Tag Archives: organizing

new use department looking for help

New Use Department Has a Cubicle for You

by Peter Marroquin, AFM EMSD West Coast Office, TV/Theatrical Film New Use

new use department looking for helpIt takes a special group of people to create an effective and productive New Use Department, and that includes you. I have been a part of the Motion Picture/Television Film New Use Department since 1995. The department has consistently improved its billing and collection power every year, for the past two decades. This is the result of a constant effort to improve our data systems, identification of new sources of new use, partnerships with AFM locals, and the gathering of B-4 sound recording contracts from wherever they may roam. The goal of our department is to have every B-4 in existence in our archives, readily accessible for the billing and collection of new uses as they are found. AFM members are crucial to making this happen through their assistance in spotting new uses and locating B-4s.

The TV/Theatrical Film New Use department is part of the Electronic Media Services Division (EMSD) of the AFM West Coast Office. We monitor the industry to capture the use of AFM sound recordings in films. The department does this through viewer/researcher Alisa Childs, who records and watches TV shows and theatrical motion pictures to spot the new use of recordings. Our two full-time researchers, Bryan Vasquez and Andrew Morris, assist in the daily viewing to catch as many new uses as possible.

In addition to in-house recording and viewing, we have access to music-in-films information through DVD rentals, record company licensing reports, and the Internet. We are always looking for additional reliable ways to identify new uses in films because we have a four-year statute of limitations. This means we have four years to spot a new use, find a B-4, and bill a producer. Catching all new uses has become more challenging for our three researchers because the number of channels and services (e.g., Netflix and Amazon Prime) has grown.

This is where our members can help by reporting the new uses they spot in films. The information we need to start the billing process is: film name, tune title, artist name, production company, and year of film’s release (or air date in the case of TV films.) This information can be sent to me at e-mail pmarroquin@afm.org or faxed to (323) 461-5410. Unfortunately, the billing process sometimes stops because we do not have a copy of the AFM sound recording session contract for the tune(s).

When a sound recording session takes place, a B-4 form is filed with the AFM locals. The B-4 itemizes for our department the list of musicians who performed in the session. It also confirms that the session was done under an AFM contract, and directs us on the appropriate new use fees to bill. We archive sound recording B-4s as they are found. Currently our database includes B-4 forms gathered from various union locals, the pension fund, and members. We are always looking for ways to find more B-4s. Our goal is to have a complete record of all recordings that have been filed with AFM locals. Members can assist by sending us copies of B-4 sound recording forms that they have in their personal files. Please contact me if you would like to send us your collection.

The billing and collection of new uses in films gets better every year. Our team is committed to improving its services through the resources available, and to finding more sources of new uses and B-4s. Join our team effort by reporting new uses and submitting your B-4s.

we support fair trade music

Fair Trade Music Seattle Builds on Its Success

by Paul Bigman, Organizer Local 76-493 (Seattle, WA)

we support fair trade musicSeattle’s Fair Trade Music campaign has picked up momentum in recent months. More than 20 clubs have signed on as Fair Trade Music venues, City Council has declared Fair Trade Music Day, and additional musician loading zones are in the works. The campaign now has separate committees working on education, research, legislation, and outreach. With funding from Local 76-493 (Seattle, WA) and guidance from the AFM’s Organizing & Education (O&E) Division, Fair Trade Music has also hired a grad student through University of Washington’s Harry Bridges Labor Center to conduct research on the impact of the music industry on the local economy.

How did this happen?

Nate Omdal, a key campaign leader, is an upright bassist who plays jazz and hip-hop. As a result of getting involved in Fair Trade Music, he now sits on the board of Local 76-493. “The training that we had on organizing and on our local music scene was, in some ways, our greatest achievement,” he says. “It got us all on the same page. It showed musicians that we didn’t have any ulterior motives—that we had common problems that we could go after [by] working together.”

After more than a year of steadily building support, the campaign held a panel discussion with musicians from varied genres, stressing that Fair Trade Music needed their input to get a clear picture of the local music scene and to identify issues that are most important to them. “We were satisfied to go slow,” stresses Omdal. “We understood that we had to build the legs before the table. As a result, we picked up people who we can rely on for the next five years—not just activists, but torch-bearers.”

fair trade Seattle city council

Seattle City Council Finance and Culture Committee listens to musician testimony, (L to R) are: City Council President Tim Burgess, Council member and resolution co-sponsor Mike O’Brien, Council Member Jean Godden, and Committee Chair and resolution co-sponsor Council member Nick Licata.

Local 76-493 member Jay Kenney, a pianist and co-founder of Fair Trade Music in Seattle, also cited the importance of the process. “The most important gain of the campaign is the empowerment of musicians that have joined. By working together, we can get stuff done,” he says.

Building on the impetus of that panel, the organizing committee developed templates for performance agreements, as well as a sample e-mail to gather information for agreements. Since then, the campaign has run two successful classes on how to negotiate agreements with club owners.

At the same time that these educational efforts were carried out, the musicians reached out to club owners to sign a Fair Trade Music pledge, and to the political and labor communities to sign a statement of support for the campaign. A dozen musician activists met with members of the Seattle City Council, and with the mayor’s labor liaison. All council members, as well as the mayor, signed the support statement. From there, it was a fairly easy step to get the city council to declare Fair Trade Music Day. Half a dozen musicians joined Jeff Johnson, president of the 400,000-member Washington State Labor Council, in testifying for the resolution.

“We need to recognize that cultural workers are just like other workers,” Johnson says, “but many musicians have no income protection in the clubs.”

David Guilbault, a singer-songwriter, agrees: “Our work is given little or no value. It’s considered a labor of love. But it is labor, and I should be paid for my labor.”

The meetings with council members, as well as the musicians’ testimony, hit home with the city leaders. Council member Nick Licata, a co-sponsor of the resolution, stresses: “This legislation has literally come from the grass roots.” Based on what he learned from the Fair Trade Music leaders, he says that the situation facing many musicians is “basically a form of wage theft, dying from a thousand cuts. For Seattle to remain a national cultural hub, we must treat our musicians to fair working conditions.”

The publicity from Fair Trade Music Day has attracted widespread attention, both in Seattle and nationally. Locally, several more clubs have signed on, plus productions by Seattle Theatre Group at about 20 additional venues. The campaign has attracted attention from several other unions as a model for nontraditional organizing. Articles in Seattle Gay News raised Fair Trade Music’s profile in the LGBT community. Nationally, there has been interest from diverse sources: the AFL-CIO, Working America, as well as an Occupy Wall Street related blog.

Local 76-493 President Motter Snell emphasizes that key to the success of the campaign has been its firm roots among the affected musicians. “We’ve had 30 musicians engaged in organizing activity just in 2015,” she explains. “The outreach to the venues, recruitment of other musicians, talking with elected officials—that’s all been done by musician activists.”

Equally important, decisions about campaign priorities and direction have also come from musicians. “Our local’s leadership and staff, as well as the [AFM] International’s organizing staff, have helped to educate and train the club musicians,” Snell stresses, “but part of empowering the musicians is giving them the authority to make decisions about their work lives.”

fair trade musicians at city hall in Seattle

Seattle musicians prepare for testimony on the Fair Trade Music Day resolution, (L to R) are: Katrina Kope, Steve Roseta, Tara Babette, David Levin, Michael Owcharuk, Jay Kenney, Nate Omdal, and Jason Arnold.

One real asset in the campaign has been the involvement of seasoned professionals who may have little to gain for themselves, like Michael Owcharuk, an established jazz pianist and composer. “It’s a way I can do something civic-minded,” he says. “I can contribute to my field.” He sees his leadership as important for younger musicians, and for the future.

The work of the AFM O&E Division as important for the campaign, says Snell. “The existence of a coordinated national campaign has been tremendously helpful,” she says, “not only in providing guidance and advice, but also in connecting us with other locals facing similar issues.”

Snell also credited pioneering work done by other locals. “Portland came up with this concept, and laid the groundwork. Local 1000 [nongeographic] has provided a lot of guidance with their Fair Trade Music program. And, of course, Nashville [Local 257] led the way with musician loading zones.”

Moving forward, the campaign has several areas of focus,  including putting Fair Trade Music decals (pictured above) in the windows of participating venues and nailing down support from the Martin Luther King Jr. County Council. The Labor Center research project will build on a 2008 City of Seattle study, which found that music contributes $2.6 billion annually to the area economy. The new research will likely show an even greater impact. Fair Trade Music plans to develop classes on the use of social media to promote music, drawing on the knowledge of experienced musicians and the local community college.

On the legislative front, the campaign will explore unreasonable restrictions in noncompete clauses at area festivals, as well as the changing local taxes, which appear to serve neither the music community, nor the city.

Focus will remain on increasing musician involvement in the campaign, as well as expanding the venues signed on to the standards. Once more clubs have signed on, Fair Trade Music hopes to move toward stronger standards for the venues.

“We’re asking that people go to the clubs that treat musicians fairly,” says Omdal. “Seattle values our music, and we call ourselves a music city. We need to back that up by valuing musicians, as well as their music.”

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.

Music Performance Trust Fund MusicianFest Launches and Expands to Canada

The Film Fund and Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) are teaming up with organizations in the US and Canada to bring live music to older adults at senior centers this year. Named MusicianFest, the program will stage up to 500 free performances at senior centers in an effort to bring the positive impact of music into the lives of older adults. The concert series also will boost the employment of local musicians—many of whom will be contemporaries of their audiences. In the US, MPTF is collaborating with the National Council on Aging (NCOA), and in Canada, they’ve teamed up with the Health Arts Society of Canada.

Inaugural US Event

(L to R) NCOA Public Affairs Manager Vanessa Sink, University Settlement Older Adult Program Director Michele Rodriguez, MPTF Trustee Dan Beck, Rosanne Cash (member of Local 802),  CEO of University Settlement Michael Zisser, and AFM Secretary-Treasure Sam Folio.

(L to R) NCOA Public Affairs Manager Vanessa Sink, University Settlement Older Adult Program Director Michele Rodriguez, MPTF Trustee Dan Beck, Rosanne Cash (member of Local 802),
CEO of University Settlement Michael Zisser, and AFM Secretary-Treasure Sam Folio.

The inaugural US MusicianFest event was held at the University Settlement Neighborhood Center. Grammy award winning singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash of Local 802 (New York City) introduced the first MusicianFest performer and spoke about the MPTF and the many benefits of music in her life.

“For me, music is the greatest healing force in my life. When I want to sort out my memories, when I want to cry, I find a good, sad piece of music to do that. When I want to remember old times, when I want to connect with people I love, and the feeling I had when I fell in love or when I lost someone, or when I went on a journey. Music is the currency and the language for all of that, and it always has been for me. I’ve made sense of my life through music,” says Cash.

Noted New York guitarist and singer Richard Frank of Local 802 (New York City) was the first MusicianFest performer. Nearly 100 older adults joined the celebration, singing and dancing to the music. (View video highlights of the event here https://youtu.be/ZVK1cfLHZSA.)

“With the support of the AFM and NCOA’s guidance, we look forward to merging the capabilities of senior advocates with professional musicians to create dynamic programs,” says MPTF Trustee Dan Beck. “We are grateful for the support from the Film Fund to create this new initiative. We hope to inspire further support to continue this work in the years ahead.”

To find a list of US senior centers hosting MusicianFest performances, visit www.ncoa.org/MusicianFest.

Canadian Expansion

In Canada, MusicianFest events will be held in conjunction with The Health Arts Society. Founded by David Lemon in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2006, this organization meets the broadly understood need for high quality live professional arts programs for elders and others living in long-term residential care and retirement homes. Combined with its sister societies in every province, it’s the largest arts presenter to people in these facilities, bringing the work of some of the nation’s finest performers to people who can no longer enjoy regular public performances. To date, the society has presented more than 10,000 Concerts in Care to more than 450,000 people and provided professional musicians with 20,000-plus paid performance engagements.

Health Arts Society, as well as sister societies Health Arts Society of Ontario and Québec’s Société pour les Arts en Milieux de Santé, are proud to be associated with MusicianFest, which draws attention to the valuable work of professional musicians in the communities of retirement homes and residential care. By contributing 75 Concerts in Care in Ontario, British Columbia, and Québec, the National Council on Aging and the MPTF bring the enrichment and pleasure of first-class music performance to people who cannot access public venues.

The 75 concerts presented in Canada by the three societies will reach an audience of more than 3,000 with performances of classical, jazz, folk, and world music.

Both the US and Canadian MusicianFest concerts are already engaged with a target completion date of June 30. For further Information about MusicianFest please contact MPTF Trustee Dan Beck: dbeck@musicpf.org.


fair-play-fair-payOn April 13, AFM President Ray Hair; AFM International Executive Board member (IEB) and Local 257 President (Nashville, TN) David Pomeroy; IEB and Local 802 (New York City) President Tino Gagliardi; the musicFIRST Coalition; record labels; and other members of the music community to support the Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2015, introduced by representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Marsh Blackburn (R-TN). This monumental legislation would finally ensure that musicians are compensated fairly when their music is played on any radio platform—Internet, satellite, or traditional AM/FM.

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Organizing and Research – A One-Two Punch

by Ed Gutierrez, AFM West Coast Organizing Coordinator

It has often been said that organizing is the lifeblood of the labor movement. Without a doubt, there is nothing more powerful than workers coming together and marching in lockstep toward a common goal. Whether it’s pushing for worker-friendly legislation, bargaining contracts, addressing issues on the shop floor, or fighting for union recognition and respect from our employers and the industry, we must either organize or perish. But, no matter what the goal, successful organizing goes hand in hand with an informed understanding of the environment and the interrelationship between the elements within it. To gain such an understanding, research is critical.

Successful organizing requires a strategy to win. And, while member activism and the capacity to mobilize workers can mean the difference between life and death for a union campaign, research is key in developing a strategy that will give workers a roadmap to victory. Organizing without solid research can sometimes be like shooting in the dark. Research shines a light, and regardless of the challenges we seek to overcome, our work in organizing depends on our ability to see all of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats we face along the way and to plan accordingly.

Union campaign research focuses on a range of areas and issues that can be touched on in the course of any given campaign. Research that organizing unions typically conduct include:

  • Market Research—Where does a particular entity sit within a specific market in terms of size, financial strength, etc.? Who are included in the universe of players within that market? How do entities in a particular market relate to and compete with one another?
  • Corporate Research—What are the regulatory structures that surround a firm or an industry? Who are a firm’s owners, shareholders, operators, managers, customers, suppliers, and other important related parties? How profitable is a particular company? What is the company’s business plan?
  • Policy Research—What legislative angles can be explored to address the union’s issues and concerns? What processes need to be followed and what structures need to be maneuvered through in order to affect policy in a given city or state? Who are the elected officials and community organizations necessary to engage around policy initiatives?

AFM members are using research to help in organizing and building power for musicians. Recent examples from our union show how research is playing an increasingly important role in the organizing work we do. For example, in December 2014, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) released its groundbreaking report, Keeping the Score: The Impact of Recapturing North American Film and Television Sound Recording Work.”The LAANE report fills a void in what has been an otherwise rhetoric-heavy debate by taking a thorough look at the problem of “runaway” post-production through a fact-based, data-driven analysis of the factors that contribute to the increasing loss of film scoring work for AFM members.

The study—with research conducted in part by rank-and-file musicians themselves—gives us a wealth of powerful information to work with in organizing for more employment and in seeking to affect change on a policy level. Here are just a few of the report’s findings:

  • The film and television industry is extremely profitable and studios can afford to do scoring work at industry standards. The year 2013 was the highest-grossing year on record for the North American box office with $10.9 billion in revenue.
  • By offshoring scoring work, production companies save less than one-quarter of one percent of a film’s production budget—or $143,000 on the typical $65 million film.
  • In the case of Southern California, bringing scoring work back to the level musicians saw in 2000 would bring an estimated $37.5 million in total annual economic impact to the Los Angeles region.
    You can see the full report here: http://www.laane.org/keeping-the-score/.

AFM’s Organizing & Education Division is also currently providing research support for members at locals in both Seattle and Portland in their unique but related work on building our union’s Fair Trade Music program. This includes market-based research aimed at gaining a more complete understanding of the club scene in these respective cities, and research looking at questions about how public policy in those cities impacts musicians.

Conducting research can also provide an important organizing opportunity itself. This is an especially effective tool to build the union in the case of new organizing when the AFM works with musicians who seek to improve their working conditions by organizing into our union. After all, who better to gather information about any number of issues related to an industry than the workers within that industry?

Ultimately, research is central to any comprehensive organizing strategy. Not only does good research arm workers with the facts, figures, and expertise needed to stand up to power and stake out a position around the issues important to our livelihoods, but it also allows us to see clearly how a comprehensive plan can be developed in an organizing campaign. Good research allows unions to develop the necessary support for our work in the community and to effectively engage employers around our issues. And that’s powerful stuff.

—Ed Gutierrez is AFM’s West Coast Organizing Coordinator. Gutierrez has worked since 2000 as an organizer and strategic campaign researcher for several unions, including SEIU, AFSCME, and UNITE-HERE.

Fair Trade Music Shows Seattle Musicians They Have Power

by Paul Bigman, Organizer AFM Local 76-493 (Seattle, WA)

Fair Trade Music Seattle (FTMS) was launched through a public meeting in 2012. “We saw a major part of our industry in Seattle with no union presence,” explains Local 76-493 (Seattle, WA) President Motter Snell. “When affected musicians came to us, we took action. This has the potential to build new leadership, and help improve wages and working conditions for area musicians.”

Hard work building support among area musicians for Seattle’s Fair Trade Music campaign is paying off. Following the creation of the city’s first musician loading zones, FTMS is now signing on area venues to a Fair Trade Music pledge. The pledge commits the clubs to maintain standards, including negotiated written performance agreements, accountability and transparency, quality sound, and a mechanism to resolve grievances.

eattle (FTMS) activist and Local 76-493 (Seattle, WA) board member Marc Smason performs at FTMS venue Ples & Pints

Seattle (FTMS) activist and Local 76-493 (Seattle, WA) board member Marc Smason performs at FTMS venue Ples & Pints

Building on the loading zone victory, a panel of a dozen musicians from varied genres met to discuss area venues, priorities, and strategies. The panel identified two immediate new goals: teaching musicians how to get an effective performance agreement, and ensuring adequate sound in clubs.

The victory drew in new activists. Steve Roseta, a local producer, heard about the loading zones from a radio show. “It made so much sense to me,” Roseta explains. “Musicians get the short end of the stick. Everyone else gets paid—the dishwashers, the cook, the sound guy—but sometimes not the musicians, the most important part of the evening.” When he deals with a venue that mistreats musicians, he won’t book shows there again. Fair Trade Music fits perfectly with his views.

FTMS and Local 76-493 held a class on performance contracts in August, covering both content and how to negotiate a fair agreement. This included templates for an initial e-mail to establish specific terms, and for venue and private performance agreements.

Nate Omdal, a key FTMS leader and Local 76-493 board member, used the newly-developed agreement a few weeks later for a week-long gig at an area casino. He dealt with a lawyer on the other side, who initially questioned some of the terms. “But when I told him that it was developed with input from 30 musicians and the AFM local, he backed down and signed,” recounts Omdal. The other four members of Omdal’s band for the gig have now decided to join the union.

FTMS obtained funds from Local 76-493, the AFM, and the Washington State Labor Council to provide diagnostic and tune-up service for sound systems at venues that sign the pledge. The work will be done by IATSE sound technicians, and may cover modest equipment replacement.

The next month, FTMS activists approved a Fair Trade Music pledge to bring to area venues. Venue owners pledge:

  • To provide a detailed written performance agreement.
  • To have quality sound equipment and a competent sound tech, or an agreement for musicians to provide their own equipment and tech.
  • A commitment to resolve disputes.
  • In return, FTMS pledges:
  • To actively publicize FTMS venues, and mobilize our communities to support the clubs that support musicians.
  • A commitment to resolve disputes.

To date, six venues have signed this pledge. FTMS musicians are in discussions with another half-dozen venues, and hope to have at least 10 Fair Trade venues by next month. When that happens, FTMS and the local will put out publicity and start mobilizing our communities to patronize Fair Trade venues.

Omdal stresses that the successes are due to the involvement of musicians at every step. “It’s uniquely empowering,” he says, particularly when meeting with City Council members and officials. “I learned how much power my voice and expertise have as a professional musician. The union provided me with the opportunity to see that.” He says it was also important that FTMS was able to present a clear plan for getting from point A to point B: “As musicians saw that we’re doing our due diligence to achieve our goals, they’re more excited to get involved.”

Jay Kenney, an FTMS founder and Local 76-493 board member, believes that it also helped to focus more on advocacy for musicians’ needs—such as the loading zones—and less on adversarial actions with venues. He says that flexibility helped to develop a base among musicians outside the union. But he also notes that once FTMS has the clubs that treat musicians well on board, they’ll have to be prepared to target venues with less friendly policies, and look for effective strategies to bring them around.

Omdal recalls a personal experience that opened his eyes. His band and two others—one from out of town—had a gig at a well-known area club. When they got there to set up, the owner told them that their income would just be advance ticket sales. The touring band immediately said they’d leave to go to the next city on their tour, since it would be a waste of time to stay. Then Omdal said that, without that band to open, his band would also be wasting their time, and would just go home. The third band quickly followed. Suddenly the venue owner found it in his power to provide all three groups decent pay for the night. Omdal reports that he then understood the power that musicians have.

FTMS includes about 40 area musicians, close to 30 of whom have been at meetings this year and actively participate. A dozen musicians have initiated outreach to clubs to get them to sign on as FTM venues. Most are not yet union members, though there’s increasing consideration for joining.

Through their action, musicians are learning the importance of the labor movement. When FTMS found that an area restaurant at which they play is on labor’s “do not patronize” list for breaking the restaurant workers’ union (UNITE HERE), they asked a representative from the restaurant workers to come to a local board meeting to explain the situation. Kenney, who plays regularly at the restaurant, found the presentation helpful. He notes, “There are going to be times when we’re presented with a conflict of interest where, as here, publicizing a venue that treats us right may not be appropriate, given the way they treat other workers. We came down on the side of labor, our natural base.”

Omdal adds that, when he heard how dishwashers and servers had been treated, he recognized that musicians were higher on the food chain than he’d realized. He says that he identifies more now with the other workers at the restaurant. Both Omdal and Kenney are eager to work with UNITE HERE on common interests.

The campaign is spilling over into other areas of the local’s work. Susan McLain, a harpist and long-time leader of Local 76-493, credits the new emphasis on internal organizing for spurring efforts to improve area standards for harpists, patterned on the FTMS model. She’s working with the local’s organizer and other harpists to ensure reasonable pay and conditions.

“We need to see ourselves as workers,” stresses McLain. “We can’t be in a race to the bottom, or we all lose. When we go out to play, the key word is ‘sustainable’—we need a living wage. Fair Trade Music is a good platform for union and nonunion musicians working together.”

Local 76-493 President Snell believes that FTMS is helping the local as a whole. “It’s getting people talking,” she says, “and putting a good spin on the local. It’s raising the relevance of the union in our community.”

Next up, in addition to seeking more venues, are some new projects. Musicians will be meeting with each member of the Seattle City Council  to seek support for FTMS, and specifically to discuss musician loading zones and unreasonable restrictions in contracts with public music festivals that receive city funding. FTMS will explore contacting corporate festival sponsors that treat musicians unfairly. They’re planning another class on performance agreements in February or March.

Kenney is optimistic: “We’ve made real penetration into our community, and there’s a lot of excitement.” Omdal stresses the lesson that musicians can win when they have the will, and a strategic plan. Local 76-493 Vice President Joan Sandler, a violinist, says, “We’ve let the venue owners have all the power in dealing with us. But musicians can take that power back, and have greater control over our working conditions.”

Organizing Means Raising the Profile of the People Making the Music

You can be a musician, and have power in numbers, too. As a union, it is our job to ensure that musicians get fair treatment and are recognized by their employers as the valuable employees that they are. But to do so, we must continue to engage our members and make sure that the general public knows that, if they care about music, they must care about musicians. In any campaign, we must ensure that musicians are both the faces and the motor that keeps it going.

This was very much the case during negotiations with the Metropolitan Opera this year. The MET Orchestra Musicians brought the energy and the exacting nature that they bring to their work every day to the negotiating table. They approached the talks with rigorous, data-driven analysis and found areas where management could achieve real cost savings, while performing grand opera.

It was grueling work for all of us, but it was great to see the level of collaboration amongst the musicians and their solidarity with their coworkers at the MET. It was also clear to anyone who was following the process that opera is still very much alive and well, and that the MET Orchestra Musicians had the support of elected officials, friends, and fans from around the world, all of whom chimed in to express their solidarity.

The musicians were able to raise their profile, via their own website and through social media, and are continuing to engage their fans and build their audiences this way. I am proud of the family they are, of the hard work that they put into their craft every day, and of their incredible and continued teamwork during negotiations. While the agreement calls for sacrifices on both sides, it is unprecedented among arts organizations in that it calls for a new level of financial oversight and includes a mechanism for artists to collaborate in finding meaningful efficiencies.

When Local 802 (New York City) member Jimmy Owens testified at a City Council hearing about the plight of older musicians in jazz clubs, he did something no one but a musician could do: he reached for his flugelhorn, and played “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” to a rapt audience. It was a moment that reminded everyone present about the power of live music. The attention he and other musicians garnered helped the Justice for Jazz Artists campaign achieve a new goal this year. In October, the New York City Council passed a resolution supporting Justice for Jazz Artists, which seeks, through collective bargaining, to improve the lives of musicians working in New York City’s jazz clubs by addressing workplace issues, including providing retirement security.

Once again, the musicians were front and center. Local 802 members testified at a City Council hearing about the hardships of older jazz musicians who have not received pensions, performed at the resolution’s passage, and later, gathered with council members on the steps of City Hall. The musicians’ commitment and passion garnered much attention, and now more people than ever are supporting this campaign. This kind of support will help push New York’s major jazz clubs to do the right thing, and will hopefully lead to similar campaigns in other cities.

In the coming year, it is important for us to bring the same energy to other campaigns. We must ensure that working musicians are treated fairly in venues such as casinos, which have a growing presence in New York and in areas throughout the country. We must also ensure that, in areas where there are generous state and federal government tax incentives for film companies, there are also strong campaigns. We must educate the public about the problem of companies who receive such benefits outsourcing musicians’ jobs to London and Bratislava. Once again, it will be important to ensure that our musicians are front and center in these efforts, and to build strong coalitions with other stakeholders who care about these issues. Musicians have power, and our members were reminded of that fact this year. It is our job to make sure they don’t forget about the power they have and what they can accomplish when they work together.

A Year of Strong Organizing in the AFM

Financial Health Restored

AFM Secretary-Treasurer Sam Folio announced in the May IM that the financial health of the AFM had been restored thanks to cost cutting measures. He also announced that the AFM was considering the possibility of purchasing a space in lieu of continuing to rent. In the June issue, AFM President Ray Hair explained the advantages of ownership: appreciation value of New York City real estate; building equity; and the stability of a fixed rate mortgage, versus ever rising rent. However, the proposed purchase has been postponed, due to the unacceptable financial risk that the AFM would incur if it went through with the purchase at this time.

Other Developments from the AFM

By the start of 2014, more than 75 orchestra institutions had signed on to the Integrated Media Agreement (IMA). Discussions began in December 2013 to update and improve the agreement. A successor agreement has not yet been reached. The next meeting was scheduled for this month.

AFM President Ray Hair addresses the 3rd International Federation of Musicians (FIM) International Orchestra Conference (IOC) in Oslo, Norway.

AFM President Ray Hair addresses the 3rd International Federation of Musicians (FIM) International Orchestra Conference (IOC) in Oslo, Norway.

In February, AFM President Ray Hair, AFM Symphonic Services Director Jay Blumenthal, and a symphonic conference delegation attended the International Orchestra Conference (IOC) in Oslo, Norway, hosted by the International Federation of Musicians (FIM). At the conference, Hair spoke of the AFM’s mission in an international workplace and the need for a worldwide union for professional musicians.

The Theatre Musicians Association (TMA) announced its new Theatre Contract Data Repository in February. Located on the TMA website, it is a collection of data formatted to compare important aspects of theater CBAs from many different locals. It is available to TMA, AFM International, and local officers.

In August, Michael Manley was appointed AFM Director for Touring/Theatre/Booking and Immigration following the retirement of former Director Steve Gelfand. In September, an “AFM on the Road” Facebook group was launched, in order to foster and build better communication and solidarity among musicians who travel. The touring and theatrical communities took center stage in the International Musician’s November 2014 issue.

AFM Marks Progress on the Political & Legislative Front

The AFM began the year with a new TEMPO campaign designed to foster a greater sense of value, identity, and purpose. Local 94 (Tulsa, OK) Secretary-Treasurer Tammy Kirk became its chair. Since its inception, the TEMPO account balance has doubled in size, and the Signature Campaign has 60 new members.

As the Second Session of the 113th Congress convened, AFM Legislative-Political Director Alfonso Pollard asked AFM members to lend their voice to two important legislative actions that impact a large segment of membership: funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill and the Local Radio Freedom Act (LRFA).

As Congress was to pass an Omnibus Appropriations bill in January, Pollard asked members to continue to let their voices be heard in support of President Obama’s FY 2014 proposed NEA budget levels. The House Subcommittee on the Interior had slashed the NEA budget by 49%, but then the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee voted to restore funding. When Congress released its final bill, it contained generally good news for arts and education, restoring nearly all pre-sequester levels, including $146 million for the NEA and $25 million for the Arts in Education program. The AFM’s NEA letter writing campaign generated 1,004 actions, sending 2,982 messages to 286 legislators.

Pollard emphasized the AFM’s strong opposition to the LRFA, calling it a step in the wrong direction for AFM members who would like to secure a performance right on intellectual property broadcast on terrestrial radio. “There is no doubt that the AM/FM radio broadcasters who play our music over the airwaves want to prevent the adoption of legislation that would provide royalty payments to musicians on sound recordings,” says Pollard.

The MusicFIRST Coalition celebrated as 2013 drew to a close and thanked labels, artists, unions (including the AFM), and trade groups for victory over the Internet Radio Fairness Act and it’s proposed 85% pay cut for artists.

As the primaries were about to begin, Pollard urged AFM member participation. He posted the AFM Voter Guide for the 112th Congress, which focused on votes related to issues supported by working musicians.

One major political focus this year has been to try to find a workable solution for the problems traveling musicians have encountered under CITES and ESA guidelines relating to the importation of protected species woods and plant components. Pollard and AFM President Ray Hair have been trying to find a workable solution.

Following the release of USFWS Director’s Order No. 210 (the ban on the importation and trade of ivory effective February 25), Hair sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking for clearer guidance. The AFM is seeking an exemption from the ban for musical instruments that contain very small amounts of ivory. In June, Hair submitted testimony to the House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs oversight hearing about the burden the ban puts on musicians. The AFM has joined an Ivory Group Coalition that has reached out to Obama Administration officials.

The AFM has also continued its efforts to advocate for consistent guidelines for musicians traveling with instruments as carry-on items. Hair, along with a carry-on coalition, met with Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, major and regional airline representatives, and other stakeholders twice in 2014. In July and September, talks were held in order to assist the DOT in the carry-on rulemaking process.

Numerous articles in this year’s IM offer guidance and advice to traveling musicians. The Federation is also creating an informational webpage, which will be a one-stop site for specific details on airline requirements for musicians traveling with instruments.

In May, the Future of Music Coalition (FMC), of which the AFM is a member, sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chair Tom Wheeler urging him to keep the Internet open and free to everyone. Among those signing the letter were dozens of AFM musicians and other creators.

Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN) introduced and sponsored The Film Incentive Reform Act of 2014, which is supported by the AFM. It would modify Section 181 of the American Job Creation Act of 2004, which provides tax subsidies for domestic film production. Peterson’s proposed legislation would require a subsidized film production to spend 100% of its production costs in the US, effectively keeping taxpayer dollars at home.

Updated EMSD Agreements Finalized

In January, Bill Thomas took over as director of the AFM Electronic Media Services Division (EMSD), following the retirement of Dick Gabriel who had worked for the AFM for more than 35 years. This year, the AFM was involved in negotiations for successor media agreements with the film, jingle, and recording sectors. These negotiations dominated the agendas of AFM President Ray Hair and EMSD Director Thomas in early 2014.

The Motion Picture and TV Film agreements are among the Federation’s oldest. By last January, the AFM had gone through five rounds of negotiations with the film producers. Talks are scheduled to resume January 7, 2015 (which will be a caucus day) and meetings with industry will follow on January 8 and 9.

Negotiations for a successor Jingle Agreement began in early 2014. The Federation and the advertising industry reached a three-year Jingles and Spot Announcements Agreement that contains an upfront 6% wage increase for applicable recording sessions and re-use payments, among other features. It became effective June 5, 2014 and will run through June 5, 2017.

With the collaboration of Microsoft Corporation, the AFM developed a new Video Game Agreement. Effective June 10, it improves wages and preserves producer obligations to pay musicians additional fees for nonfranchise use. The agreement extends through December 31, 2016.

AFM Renews Focus on Organizing & Education

AFM President Ray Hair addresses the crowd at the Los Angeles launch of the Listen Up! campaign.

AFM President Ray Hair addresses the crowd at the Los Angeles launch of the Listen Up! campaign.

Members were introduced to the new AFM Organizing & Education Division focused on working with musicians on local, national, and international levels to organize for musicians’ rights in our communities. Organizing & Education Division Director Paul Frank outlined the division’s new programs, including a pilot project for intensive on-site assistance for locals to develop and maintain their own organizing programs.

Local 76-493 (Seattle, WA) was the first to join the pilot project and hired an organizer in February. The local is developing a robust Fair Trade Music campaign to organize freelance musicians working in clubs, cafes, and other live venues. That local is identifying other potential organizing opportunities, as well. Local 99 (Portland, OR) has also joined the project and hired an organizer. Other locals are preparing to come on board in 2015.

On April 10, the AFM officially launched its Listen Up! campaign against the offshoring of film and TV soundtrack recording by major film companies, such as Lionsgate Entertainment, that are not signatories to AFM agreements. The launch in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and New York City coincided with the opening of Lionsgate’s movie Draft Day. From the film, Lionsgate took $5 million in public funds from Ohio taxpayers, then sent the music to Europe to be scored by a Macedonian company. Local, state, provincial and federal taxpayers have subsidized hundreds of millions of dollars to Lionsgate productions over the past several years. In 2014 alone, the company reported receiving $82 million in tax credits. Between 2011 and 2013, only two of Lionsgate’s more than 20 films were scored to industry standards set by the AFM.

In October, the New York City Council passed Resolution 207A supporting the Justice for Jazz Artists campaign, which seeks to improve the lives of musicians working in New York City’s jazz clubs by addressing workplace issues, by providing retirement security through fair pay, pension contributions, protection of recording rights, and a reasonable process for addressing grievances.

Orchestra Scene Shows Encouraging Signs of Improvement

Many orchestras in 2014 successfully negotiated new collective bargaining agreements (CBAs), and most of them contained modest increases in salaries and/or other benefits. Among those were: Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Omaha Symphony, Colorado Springs Philharmonic, Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, North Carolina Symphony, San Francisco Opera Orchestra, and Chattanooga Symphony and Opera.

Other good news came from The Cleveland Orchestra announcing a balanced budget, a growing endowment, and record-breaking fundraising. St. Paul Chamber Orchestra ended FY 2013 with a $283,264 surplus and reduced deficit, while Detroit Symphony Orchestra celebrated its third straight year of subscription growth and strong attendance. Orchestra of St. Luke’s had a modest surplus. Houston Symphony reported record contributed income and ticket sale revenue. After several years of financial difficulty, The Oregon Symphony saw a record $7 million in ticket sales. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra received its largest two gifts ever, totaling $32 million, and reported record breaking ticket sales and fundraising. Ticket sales for Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra are also up; and Charlotte Symphony Orchestra ended in the black for the first time since 2002.

Minnesota Orchestra musicians looked back at lessons learned during their 16-month lockout as they continued the long process of recovery focused on creating a strong future. Pictured (L to R): Committee members  Tony Ross, Tim Zavadil, R. Douglas Wright, Marcia Peck, Local 30-73 (Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN) Secretary-Treasurer Tom Baskerville, Local 30-73 President Brad Eggen, and Kevin Watkins at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis.

Minnesota Orchestra musicians looked back at lessons learned during their 16-month lockout as they continued the long process of recovery focused on creating a strong future. Pictured (L to R): Committee members Tony Ross, Tim Zavadil, R. Douglas Wright, Marcia Peck, Local 30-73 (Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN) Secretary-Treasurer Tom Baskerville, Local 30-73 President Brad Eggen, and Kevin Watkins at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis.

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra called for emergency funding as the year began, announcing that it was in dire financial trouble and needed to raise $5 million due to an inadequate endowment. For the seventh time in 11 years musicians were asked to make concessions that included cuts to orchestra size, plus changes to their health plans and scheduling. On January 2, they ratified a number of mid-term modifications to their CBA, which expires August 2015.

Ten Minnesota legislators called for the resignations of Minnesota Orchestra CEO Michael Henson, Board Chair Jon Campbell, and Chair Richard Davis. The legislators also called for the Minnesota Orchestra Association to immediately end the musician lockout. On January 14, the lockout finally ended after a devastating 16 months. A new contract went into effect in February. Along with some changes in work rules, the musicians agreed to a 15% reduction to base and overscale salaries in the first year, followed by modest increases in the following two years. They will also contribute more toward healthcare, while management agreed to a revenue sharing of endowment returns if they average more than 10% over three years.

The Minnesota Orchestra musicians and other supporters called for the return of director Osmo Vänskä, who had resigned in frustration during the lockout. Vänskä had implied that he would only return if Henson resigned. Shortly after Henson announced that he would step down in August, the Minnesota Orchestra board approved a two-year contract reinstating Vänskä. Interim CEO Kevin Smith was made permanent in November.

Memphis Symphony Orchestra announced plans to restructure following depletion of its cash reserves. Immediate action included staff job and pay cuts, and adjustments to costly programs. After holding several benefit concerts and receiving two $100,000 donations, the orchestra announced it would be able to save the season.

Following an all-night contentious bargaining session, musicians and management of The Metropolitan Opera reached an agreement August 18 that avoided a threatened lockout.

Oregon Symphony musicians signed a one-year contract extension through August 2015. Though musicians have made numerous concessions over the past few years, salary levels will remain the same under the extension. New contract negotiations will resume in spring or summer 2015.

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra musicians were locked out after their contract expired September 6 without a new agreement in place. At the end of September, Stanley Romanstein resigned as ASO president and executive director. ASO musicians have continued to perform concerts around Atlanta and protest outside the orchestra’s home, the Woodruff Arts Center. An agreement was reached in early November and concerts resumed.