Tag Archives: recent news

California ‘Gig Economy’ Bill 5 to be Amended, Some Categories of Exemptions for Musicians to be Adopted

An agreement has been reached in the California Assembly on pending amendments to California’s “Gig Economy” Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) that will provide relief to the majority of affected music professionals, including musicians, recording artists, composers, songwriters, and vocalists. According to a statement from the office of Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, sponsor of the original bill, once the legislature reconvenes from its recess, Gonzalez will make changes to how AB5 applies to professions in the music industry.

Assembly Bill 5 is largely aimed at “gig economy” jobs and is designed to make it more difficult for companies to classify workers as independent contractors rather than employees. The law established a three-part (ABC) test for determining employment status, which music industry unions opposed because of its effect on industry professionals. Gonzalez introduced legislation in January to seek to rectify the issues raised.

Under the ABC test and the Borello test, employment status has always been determined based on whether a hiring business can impose a significant level of control and direction on the manner and means by which a worker accomplishes their task. To remain consistent with this principle, the amendments will reflect “greater opportunity for musicians to collaborate with each other in instances where the musician is free of significant control from the hiring business and the nature of their work is primarily original and inventive,” according to Gonzalez’s office.

With respect to standalone live performances, the amendments will also specify that unless a musical group specifically falls into one of the groups below, the musicians will be subject to the less strict Borello test to determine classification. This allows most independent musicians to collaborate with one another in their live performances, without becoming each other’s employees. 

Instances where the nature of a musician’s work inherently draws a significant level of control and direction from their employer, musicians will continue to have employment protections under AB5. This includes a musical group regularly performing in a theme park setting, and musicians performing in a symphony orchestra, as part of a tour of live performances, in a musical theatre production, in major venues, and at major music festivals.

The new language has been agreed upon by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), Music Artists Coalition (MAC), Society of Composers & Lyricists (SCL), Independent Music Professionals United (IMPU), Songwriters of North America (SONA), American Federation of Musicians (AFM), the Recording Academy, International Allegiance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) and Teamsters.

covid-19 relief fund

Recording Academy and MusiCares Establish COVID-19 Relief Fund

The Recording Academy and its affiliated charitable foundation MusiCares have established the COVID-19 Relief Fund to help people in the music industry affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak and subsequent cancellation of multiple music events. From hotel and bar gigs to major music festivals, COVID-19 is deeply impacting live music events and the creative community behind it all.

Administered through MusiCares, the COVID-19 Relief Fund will be used to directly support those in the music community with the greatest need.  

“Event cancellations are at unprecedented levels and the situation therefore requires an unprecedented response,” says Harvey Mason Jr., chair and interim CEO of the Recording Academy. “Many people in the industry are now in crisis, not knowing what the future holds or having to deal with dire commercial realities. We are asking the entire industry to stand with us to support the musicians, artists, and professionals who are the bedrock and the future of our music community.”

Steve Boom, MusiCares chair, says, “The music industry is built on the work of musicians, artists, and music professionals. It is in times like these, that the industry needs to come together to support those who are struggling, particularly those who rely on touring incomes to survive.”

If you are a member of the music industry in need of assistance, visit: musicares.org.

To support our efforts to assist music people in need, visit: www.grammy.com/MusiCares/CoronavirusReliefFund.

AFM New York Office Relocation

The AFM New York office will be closed for business both Thursday, March 28, and Friday, March 29, as they move to their new office space on the ninth floor. Their computer servers will be off-line from March 28 until Monday, April 1. Therefore, email messages sent to the AFM New York Headquarters staff between March 28 and April 1 may not be received by the office until April 1.

Please note the new AFM address:

American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada
1501 Broadway, Ninth Floor
New York, NY 10036

Staff telephone numbers will not change.

The AFM West Coast Office and the AFM Canadian Office will remain open for their normal business hours during the move. The International Musician office will also remain open for normal business hours.

Please understand this type of interruption is part of any move for an organization of this size. The AFM is doing everything they can to minimize any disruptions. Your understanding and patience is very much appreciated!

AFM 2019 Grammy Winners on Signatory Recordings

Congratulations to all AFM musicians whose AFM signatory recordings were nominated for Grammys! The benefits of protecting your recording under AFM agreements are compelling. For more information please contact AFM Electronic Media Services Division.

For US projects contact EMSD Director Pat Varriale: (212)869-1330 (X234 or X233)/pvarriale@afm.org

For Canadian projects contact Electronic Media Supervisor Daniel Calabrese: 1(800)463-6333 X224 or dcalabrese@afm.org.

For projects involving symphony, opera, ballet, or chamber orchestras with collective bargaining agreements, please contact AFM Director of Symphonic Electronic Media Debbie Newmark: (917)229-0225 or dnewmark@afm.org.

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album
My Way—Willie Nelson, member of Local 433 (Austin, TX)

Best Country Duo/Group Performance
“Tequila,” from the album Dan + Shay—Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney,
both members of Local 257 (Nashville, TN)

Best Bluegrass Album
The Travelin’ McCourys, The Travelin’ McCourys—Ronnie McCoury, Rob McCoury, Jason Carter, Alan Bartram, Cody Kilby, all members of Local 257

Best Traditional Blues Album
The Blues Is Alive and Well—Buddy Guy, member of Local 10-208 (Chicago, IL)

Best Folk Album
All Ashore, Punch Brothers—Chris Thile, Chris Eldridge, Paul Kowert, Noam Pikelny of Local 257 and Gabe Witcher of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA)

Best Musical Theatre Album
The Band’s Visit—Andrea Grody, Jeff Theiss, George Abud, Alexandra Farouk, Philip Mayer, Sam Sadigursky, Harvey Valdes, and Garo Yellin, members of Local 802 (New York City)

Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media
Black Panther—Ludwig Göransson, member of Local 47

Best Music Film
Quincy: A Life Beyond Measure starring Quincy Jones of Local 47

Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package
Squeeze Box: The Complete Works of “Weird Al” Yankovic—Weird Al Yankovic of Local 47

Best Engineered Album, Classical
Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 11—Andris Nelsons and Boston Symphony Orchestra, members of Local 9-535 (Boston, MA)

Best Orchestra Performance
Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 11—Andris Nelsons and Boston Symphony Orchestra

Best Opera Recording
Bates: The (R)Evolution of Steve Jobs, The Santa Fe Opera Orchestra,
members of Local 618 (Albuquerque, NM)

Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance
Laurie Anderson: Landfall—Laurie Anderson, a member of Local 802 and the Kronos Quartet—David Harrington of Local 76-493 (Seattle, WA), John Sherba of Local 10-208 (Chicago, IL), Frank Dutt of Local 3 (Indianapolis, IN), and Sunny Yang of Local 6 (San Francisco, CA).

lead organizer

AFM Announces New Lead Organizer

lead organizer

The AFM has announced the hiring of Lead Organizer Alex Tindal Wiesendanger. He will work under Director Michael Manley in the Organizing & Education Division. As the AFM’s new national lead organizer, Tindal Wiesendanger will work with locals to expand their organizing capacity, build out national and local strategies to organize freelance musicians, and lead campaigns for national contracts and to organize national targets.

Tindal Wiesendanger was born and raised in Harlem and the Bronx in New York City. He trained as a cellist at the Diller-Quaile School of Music and Binghamton University, where he also studied composition and conducting. He did his first organizing through the AFL-CIO’s Union Summer program in Missouri. A professional organizer since 2005, Tindal Wiesendanger spent two and a half years as associate director of the Tennessee Coalition to Abolish State Killing, followed by eight years as director of organizing at the Community Renewal Society in Chicago.

In 2016, he became the national organizing director at Jobs to Move America, a project of the ACL-CIO and six international building trades unions to organize the transportation manufacturing sector. Most recently, Tindal Wiesendanger served as the campaign manager of the Responsible Budget Coalition, a collection of 300 organizations led and funded by the four largest public sector unions in Illinois, which won new revenue to end the longest budget impasse in US history.

Tindal Wiesendanger received a master’s degree in Social Justice and Community Development from Loyola University Chicago. He lives in the Bronx with his wife, Sharaya, and their two children. He says he is thrilled to be home in New York City and excited to join the staff of AFM to build power with musicians across the country. 

If you are interested in expanding the organizing program at your local, you can contact Alex Tindal Wiesendanger at alextw@afm.org or (347) 558-3962.

LA Teachers Walk Out Following Two Years of Contract Negotiations

Thousands of Los Angeles Unified School District teachers—more than 30,000—walked off the job in mid-January. It is the first strike since 1989 for the country’s second largest school district, which includes more than 900 schools.

Teachers union President Alex Caputo-Pearl says the teachers are in “a battle for the soul of public education” with private charter schools bleeding funds away from public schools. Among the teachers’ demands over the two years of negotiations have been reduced class size; staffing nurses, counselors, and librarians; and teacher pay raises.

“The question is,” says Caputo-Pearl, “do we starve our public neighborhood schools so they (become) privatized, or do we re-invest in our public neighborhood schools for our students and for a thriving city?”

Stars Line Up to Perform at Loretta Lynn’s Nashville Birthday Bash

Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena will be the sight of Local 257 (Nashville, TN) member Loretta Lynn’s “all-star birthday celebration” on April 1. Among the confirmed performers for the Queen of Country’s 87th birthday will be AFM members Keith Urban, Alan Jackson, and Trisha Yearwood of Local 257, as well as George Strait of Local 433 (Austin, TX). Musical director is Local 257 member Dave Cobb.

“This is the first time I’ve ever had a birthday party!” the singer says. “My birthday wish has come true. The only other wish I have is that Keith Urban jumps out of my birthday cake!”

Lynn is up for a Grammy for her 41st album, Wouldn’t It Be Great, released in September 2018. The album was scheduled for release one year earlier, but had to be delayed and her remaining 2017 tour dates canceled as she recovered from serious health issues.

AFM Members Make 2018 Classical Music Statistics List

In January, Bachtrack released its annual classical music statistics, based on a database of 33,578 international performances in 2018. Unsurprisingly, Beethoven and Mozart topped the list for most performed composers, while Bernstein moved up to third place (from 43 in 2016) due to widespread celebrations of his centenary. Also, four of the five most performed works were by Bernstein.

Among most performed contemporary composers, Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) and 9-535 (Boston, MA) member John Williams came in second. Among the world’s busiest orchestras Chicago Symphony Orchestra (members of Local 10-208) ranked third, Philadelphia Orchestra (Local 77) fourth, New York Philharmonic (Local 802) fifth, Boston Symphony Orchestra (Local 9-535) seventh, and Los Angeles Philharmonic (Local 47) ninth.

Among busy conductors, Local 406 (Montreal, PQ) member Yannick Nézet Séguin ranked fourth. Among women conductors, Local 125 (Norfolk, VA) member JoAnn Falletta was the busiest and Local 802 (New York City) member Marin Alsop was second busiest.

Composition by AFM Member Designated Official State Hymn of Remembrance

hymn of remembrance

In December, the New York State legislature overwhelmingly approved a bill designating the hymn “Here Rests in Honored Glory,” by Donald Miller, the state’s official Hymn of Remembrance. Spearheaded by Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli, Senator John DeFrancisco, and Senator David Valeski, the bill was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo on December 28.

The Professor Emeritus (Onondaga Community College) and member of Local 78 (Syracuse, NY) composed the piece nearly three decades ago. It has gained prominence over the years and was officially adopted as the Hymn of Mourning by the veterans groups, the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Vietnam Veterans of America. Royalties from the composition are equally distributed between these two organizations. 

Scored for chorus, three trumpets, two trombones, tuba, timpani, and organ/piano, the work has become a standard hymn at ceremonies worldwide and is played annually on the anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy. It was recorded in 2006 by the North Carolina Master Chorale, which donated proceeds to the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), a national nonprofit organization that provides services to those who have lost a loved one on active duty.

In 2009, Miller was awarded the George Washington Medal of Honor from the Freedom Foundations at Valley Forge and the D-Day Medal from the Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy. Last fall, the hymn was performed at ceremonies commemorating the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended WWI.

Workers Suffer as Government Shutdown Continues

Furloughed government workers face increased difficulties as the longest government shutdown in US history continues. National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) Attorney Gregory O’Duden is representing around 150,000 people, among the 400,000 who have been deemed “expected,” meaning they are required to work without pay. They wanted the law compelling them to work deemed unconstitutional. US District Judge Richard J. Leon denied the request for a restraining order that would compel the government to pay its employees or allow them to stay home, saying the shutdown is a “political problem.”

Approximately 800,000 government workers have been impacted by the shutdown. At this writing, most have already missed at least one pay check. Many are seeking assistance from food banks, filing for unemployment benefits, and taking second jobs. Some fear losing their homes, going into debt, and being unable to support their families.