Tag Archives: negotiate

CFM Negotiates with the Media Giants

The General Production Agreement negotiated between the CFM and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has been ratified with an overwhelming majority. As a response to requests by the members, modifications were made to once again identify underscore and theme music that would require reuse payments outside of the one-year window. Fees increased by nearly 5% and the revenue sharing aspect of Distributor’s Gross now includes licensing as well as sales.

And of equal importance, ratification indicates that we now have an up-to-date template to use as we prepare to negotiate a similar deal with Rogers Communications, Bell Media, and Corus Entertainment. During conversations with all three to determine dates to begin bargaining, it became apparent that there is an appetite among the three media giants to bargain simultaneously. To that end, the tentative timeline is sometime in February 2018.

Commercial Announcements Agreement

In the mix as well is the Commercial Announcements Agreement, as the Association of Canadian Advertisers (ACA) and the Institute of Communications Agencies (ICA) have returned to the table after a yearlong hiatus. Significant amendments are being considered with this contract since online advertising, once considered a small part of the industry, has become a significant part of productions. While fee increases and housekeeping are also on the table, major revisions are being contemplated because of massive shift in how jingles are now created. Fortunately, there is a desire on both sides to make the agreement more relative and user-friendly.

Consultations with independent producers have finally led to an upcoming meeting with the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA). While still in the early stages, it’s my hope that the result will be a Canadian agreement for independent production. I will report more on this in the near future.

NAFTA & TPP Update

Recent meetings of the Canadian Labour Conference confirmed that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) remain very serious concerns for organized labour in Canada. As reported previously, the CFM has been appointed to a NAFTA committee to provide input on certain aspects of the cultural sector. We have also made presentations during public consultations on the TPP, as the subject matter has similar concerns for musicians, specifically regarding temporary entry into Canada and copyright. We continue to push for what is fair, although it would appear at this juncture, that both those agreements are in peril.

As you may have surmised, we have a busy schedule coming up, both in finishing 2017 work and with projects that will take us well into next year. Major, first-time negotiations are on deck, and with lots of hard work and a little luck, there will be a significant increase in contracted media work.

I would like to wish all our members, officers, and staff a very Merry Christmas, as well as a safe, healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year.

big radio

Compromise or Catastrophe? SiriusXM Pre-72 Settlement Sells Out Creative Community

In a compromise, each party usually walks away with something they want and something they value. But when you are hampered by unfavorable Federal regulation, while fighting huge media conglomerates, compromise can lead to catastrophe. And you might not even know it until it’s over.

Case in point: late last year, a “compromise” settlement between weary recording artist litigants and satellite radio giant SiriusXM (with a market capitalization of more than $24 billion) set the stage for an economic catastrophe, which could impact the streaming income of America’s creators—our featured recording artists and the session musicians and vocalists who back them—for many years to come.

The backstory: using the “pre-1972” loophole in current copyright law, SiriusXM refused to pay legacy artists for the commercial use of their work. In response, two original members of the ’60s-’70s group The Turtles (known professionally as Flo and Eddie), initiated class action lawsuits in California, Florida, and New York.

While newer artists receive the benefit of clear protection (and royalties) under federal law, legacy artists are denied this protection for sound recordings made prior to February 15, 1972. Those recordings are protected by state law; so legacy artists must endure the hassle, expense, and uncertainty of state by state litigation to seek compensation for the use of their work. Artists and rights owners bear all of the costs and all of the risks in these lawsuits in countless state courts. And that’s what Flo and Eddie did.

Eventually, on the eve of the trial, SiriusXM agreed to settle the litigation. This may sound like a win, but it wasn’t. Granted, the legacy artists who were included in the case against SiriusXM will receive some compensation, but the trade-off was to agree to a prospective, going forward rate that radically undercuts the market and threatens the future value of music streaming for all artists, backup musicians, and vocalists.

In addition to a flat sum settlement for past uses, SiriusXM agreed to pay a pro rata share of 5.5% of its revenue to the artists prospectively. This is half of the 11% of revenue royalty rate that they are currently obligated to pay for federally protected sound recordings. What’s worse is that the 5.5% may drop even further in the wake of a recent decision by the New York Court of Appeals, and the outcome of other pending court proceedings.

In addition to the half-price royalty rate, SiriusXM was able to capitalize on artists’ lack of federal protection to extract a series of concessions, including an agreement to explicitly characterize the settlement as “market rate” and a clause forcing artists to agree to this “fire sale” royalty structure for 10 years into the future.

To make matters even worse, the settlement doesn’t do anything to actually solve the underlying problem of our broken copyright regime. It merely papers over the ongoing second-class treatment of legacy recording artists, musicians, and singers. It shortchanges them by paying only half, at most, of what should be required, and it risks the permanent devaluation of all digitally distributed music going forward. The fix is clear. We need to afford pre-1972 recordings the same federal protection that all other recordings enjoy.

In last year’s Congress, Representatives Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) attempted to fix this inequity. They introduced the Fair Play Fair Pay Act. This bipartisan legislation proposed real copyright reform and went a long way towards addressing these and other injustices in the realm of recorded music. If enacted, the Fair Play Fair Pay Act would have secured performance rights for all recording artists across every platform.

The efforts of Nadler and Blackburn must be continued. The shabby treatment toward recording artists and musicians must stop. The devaluation of America’s cultural heritage must end. All platforms should play by the same rules. Government subsidies afforded by our copyright policies to satellite and broadcast radio should be eliminated. Artists and musicians of all eras should be treated fairly when their music generates value. It’s time to treat legacy artists like the legends they are. Let’s pay all creators what they deserve—instead of forcing them to sell their futures for 50 cents on the dollar.

New TMA Leader Attends Pamphlet B and SET Negotiations

tony-damicoby Tony D’Amico, Theatre Musicians Association President and Member of Local 9-535 (Boston, MA) and Local 198-457 (Providence, RI)

The Theatre Musicians Association’s 21st annual conference was held mid-August in Washington, DC. At the end of the conference, I had the honor of being elected president of the Theatre Musicians Association (TMA). After serving 10 years as director of the Boston chapter, I couldn’t be more thrilled to step into this new role and serve this remarkable organization.

On behalf of all my fellow theatre musicians, I’d like to offer my thanks and congratulations to outgoing president, Tom Mendel of Local 10-208 (Chicago, IL), and Vice President Walter Usiatynski of Local 802 (New York City) for their inspired leadership these past years. They leave some very large shoes to fill.

One of my first duties as president was to attend a week of negotiations in New York City between the AFM and the Broadway League/Disney Theatrical Productions for a successor agreement to Pamphlet B and the Short Engagement Touring Theatrical Musicals Agreement (SET), which occurred in September. Along with the typical proposals for increased wages and per diem, we asked for an assortment of increases and improvements for our traveling musicians to recognize the value these players bring to the touring musical theatre productions they enhance.

Among the items we put across the table for both Pamphlet B and the SET Agreement were an increase in rehearsal rates, and a provision that would make all weekly contractual wages and premiums pensionable. Other issues of importance were electronic instrument premiums—to address technology being operated by drummers and guitarists—as well as wage increases, and travel and hotel concerns. 

In the SET agreement, we are seeking wage and rehearsal increases, as well as raises in vacation pay and pay for those who double or play more than one instrument in the pit. One pressing issue discussed regarded local keyboard substitutes hired by touring musical productions. These local keyboard players are called in to sub on increasingly difficult keyboard books, with no additional compensation for the huge amount of time they put in to prepare these books.

While we did not reach a deal in these September sessions, AFM President Ray Hair made a strong case for paying our musicians wages and benefits that correspond to the value they bring to these productions. We have excellent input from all the AFM representatives on our side of the table, with special recognition to AFM Touring/Theatre/Booking Division Director Michael Manley and Contract Administrator George Fiddler, and valuable contributions from Player Representatives Michael Epperhart of Local 802 and Joshua Priest of Locals 802 and 149 (Toronto, ON).

We meet again in November to continue our discussions. I’m confident that in the end we will emerge with a fair contract that provides the security and compensation that these hardworking musicians deserve.