declining revenue due to the precipitous drop in royalties from physical recorded product (CDs, etc.) and digital downloads, which had been the sole sources of revenue for the funds. 

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MPTF Celebrates 70th Anniversary with Upbeat Outlook for Future

by Dan Beck, Music Performance Trust Fund Trustee

As the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) approaches its 70th anniversary, it is gratifying to report that we recently embarked upon a renewed level of sustainability. After weathering nearly two decades of music distribution disruption, and being entirely dependent upon royalties from the sale of outmoded physical products—CDs, tapes, and cassettes—the agreement reached last year between labor and industry has begun to bear fruit for the MPTF.  The trust fund is now benefitting from revenue streams more in-line with current consumer practices, including music streaming.

The challenges for both labor and industry over these past years to find the means to fund the MPTF have been enormous. The sea change in remonetizing music has only become clearer in the past two years. As trustee, I applaud and thank both parties for their continued belief in the MPTF’s value and also for their hard work to reinvent a viable revenue-generating structure to bring us into this millennium. Both parties acted upon our perilous circumstance in good faith and with the immediacy required. AFM President Ray Hair, the AFM International Executive Board, and the AFM team, as well as the officers of the MPTF’s Industry Oversight Committee, Andrea Finkelstein, James Harrington, and their colleagues, have come through for us. The opportunity for a solution only recently surfaced and they seized the critical moment to save the MPTF.

To our own peril, we have held the line of providing a minimum of $500,000 in our general grant allocations, even when the MPTF was rapidly drawing down our reserves to dangerous levels.  Our immediate focus is to secure our stability, rebuild our basic reserves, and assiduously expand our grant budgets.

For the first time in my tenure as trustee, we can reasonably project our revenues for the coming fiscal year. That confidence allows us to begin regrowing the impact of our core initiatives. Our plan is to increase our grant budget from $500,000 to $600,000 for the fiscal year beginning May 1. In addition, we will be adding another $100,000, specifically designated for new educational initiatives. Combined with support from The Film Funds for our MusicianFest senior program, we will be distributing more than $800,000 in the 2018-19 fiscal year, beginning May 1.

While the good news is heartily welcomed, let’s remember that we have a lot of ground to cover in North America. We are definitely not flush with the funds that were the hallmark of a bygone physical product era.

Our challenge ahead is to work hand-in-hand with the AFM to make the absolute most of the new funds we are able to distribute. Our immediate goal is expand our assistance to a number of the locals who fell outside of our ability to provide support for them over these past few years. At the same time, we want to create greater emphasis on music education and musician mentorship. That leadership is desperately needed, and who better to implement it than a Federation that proudly claims a membership that is nearly 40% educators! We are looking to you to share your inspiring ideas, talents, and experience with talented and aspiring musicians of tomorrow.

During these most financially challenging times, I am proud to say that the MPTF staff has worked diligently to significantly streamline our costs and build a cost-effective and efficient grant management system. We are positioned to grow again. We need your patience and we need your help to maximize the impact of our grants in your communities.

Although never a given, the long, downward spiral appears to be at an end. New grant growth is our goal. The MPTF staff will pursue that mission with enthusiasm, tempered with care and common sense. We look forward to sharing the results with the members of the American Federation of Musicians and their communities across North America.