Tag Archives: music performance trust fund

Dan Beck

MPTF Trustee Dan Beck Finalist for National Award

Dan BeckMusic Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) Trustee Dan Beck is a finalist in the 2017 Octicon Focus on People Awards, which honor outstanding people with hearing loss. The national competition recognizes individuals who help to change perceptions of what it means to live with hearing loss. During a 45-year career in the music industry, Beck pioneered closed captioning to music videos, working with artists including Cyndi Lauper, Michael Jackson, Pearl Jam, and more. When he stepped down as president of V2 Records, he committed to raising awareness of hearing conservation. A board member of Hearing Education Awareness for Rockers (HEAR), Beck promotes hearing awareness in musicians and speaks about hearing health to educational, healthcare, and music industry organizations.

You can read about the other two finalists and vote for the winner at: www.Oticon.com/FOP. The winner will be announced in October.

MPTF Co-Sponsored Symphonic Jazz Orchestra Brings Concerts to Southern California

Symphonic Jazz Orchestra

Supported in part by the MPTF, Symphonic Jazz Orchestra (SJO), whose musicians are members of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA), celebrates its 15th Anniversary May 7.

The Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) co-sponsors hundreds of free live events annually that enrich communities across North America with the talents of inspiring professional musicians. Here we shine the light on one of our outstanding partners: Symphonic Jazz Orchestra (SJO).

SJO is a nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles and dedicated to symphonic jazz—the blending of the American language of jazz with European orchestral traditions. Its mission is to commission and perform new symphonic jazz works, and inspire and educate through its Music in the Schools residencies.

May 7, the SJO celebrates its 15th anniversary with a concert at Long Beach Carpenter Performing Arts Center as part of their Arts for Life concert series. The event will feature two world premieres—Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) member Alan Chan’s “Denali World” and Local 47 member Gordon Goodwin’s “Fantasia,” featuring saxophone soloist Eric Marienthal, also a member of Local 47.

Founded in 2002 by Music Director Mitch Glickman, the 67-member hybrid jazz/classical ensemble comprises Local 47 musicians and is a fusion of a symphony orchestra and a big band. The SJO has commissioned 10 new works and performed 25 world premieres at Southern California concerts. The orchestra has been joined by some of the world’s leading jazz soloists including George Duke, and Local 47 members Dave Grusin, Lee Ritenour, Ernie Watts, and The Yellowjackets. Composer and keyboardist Duke also served as the orchestra’s co-music director from 2004 to his passing in 2013.

In 2015, the SJO released its debut recording featuring two of its commissioned works, along with the piece that began the symphonic jazz genre, Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” The CD includes Ritenour’s “Symphonic Captain’s Journey” featuring guitarist Ritenour along with pianist Dave Grusin as soloists. Pianist and Local 47 member Bill Cunliffe is featured in “Rhapsody in Blue,” supported by drummer Peter Erskine of Local 47.

To honor George Duke, the SJO, along with support from the ASCAP Foundation created the George Duke Commissioning Competition in 2015. The national competition selects a composer to create a new symphonic jazz work for the orchestra to be performed in concert.

From its first concert in 2002, the SJO has presented free concerts in such venues as the Carpenter Performing Arts Center in Long Beach, Royce Hall in Los Angeles, Walt Disney Theater at CalArts, and the Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood. Throughout the SJO’s history, the MPTF has been a vital supporter of these concerts that serve students, families, and community members. For most of the audiences, these concerts marked their first jazz or orchestral experience.

In 2008, the SJO piloted a Music in the Schools residency in four classrooms. Today, the program is in 172 classrooms across 12 schools and four school districts in Los Angeles County, serving almost 4,000 students every week. The yearlong residencies for kindergarten through 5th grade students includes “Bach to Bebop,” where students compose and perform their own blues songs, “Families of the Orchestra” workshops, “Music of the World,” and “Playing the Bells.”

MPTF Events Showcase: The Chamber Music Society of Mississauga

By Dan Beck, Trustee Music Performance Trust Fund

Chamber Music Society of Mississauga

The target audience for the Artfull Wellness program is aging adults; people with developmental, intellectual, and/or physical disabilities ranging from mild to severe; and those with long-term illnesses.

The Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) co-sponsors hundreds of free live events annually that enrich municipalities across North America with the talents of inspiring professional musicians. It is the hard work and creative efforts of community organizations, working with AFM locals, that make these performances happen with the quality and care to make us proud. We hope to shine a light on some of our outstanding partners in the pages of the IM from time to time. This is the first installment of that series.

The Chamber Music Society of Mississauga (CMSM) is a charitable organization dedicated to presenting excellent live, small-group chamber music events that educate and inform. It strives to make these events truly enjoyable to young and old. This not-for-profit organization is located in the lakeside city of Mississauga, Ontario, a vibrant city in the Toronto metropolitan area.

CMSM seeks to inspire a love and appreciation for music and the arts in the community, especially among school-age children and their families. The organization also nurtures talent by providing enriching opportunities for professional and community musicians to perform new chamber music repertoire, and by presenting the talent of local people from other artistic disciplines.

Committed to creating a rich cultural community in Mississauga and surrounding areas, CMSM inspires musicians and artists from diverse cultural backgrounds to come together to explore and develop their talent. This means providing an opportunity and a venue for new artists.
It also means offering cultural performance programs that stimulate and intrigue new audiences to seek further classical chamber music experiences.

The organization strives to be the key art-in-education resource in the community—for schools, libraries, and children’s festivals. The organization is a valuable resource to the community’s teachers.

Chamber Music Society of Mississauga

The Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) and the Chamber Music Society of Mississauga (CMSM) collaborated on 34 performances as part of their new Artfull Wellness program for seniors and other health-challenged individuals.

This past year, the MPTF and the CMSM collaborated on 34 performances as part of their new “Artfull Wellness” program, held primarily at retirement homes and libraries. The target populations for the program are aging adults, some with dementia; people with developmental, intellectual, and/or physical disabilities ranging from mild to severe; and those with long-term illnesses. These programs are guided by the Canadian Association for Music Therapy’s standards and practices. In addition to MPTF funding, these programs receive financial support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Community Foundation of Mississauga.

Professional musicians involved in the program begin by preparing specific repertoire. Working with a registered music therapist, they design unique programs and activities that utilize common rhythm instruments. There are opportunities, not only for the audience to enjoy the aesthetic beauty of live classical music, but also to express themselves, move, play, socialize, and relax.

Few healthcare settings have the resources to independently provide a program of this calibre. Few residents, clients, and staff members have ever been this close to orchestral instruments. For some people in healthcare settings, traveling to a concert hall can be daunting due to transportation, cost, and wheelchair seating restrictions. At Artfull Wellness events, there is generally no stage and no curtain, just people invested in the common purpose of making music together, engaged and involved in their fine arts community.

The MPTF celebrates the good work of the Chamber Music Society of Mississauga and the musicians from AFM Local 149 (Toronto, ON) who make this program so very special. If you would like to learn more about Artfull Wellness and the CMSM, visit the website: www.chambermusicmississauga.org.

dan beck

MPTF – By the Numbers!

dan beckby Dan Beck, Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) Trustee

Members of the AFM recognize the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) as a long-time source of supplemental income for performances that are free to the public. Generally, those who are familiar with the trust fund know that these performances happen in parks and public places, schools, hospitals, and senior centers.

With the MPTF’s upgraded grant management system, it is now easier for us to know more about our programs. Having these capabilities can help us better articulate what it is we do and how it benefits communities, as well as professional musicians.

Over the summer of 2016, the MPTF co-sponsored nearly 1,000 free, live music events. There was a wide range of publicly accessed venues, including parks, city squares, shopping malls, theaters, block parties, and arts festivals. We participated in patriotic observances on Flag Day, Memorial Day, and July 4th. Our reach also extended to libraries, health facilities, senior centers, houses of worship, community centers, and schools. Thus far this fiscal year, the conservative estimate for total attendance at 958 events is more than 1.3 million.

This year, we began asking applicants to provide a low and high estimate of the attendance they expected at these various events. We urge everyone to provide us with realistic estimates, as it is not just the number of people who enjoy these performances, but also the personal experience these performances provide each listener. Here are some numbers to further appreciate the work of the MPTF:

We participated in 112 educational programs since May 1. The average grant was approximately $540. The estimated attendance at these events ranged from 167 to 315, on the high end. More programs are scheduled throughout the school year.

Our senior citizen events, presented under the umbrella of MusicianFest, total 290 of the 500-plus we have in the works. Estimated attendance at these events averages between 57 and 117. We project the total attendance to be well over 20,000 seniors. The average cost per date is under $220. The other 65 senior events the MPTF has co-sponsored have average attendance ranging from 85 to 145 per event, at a cost averaging $260 each. Our health facility dates were even more cost effective, averaging under $100 each, and enjoyed by an estimate of between 80 and 157 people. Our schools, medical centers, and senior centers events are more intimate musical experiences for these special audiences.

However, many of the MPTF’s events are larger community affairs. More than 100 arts festival performances this summer averaged in the low range of 295 to a high of 1,260 music lovers. Additionally, the park events we help bring to cities and towns averaged between 2,500 and 4,000 people for the nearly 500 performances we supported.

Through all the struggles the MPTF has faced over the past two decades, the important work of bringing free, live music events to the public is still moving hearts and impacting the quality of life in communities throughout North America.

Music Performance Trust Fund

MPTF 2015-16: A Year of Steady Progress

by Dan Beck, Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) Trustee

Although the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) fiscal year ended April 30, the validated details from our auditors often take several months to process. While we anticipate the imminent release of the final audit report, I am eager to provide an overview of how the 2015-2016 year fared.

dan beckThe MPTF co-sponsored 2,331 free, live musical events in the 12-months from May 1, 2015 through April 30, 2016. A total of $693,007 was provided to pay musicians to perform these important community events in parks, schools, senior centers, and other public venues. This represented roughly a 35% increase in events and nearly $200,000 in support of musicians’ livelihoods.

The increases were due to a few factors. For one, our accounting process is on a cash basis. Therefore, the grant expenditure is based upon when payment was made, rather than when the event was actually held. Although our support for events and our budget are generally similar from year-to-year, the
accounting process can give it a more dramatic appearance.

The biggest factor in the events increase was the introduction of our senior center initiative, MusicianFest. We completed 628 performances throughout the US and Canada. The cost of these events was slightly more than $100,000. However, this was largely covered by a grant for $100,000 by the Film Funds, which is included in our total grant expenditure. We are currently implementing a second year of MusicianFest with another $100,000 grant from the Film Funds. Although these are small events with one or two musicians, MusicianFest provides us the opportunity to extend our reach with grants in smaller cities, states, and provinces, while still helping in major metropolitan areas.

Despite the fact that it is increasingly difficult to cut costs from a lean operation, we were able to reduce costs another 6%. We are now performing our services for about $250,000 less each year, than when I arrived at the trust fund. The savings have come with simply finding inefficiencies and has had almost no effect on our day-to-day operations. In fact, with an enormous effort from our staff, we have now fully implemented our online grant management system, which is an important factor in our cost savings.

Next month, I will provide some further insight into new statistical information about the events we support, due to the capabilities of this new system. Our grant managers have worked to help AFM local administrators learn the application process. In addition, they have worked with our software provider, Foundant Technologies, to make the applications easier to complete. Grant Management Director Vidrey Blackburn and Manager Samantha Ramos are always there to help!

While the day-to-day functions of the MPTF to achieve our goals are going extremely well, we continue to face the challenge of being funded almost entirely by royalties from physical products such as CDs, vinyl, and cassette. The trust fund has operated for many years at a deficit. We are now reaching a point where that deficit is running at approximately $500,000 each year. With assets now just under $4 million, it will only take three years to match the low asset level of $2.5 million that the MPTF reached in 2012. As we begin to prepare our budget plans for the 2017-2018 fiscal year starting May 1, the depletion of assets and the upcoming renewal of the trust agreement will weigh heavily on our plans for the future.

In the meantime, the MPTF is dedicated to continuing our day-to-day commitment to provide grants to pay thousands of musicians for live music performances available across North America. 

dan beck

MPTF’s 2016-2017 Year Off to a Fast Start

dan beckby Dan Beck, Trustee, Music Performance Trust Fund

The Recording Industry’s Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) began its 2016-17 fiscal year May 1. The usually busy summer months of live music events, free to the public, are a tradition extending back 68 years since the MPTF was founded in 1948. The Trust Fund’s work is to enrich communities with music culture and entertainment, while providing valuable supplemental income to professional musicians across North America.

This year, we are committed to maintain our primary grant budget at the $500,000 level. Revenues have declined unabated for the past two decades, since they are based almost entirely on the sale of physical product (CDs and vinyl). However, it is our desire to support as many ongoing events as possible, due to their importance to local communities throughout the US and Canada.

The MPTF continues to focus on co-funding programs at hospitals, schools, senior centers, parks, and public locations, where free musical events educate, influence, and impact quality of life. Through nearly seven decades, the organization has provided tens of millions of dollars to enhance inspired community programs featuring the best musical talent.

The upgraded grant management system now in place continues to provide cost savings, quality control, and improved capabilities. The MPTF staff has worked with program developers to simplify the process, including reducing the need for repetitive input. Our grant managers will be attending the AFM’s 100th Convention to demonstrate the system and answer questions on how best to use it. We invite you to visit us at our booth in Las Vegas in June!

Despite the declining revenue, the MPTF implemented a new senior center initiative this past year called MusicianFest. Thanks to a grant from The Film Funds, we were able to initiate more than 600 free senior center performances in the US and Canada. The National Council on Aging’s National Institute of Senior Centers oversees the request applications from senior centers across the country. The MPTF then solicits AFM locals for their ability to fulfill those requests and provides the funding to pay the musicians. This year a budget of $100,000 has been established, above the regular Trust Fund grant budget allocation, to make this program work.

While the grant levels are a challenge and a draw on the MPTF’s reserves, we have continued to reduce overhead costs every year. Those efforts, and their impact, can only last for a limited time before more radical efforts will be required to maintain the Trust Fund’s involvement in supporting live music and the musicians who perform it.

While our grants support a wide range of citizenry, they are most felt by professional musicians. The value of the MPTF to musicians themselves will ultimately determine the future of our efforts.   

event grant

MPTF Staff Is Ready to Serve Applicants for an Event Grant

event grant

(L to R) MPTF Staff: Trustee Dan Beck, Grant Management Director Vidrey Blackburn, Grant Management Manager Samantha Ramos, and Finance Director Al Elvin.

The Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) provides grants to co-sponsor free live music events for the public, while ensuring that professional musicians are compensated fairly. However, the process of applying for an event grant may seem daunting to organizations producing community-based events, as well as to the musicians who perform for them. MPTF staff is ready and available to help make the process easier.

The day-to-day fielding and processing of applications and assisting applicants is in the capable hands of Grant Management Director Vidrey Blackburn and Grant Management Manager Samantha Ramos. Blackburn is celebrating 30 years with the MPTF. She holds a deep commitment to the goals of supporting high quality events, while making the grant application process as user-friendly as possible.

Reflecting on her experiences, Blackburn says she often puts herself in the place of grant petitioners.  “It is not always easy for them. It’s important to help them through the process because we have changed our operations model many times over the years,” she says.

Ramos has been with the MPTF for 17 years. She shares in the grant application review process, and was instrumental in the MPTF’s transition to a new online grant application management system. “We are here to help everyone through the application process,” says Ramos. “We have worked hard to make the new system as user-friendly as possible, and we continue to collaborate with the software company to find more ways of improving it.”

One of the responsibilities of the MPTF is to spread grants as equitably as possible across North America, while making sure the co-sponsored events are of the highest quality in each community.  This, along with the economic pressures affecting the music industry, has made the grant fielding job of the MPTF all the more difficult.

While Blackburn and Ramos handle the applications and field questions about MPTF grants, Finance Director Al Elvin handles the day-to-day management of royalty receipts, operational costs, and investments—all the financial reporting. MPTF Trustee Dan Beck oversees the grants and operational issues, while he explores possible avenues to sustain the fund and maximize its value and impact at the community level, and as an industry institution.

Blackburn recalls learning patience and care, and how to build trusted relationships, from former MPTF General Manager Nick Cutrone. “I sat by his desk and I enjoyed listening to how he spoke to the musicians and the locals,” she says. Blackburn encourages applicants to seek the grant team’s help. “If you don’t understand, call us at (212)391-3950. We will help. If we can walk you through it, it’s a win for everyone,” she says.

mptf music performance trust fund

MPTF Implements New Online Grant System

As of May 1, the  new Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) grant application management system will be fully operational. The online system has been  ramping up over the past several months in order to provide greater security, less maintenance, and a much more cost-effective process for providing funding for free live performances throughout the US and Canada.

mptf music performance trust fundCoinciding with the beginning of the MPTF’s fiscal year, grant applications will now only be accepted through the new system. No mailed, faxed, or e-mailed applications will be accepted. However, applicants and grant coordinators can seek assistance from MPTF through Vidrey Blackburn (vblackburn@musicpf.org) or Samantha Ramos (sramos@musicpf.org) by e-mail. They are happy to answer questions and provide guidance in using the new system.

This past November, every local was sent an e-mail and password for the new application management system. If your local representative coordinating MPTF grant applications does not know the log in e-mail address and password, please contact us.

As the MPTF closes its books for the fiscal year (May 1, 2014 through April 30, 2015), all “Page 2” submissions to verify the completion of performances must be submitted by May 8. Any late submissions of Page 2s for this past year, received after May 8, will be canceled. Again, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact MPTF.

The staff at the MPTF is taking every precaution to integrate this new system as comfortably and as easily as possible. They hope to continue to improve the new system as everyone becomes more familiar and experienced with the process.

The Music Performance Trust Fund — Get the Picture!

MPTFby Dan Beck, Trustee, Music Performance Trust Fund

If you have ever heard me speak about the mission of the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF), you might remember that I invariably request photos, whenever possible, from the events that we co-sponsor. I am sure that, on the surface, it sounds quaint and nice that the MPTF wants to have a collection of memories or that we are looking for some added proof that the event actually happened.

Continue reading

MPTF Gears Up to Build Success Through Momentum in 2015

by Dan Beck, Trustee, Music Performance Trust Fund

The Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) begins the new calendar year with continued awareness that we clearly share the same challenges that the rest of the creative music community faces. We pursue these challenges with new goals to maximize the opportunities that are available. Our mission remains to provide supplemental work for professional musicians, and at the same time, provide meaningful and inspiring free performances that culturally benefit people in towns and cities across North America.

As there remains constant pressure on our revenue, we have dedicated our efforts to reduce our costs, create efficiencies, and search for new avenues of support that improve and positively impact our ability to provide music performance grants. Over the past year, we have been developing a new grant management software system that will save overhead costs, provide greater insights and grant history information, and ultimately create an easier process for everyone involved. However, it requires some learning and repetitive input that we are confident our software provider will improve over time. Everyone using the system will discover improvements that have already been implemented.

Many of the performances we co-sponsor are perennial events. Traditional annual 4th of July concerts, a kick-off for an opera season, and the celebration of the music of Broadway, highlight the more than 2,100 musical partnerships that we shared in our past fiscal year. Our highest priority is to protect these traditional events that mean so much to the vibrancy of local culture.

We recognize that live music has an even deeper meaning beyond entertainment. The MPTF is dedicated to the fundamental importance of music education. Connecting professional musicians to school programs inspires cultural fiber, while it illuminates possibilities for students. It stimulates generational interaction and validates a commitment to excellence and cultural values.

As we partner with school programs, educators, and local musicians, we are reaching out to other like-minded organizations to find new strength for our efforts, not only in the search for increased resources, but for the potential impact of natural synergies. What could be more fulfilling than to work together to inspire young people to appreciate, enjoy, and participate in a musical experience?

Similarly, we are dedicated to the enormous value of musical performances to our older populous. Research demonstrates the emotional and cognitive benefits that a musical performance can provide to a small audience in an assisted living facility. I have heard countless stories from musicians who were humbled by the power of their performances to reach through isolation and bring renewed joy and life in these settings.

This important musical outreach needs to be advocated and deserves enthusiastic leadership. We hope to shoulder more of that responsibility. We are finding the support to dramatically expand our efforts in this critical area as well. I expect the MPTF to be able to offer new support through additional restricted grants in the near future.

Whether it is a big orchestral performance or a small solo event that we support, we do want something in return for our grants. We know that we inevitably get musical excellence and passionate art. That remains a very unique outcome of our grants!

Our challenge is to get the most from our co-sponsors in attracting an audience, impacting the community, spreading media awareness, and giving us the tools to expand the word about the value of these events. As the old adage goes, if a tree falls in the forest, does anyone hear it? If a musician performs brilliantly with free-access for all, what effort was made to assure there was the largest possible audience? What effort was made afterwards to make sure as many people as possible knew this event happened? When the good is promoted, greater support is possible. Leadership is about creating this momentum; momentum builds success.

We know the New Year comes with challenges. However, we look to 2015 with hope and optimism. That hope and optimism is guided by the confidence that we are committed to the work it takes to make our grants effective at the highest level possible. We look forward to sharing that challenge with the musicians and local organizations who partner with us in the year ahead. Let’s build some momentum together … and success will find us.