Tag Archives: review

Small Spark of Hope for Ontario Status

The 420-page final report Ontario’s The Changing Workplaces Review, by C. Michael Mitchel and John C. Murray, was released in late May. As previously reported, the review is designed to provide a framework for upcoming changes to the Ontario Employment Standards Act and the Ontario Labour Relations Act. The CFM provided submissions and recommendations, specifically stressing that musicians are not sufficiently protected under existing laws, and that the only resolve for a largely freelance community is provincial status of the artist legislation. To that end, our submissions included a comprehensive comparison of federal status and Quebec status, as well as suggested language.

While arts and entertainment was certainly not centre stage in the review, it did find its way into the report in section 11.6.3, page 364, describing how artist groups have “… urged us to adopt some of the philosophy and general approaches of the Quebec status of the artist act, modified to some degree …” While no direct credit is given to the CFM, footnote 498 is a direct reference, stating “… very late in the process, we received a draft model act from one group but there was no opportunity to discuss it, much less consult with respect to its contents …”

On the negative side, the employers have been working hard at recommending the status quo. For example, the Canadian Media Producers’ Association (CMPA) made this statement: “… the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA), which is involved in English language television, film, and digital media production, has warned us about the high costs of the Quebec system, including constant negotiations, labour relations instability and competition, and a lack of certainty, which is antithetical to the needs of a project-oriented, time-sensitive industry … the association argues that the sector is already heavily unionized, highly organized on a craft and sectoral basis, and successfully serves the needs of the various interest groups and, therefore, should not be interfered with.”

More importantly, the report goes on to seemingly disregard the CMPA and finalize the section with this recommendation: “… that Ontario conduct an inquiry and consultation with all affected interest groups to examine potential changes to the laws, which affect how personal services and labour are provided in the arts and entertainment sectors of the economy, for the purposes of supporting the artistic endeavour in those sectors and those who work in them.” While consisting of only a small speck in a large document, this capsulizes the most significant recognition of artists’ dilemma with collective bargaining to date, and with it, a glimmer of hope.

CFM General Counsel Alan Minsky generously summarized other aspects of the report. Proposed changes include:

1) Raising the general minimum wage to $15 an hour by January 1, 2019.

2) Changing various features of union certification and first contract dispute resolution procedures, including:

  • extending card-based certification to the temporary help agency industry, the building services sector, and the home care and community services industry, where a union can show 55% support in the proposed bargaining unit;
  • allowing unions to access employee lists and obtain employee contact information where they can show 20% support in the proposed bargaining unit;
  • making access to remedial certification and first contract arbitration easier, giving the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) more power to ensure votes are conducted fairly, and allow telephone and electronic voting;
  • providing just cause protection from the date of certification to the date of the first collective agreement.

3) Important changes to regulations governing unions, including:

  • successor rights for building services contracts;
  • empowering the OLRB to consolidate bargaining units;
  • strengthened protections for striking workers, including grievable just cause protection and a right to priority in rehire, even where a strike exceeds six months;
  • increased penalties for violating the Labour Relations Act;
  • reviewing exemptions to the Labour Relations Act (no immediate changes are set out in legislation).
  • 4) Improvements to minimum employment standards,
  • three weeks of paid vacation for employees with five or more years of service;
  • changes to simplify public holiday pay calculations and clarify how overtime is calculated when an employee has multiple jobs with the same employer;
  • equal pay for part-time, casual, temporary, and seasonal workers relative to full-time workers performing the same work, and for temporary help agency workers relative to permanent workers, subject to certain exceptions;
  • enhancements to Personal Emergency Leave (PEL) and other leave provisions;
  • new scheduling protections for workers;
  • several changes to Employment Standards Act exemptions and a review process for remaining exemptions.

5) Measures to provide better enforcement of employment standards, including combatting the misclassification of employees as independent contractors.

Now begins the process of providing Ontario locals with a script with which to go to their MPP and make the most of this slim opportunity to add compulsive collective bargaining as a component to the CFM toolbox.

AFM Year in Review: Highlights from 2016

AFM International officers are sworn in by President Emeritus Mark Tully Massagli at the close of the 100th AFM Convention. (L to R): AFM IEB members John Acosta, Tina Morrison, Dave Pomeroy, Tino Gagliardi, and Joe Parente; Secretary-Treasurer Jay Blumenthal; Vice President from Canada Alan Willaert; Vice President Bruce Fife; and President Ray Hair.

AFM International officers are sworn in by President Emeritus Mark Tully Massagli at the close of the 100th AFM Convention. (L to R): AFM IEB members John Acosta, Tina Morrison, Dave Pomeroy, Tino Gagliardi, and Joe Parente; Secretary-Treasurer Jay Blumenthal; Vice President from Canada Alan Willaert; Vice President Bruce Fife; and President Ray Hair.

This December caps off another busy year for the AFM. In addition to a number of key negotiations and lobbying for legislation beneficial to our members, 2016 marked the historic 100th AFM Convention, held in June.

This convention will be remembered, not only for its historical significance, but also for the forward-thinking agenda the AFM put forth. Delegates walked away with renewed faith of what could be accomplished together. AFM President Ray Hair’s “team unity” now includes newly elected board member John Acosta, president of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA), as Vince Trombetta stepped down from the IEB. Jay Blumenthal, previously Symphonic Services director, replaced Sam Folio as the AFM’s secretary-treasurer.

Among the nine recommendations and 22 resolutions debated at the convention, Resolution 20—“Extras and Subs in Orchestras”—held historic significance. It addressed the disparity in wages and working conditions for substitute and extra musicians in many collective bargaining agreements. An amended resolution established a new provision in the section of the AFM Bylaws “… musicians who work for full-time orchestral employers and their locals are urged to negotiate and/or maintain parity in wages and benefits for substitute and extra musicians performing with those orchestras.”

AFM Works with Worldwide Partners to Address Global Issues

At the 21st FIM Congress in Reykjavik, Iceland (L to R)   FIM General Secretary Benoît Machuel, AFM Vice President from Canada Alan Willaert, AFM Executive Board Member and Local 802 (New York City) President Tino Gagliardi;  FIM President John Smith; AFM International Vice President  and Local 99 (Portland, OR) President Bruce Fife.

At the 21st FIM Congress in Reykjavik, Iceland (L to R)
FIM General Secretary Benoît Machuel, AFM Vice President from Canada Alan Willaert, AFM Executive Board Member and Local 802 (New York City) President Tino Gagliardi;
FIM President John Smith; AFM International Vice President
and Local 99 (Portland, OR) President Bruce Fife.

The AFM made a commitment to continuing its participation as a nongovernmental organization in the activities of World Intellectual Properties Organization (WIPO). In January, AFM In-House Counsel Jennifer Garner reported on her representation of the AFM at the December 2015 session of the WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights in Geneva. The AFM took the lead in opening the discussion of fairness in digital streaming and the diversity of national laws on copyright.

The International Federation of Musicians (FIM) held its 21st Congress in Reykjavik, Iceland, June 7-9. Vice President from Canada Alan Willaert, International Executive Board member Tino Gagliardi, and International Vice President Bruce Fife represented the AFM at FIM. Of particular interest to the AFM was achieving a more representative voice within the leadership of FIM. To that end, AFM President Ray Hair was elected to the Presidium, the highest executive body of FIM, and Canada gained a seat on the FIM Executive Committee.

Working with our coalition partners, for the past 10 years the AFM has lobbied for protections for musicians traveling internationally with musical instruments. Working with the US Department of the Interior and with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), a federal Musical Instrument Passport was introduced. It is specific to the needs of professional musicians traveling with instruments containing CITES related materials. The passport allows musicians to easily travel multiple times in and out of the US with their affected instruments.

Later, September 24-October 5, AFM Legislative-Political Director Alfonso Pollard attended the Conference of the Parties (CoP) world wildlife conference meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa. The meeting brought together 183 CITES signatory countries, as well as international organizations, to address challenges in the management of instruments that contain plant and animal materials controlled under CITES. As a result of our coalition’s work, US Endangered Species Act regulations now contain an exemption relating to legally crafted, legally owned instruments containing protected species.

The AFM has developed two manuals to support traveling AFM members: A Guide to Traveling with Musical Instruments and a pocket-sized handbook, developed in cooperation with the Carry-on Coalition. Both can be found on the AFM.org website.

AFM Lobbies for Musicians’ Interests in Washington, DC

(L to R) National Symphony Orchestra Violist and then ICSOM Governing Board Member Jennifer Mondie; State Department Program Officer Julia Gomez-Nelson; Chief Cultural Programs Division for the State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Amy Bliss-Iacoella; AFM President Ray Hair; and AFM Legislative-Political and Diversity Director Alfonso Pollard in Washington, DC, during Arts Advocacy Season 2016.

(L to R) National Symphony Orchestra Violist and then ICSOM Governing Board Member Jennifer Mondie; State Department Program Officer Julia Gomez-Nelson; Chief Cultural Programs Division for the State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Amy Bliss-Iacoella; AFM President Ray Hair; and AFM Legislative-Political and Diversity Director Alfonso Pollard in Washington, DC, during Arts Advocacy Season 2016.

The Obama Administration stepped up federal monitoring of employers who hire union-busting consultants. The new rule requires employers to report the use of consultants and their tactics, regardless of direct engagement with employees.

The death of Justice Antonin Scalia meant a number of rulings were in flux, including Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (CTA), which attacks the funding model of public-sector unions. A vacancy on the bench meant that the Court’s ruling was a tie and the law reverted back to a past decision in the lower court, which was in the union’s favor. 

In 2016, the AFM supported the creation of specific programs to help entrepreneurs in the arts. In March, the Comprehensive Resources for Entrepreneurs in the Arts to Transform the Economy Act of 2016 (the CREATE Act) included a host of new arts-related tax proposals, in addition to arts-related proposal expansions into federal programs. Ray Hair and Alfonso Pollard committed to help members look for expanded opportunities with the federal government. The National Endowment for the Arts, the Smithsonian Institution, and the US Department of State  made commitments to include the AFM in their deliberations.

The AFM National Legislative Office continues to work with members of Congress to reform tax extender legislation focused on the film industry, while Local 47 officers and members have successfully lobbied for new state tax credit legislation designed to close loopholes in current law. AB 1199 introduced language that would require a specified amount of the total expenditures relating to music post-production be done in California, in order for a production to qualify for an added rebate. Musicians are optimistic that further development of the bill will improve upon the existing tax credit program as it relates to music scoring.

As a member of the musicFIRST Coalition, the AFM worked tirelessly with nationally recognized performance rights organizations toward passage of the Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2015. It would establish a new benchmark in the protection of rights for creators whose sound recordings are performed on AM/FM terrestrial radio. In May, more than 40 artists flew into the nation’s capital to advocate their support of this vital piece of legislation before members of Congress. Thousands of artists from around the world, including AFM featured artists and backup musicians, could  benefit from this legislation.

New Agreements/Negotiations Protect Musicians

Members of AFM Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) and other supporting unions such as UNITE HERE!, demonstrated and leafleted in front of Warner Bros. after discovering evidence of a “dark”  scoring session.

Members of AFM Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) and other supporting unions such as UNITE HERE!, demonstrated and leafleted in front of Warner Bros. after discovering evidence of a “dark”
scoring session.

December 2015 saw more than 50 AFM Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) members, workers from other unions, and supporters demonstrate outside Warner Bros. against the exploitation of musicians. The group protested nonunion activity on the studio property by permitting a “dark” date by Cinema Scoring, an employer with whom AFM Local 47 has a labor dispute. News of the dark scoring session prompted swift reaction and support from the union’s labor community allies.

June 1 saw the ratification of an AFM agreement with representatives of public television employers, including WGBH, WETA, WTTW, Austin City Limits, Sesame Workshop, and Thirteen Productions for a successor National Public Television Agreement. Aside from significant wage increases, highlights include provisions that govern the use of new media that requires signatory public television employers to share with musicians the revenue they receive from certain forms of new media exploitation and a groundbreaking clip use formula. The agreement extends three years through May 31, 2019.

During the summer, negotiations began with representatives of ABC, CBS, and NBC for a new Television Videotape Agreement. Shortly after the conclusion of that initial round of negotiations, the AFM presented the networks with a comprehensive information request that will greatly assist the Federation with future meetings. In addition, negotiations continued with the major record companies for a new Sound Recording Labor Agreement (SRLA). The major focus in these negotiations has been on the licensing of sound recordings in theatrical motion pictures and television films, as well as streaming of SRLA content.

An agreement was reached with the producers of the Amazon original series Transparent to cover musicians, arrangers, orchestrators, copyists and conductors guaranteeing them fair compensation and protections. Producers at Pictrow swiftly agreed to sign onto The Made for New Media Productions Sideletter of the Basic Television Motion Picture Agreement after musicians from Local 47 spoke publicly and demonstrated. Unlike the show’s actors, writers, director, and crew, musicians were not originally covered under a union contract.

AFM Theatre Musicians
Meet at Summit

AFM Director of Touring, Theatre and Immigration Services Michael Manley hosted the first Theatre Musician’s Summit in Chicago. Geared toward concerns of local and traveling theatre musicians, the group discussed challenges and opportunities for professional theatre musicians today. The conference provided a baseline for long-term AFM strategies for championing live music in live theatre.

Among theatre triumphs this year, the NLRB ruled to allow a union election at the Wang Theatre. Two separate employers for The Legend of Zelda—Symphony of the Goddesses agreed to file proper union contracts for their productions after having been placed on the AFM’s “Unfair List.”

This year, the AFM and the Broadway League/Disney Theatrical Productions negotiated successor agreements to Pamphlet B and the Short Engagement Touring Theatrical Musicals (SET) Agreement. The new agreements include improvements that recognize the value the players bring to touring musical theatre productions. You can read more about this agreement in Ray Hair’s column on page 2 of this issue.

Symphonies See Gains, Others Reject Inadequate Proposals

After a nine-year battle, the Lancaster Symphony Musicians, members of Local 294, supported by the AFM, won the right to organize. In May, the decision let stand an earlier ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) finding that the musicians are employees and therefore eligible to organize. While symphony management contended the musicians were independent contractors, the judge noted that the symphony “regulates virtually all aspects of the musicians’ performance.”

Other orchestras signed positive agreements, sometimes restoring pay and benefits lost in earlier concessions. In April, the musicians of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, members of Local 257, ratified a two-year contract reopener, three months ahead of schedule, that provides raises in the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 seasons, returning salaries to 2013 levels by early 2018.   

Among orchestras signing new contracts or extensions with raises and/or increased benefits were: Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (Local 92), Baltimore Symphony (Local 40-543), Delaware Symphony Orchestra (Local 21), Grand Rapids Symphony (Local 56), Grant Park Orchestra (Local 10-208), Indianapolis Symphony (Local 3), Kansas City Symphony (Local 34-627), Las Vegas Philharmonic (Local 369), National Symphony Orchestra (Local 161-710), New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (Local 16-248), San Diego Symphony (Local 325), Oregon Symphony (Local 99), and San Francisco Ballet Orchestra (Local 6).

Unfortunately, musicians of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, members of Local  400, accepted wage concessions to save their orchestra after management threatened a shut-down. A two-day strike canceled The Philadelphia Orchestra’s season-opening gala, but a new agreement was reached that made inroads in restoring some concessions made by musicians after the orchestra’s bankruptcy in 2012. Grant Park Orchestra also briefly went on strike before signing a new agreement.

Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra went on strike September 8 after voting down a contract proposal that included pay cuts. That strike continues. Musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra went on strike September 30, but came to a new agreement with management November 23. (See page 10).

Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra musicians rally outside the Tarrant County Courthouse.

Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra musicians rally outside the Tarrant County Courthouse.

Canadian Issues from 2016

Last February, the Arts Require Timely Service Act of 2016 (ARTS Act) was introduced to codify O and P visa processing times. Then, in March, US Representatives introduced the Bringing Entertainment Artists to the States (BEATS) Act to streamline the process for Canadian musicians crossing the border to perform. The AFM focused on this issue for months, with meetings between the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Alfonso Pollard, along with other unions.

In spring, the AFM first became aware of the possibility of the USCIS raising fees for P and O visas of Canadian musicians traveling to the US to perform, despite the continued long delays in processing times. Though the AFM and CFM in Canada spoke out against the increase, one will take effect this month. (See page 7 for details.)

The Music Policy Coalition (MPC) brought together diverse groups to achieve a single voice to discuss Canada’s Copyright Act and copyright reform. New laws should reflect the technological and economic reality of the world Canadians live in, including Internet Protocol laws to establish a level responsibly-governed playing field.

The Ontario Government released an interim report titled “Changing Workplaces Review.” It contains a synopsis of submissions from various unions and organizations pertaining to the Employment Standards Act, and the Labour Relations Act, which may no longer be relevant in the workplace—specifically to workers in the audiovisual/media industry. The review provides an opportunity to make positives changes in how musicians are viewed and treated in the workforce, and the remedies available to them when problems arise. Introduction of a provincial Status of the Artist Act would enhance the recommended changes and simplify the relationship between employers and musicians who are traditionally self-employed contractors.

Dossiers canadiens de 2016

En février dernier, le projet de loi intitulé Arts Require Timely Service Act of 2016 (loi ARTS) a une fois de plus été déposé par les sénateurs Hatch et Leahy. Il s’agit d’une initiative de longue date visant à codifier les délais de traitement des demandes de visa O et P. En mars, les représentants au Congrès Trott, Collins et Welch ont déposé le projet de loi Bringing Entertainment Artists to the States (loi BEATS) en vue de simplifier le processus d’entrée aux États-Unis des musiciens canadiens qui doivent y livrer une prestation. L’AFM et d’autres syndicats et associations du secteur des arts font pression en permanence pour atténuer les obstacles auxquels se heurtent leurs membres canadiens qui souhaitent entrer aux États-Unis.

Au printemps, l’AFM a été informée de la possibilité que l’USCIS augmente les frais associés aux visas P et O pour les musiciens canadiens qui traversent la frontière pour faire une prestation, malgré de longs délais de traitement. L’AFM s’est fortement opposée à la hausse pendant la période de commentaires dans l’espoir que l’USCIS la rejette. Malheureusement, la hausse entrera en vigueur à la fin de décembre (voir l’article à la page 7).

La Music Policy Coalition (MPC) réunit divers groupes qui s’expriment d’une seule et même voix sur les dossiers relatifs à la révision législative de la Loi sur le droit d’auteur du Canada. La nouvelle législation doit tenir compte de la réalité technologique et économique de la société canadienne, et inclure notamment une réglementation des protocoles Internet pour assurer une situation équitable pour tous.

Le gouvernement de l’Ontario a publié un rapport intérimaire sur l’Examen portant sur l’évolution des milieux de travail. Le document résume les points de vue énoncés par des syndicats et d’autres entités au sujet d’éléments de la Loi sur les normes d’emploi (LNE) et de la Loi sur les relations de travail (LRT) qui ne correspondent plus à la réalité actuelle du marché du travail, en particulier pour les travailleurs du secteur des médias et de l’audiovisuel. L’examen offre l’occasion de modifier positivement la façon dont les musiciens sont perçus et leurs conditions de travail, de même que les solutions qui s’offrent à eux en cas de conflit avec leur employeur. L’adoption d’une loi provinciale sur le statut de l’artiste viendrait améliorer les changements recommandés et simplifier la relation entre les employeurs et les musiciens qui sont depuis toujours des travailleurs autonomes.

Songs of the 2000s

Songs of the 2000s: 70 Songs with Online Audio Backing Tracks

Songs of the 2000sThis book from Hal Leonard’s New Decade Series provides a synopsis of iconic songs from 2000-2010 for piano, vocals, and guitar. Each volume in the series includes sheet music and audio that is accessed online for download or streaming. The 2000s features more than 70 influential hits, including: “Bad Day,” “Beautiful,” “Before He Cheats,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” “Breakaway,” “Breathe,” “Chasing Cars,” “Chasing Pavements,” “The Climb,” “Clocks,” “Complicated,” “Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me),” “Fireflies,” “Hey There Delilah,” “How to Save a Life,” “I Gotta Feeling,” “I’m Yours,” “Just Dance,” “Love Story,” “100 Years,” “Photograph,” “Rehab,” “Stacy’s Mom,” “A Thousand Miles,” “Umbrella,” “Unwritten,” “Viva La Vida,” “Waiting on the World to Change,” “With Arms Wide Open,” “You Raise Me Up,” “You’re Beautiful,” and more.

Songs of the 2000s: 70 Songs with Online Audio Backing Tracks, Hal Leonard Corporation, www.halleonard.com

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. 

JD-XA Analog/Digital Synthesizer

JD-XA Analog/Digital Synthesizer

JD-XA Analog/Digital SynthesizerThe JD-XA Analog/Digital Synthesizer from Roland is essentially two synths in one. Its analog and digital engines can be used side-by-side or layered together. The analog side features a four-part engine with true analog filters. On the digital side, a four-part, 64-voice sound engine provides expressive and natural sounds. Each analog and digital part is equipped with an MFX processor that offers 67 effect types. Other features include velocity-sensitive keyboard, a 16-track patter sequencer, backlit controls, built-in mic input, and MIDI I/O.


The Worship Bass Book: Bass, Espresso, and the Art of Groove

Worship Bass BookThe Worship Bass Book is a fun, informal, practical resource for bassists playing in the worship environment. It covers a broad range of considerations to effectively function as a rhythm section for a team-oriented worship group, plus valuable instruction and helpful direction regarding bass techniques, musical concepts, and important relational considerations for any bass player, in or outside of the worship realm. Topics covered include musical phrasing, tools of the trade, fingerboard familiarity, musical styles, slap and tap techniques, bass and drum synergy, solo bass arranging, real-world groove lessons, and more.

The Worship Bass Book: Bass, Espresso, and the Art of Groove, by Norm Stockton, www.halleonard.com.

Anniversary Amps

Peavey Anniversary Amps

Anniversary AmpsPeavey is celebrating its golden anniversary by offering two limited-edition commemorative amplifiers. The 50th anniversary 6505 Plus head is housed in a special gold chassis and features 120 watts; six 12AX7s; four 6L6s; footswitchable lead/rhythm channels; effects loop; three-band EQ; resonance and presence controls; and four, eight, or 16 ohms. The 50th anniversary 30 112 combo offers the same specifications as the revered classic tweed model, but in a striking black Tolex and gold chassis. Features include: genuine spring reverb with level control; pre- and post-gain controls on lead channel; external speaker capability; optional footswitches; 30 watts (rms)
into 16 or eight ohms; two-channel preamp; footswitchable channels, reverb, and boost; four EL84s, three 12AX7s; 12-inch Blue Marvel speaker; and effects loop. Models are being produced in limited Anniversary Ampsquantities and will only be available until the end of the year.


MPTF: Building New Relationships in Its 68th Year

by Dan Beck, Trustee, Music Performance Trust Fund

MPTF is proud to continue its support of music education in the schools. Through MPTF support, the Allegria Ensemble recently performed a program called “How to Listen to Classical Music: What to Know to Enjoy the Show” in five Centre County schools. Above, Allegria Ensemble performs at Houserville Elementary School in State College, Pennsylvannia, August 5, 2014.

MPTF is proud to continue its support of music education in the schools. Through MPTF support, the Allegria Ensemble recently performed a program called “How to Listen to Classical Music: What to Know to Enjoy the Show” in five Centre County schools. Above, Allegria Ensemble performs at Houserville Elementary School in State College, Pennsylvannia, August 5, 2014.

On April 30, 2015, the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) wrapped up its fiscal year for the 67th time in its storied history. The 2014-2015, 12-month period was an eventful one. We co-sponsored  2,777 performances throughout the US and Canada—music festivals, community programs, educational initiatives, and outreach for seniors. This was an increase of 663 events over the previous year. More than 17,000 musicians’ payments were made to supplement their income. And, hopefully, the value and importance of continued live music has been meaningfully reinforced.

While there were many highlights this past year, we did create a few “firsts.” Our biggest and most ambitious initiative was the launch of MusicianFest, which put musicians in 500 senior centers across the US in just four  months. Not only do these events entertain, but they also comprehensively support the knowledge that live music has a physical and psychological impact on the well-being of older citizens.


National Profile with MusicianFest

MPTF stage

The MPTF co-sponsored a concert in Tulsa, Oklahoma, July 16, 2014. The theme of the concert was Movie Night. Starlight Band played popular movie themes from past and present. A screening of a silent short film, accompanied by live theatre organ music, followed. More than 1,100 people enjoyed this phenomenal concert!

Partnering with the National Council on Aging validates the need for this type of program. MusicianFest carries through to the end of this month. Though performances may appear to be a small at the local level, in the aggregate, they give the MPTF a national profile to potentially attract interest from corporate sponsors, which would help to sustain the organization.

We appreciate the support of Robert Jaffe, trustee of the Film Funds, who helped us make MusicianFest possible. We, at the MPTF, have come to depend upon the Film Funds for new initiatives. The Film Funds helped us partner with the Broadway League to create and present a free live concert in Shubert Alley to kick-off Tony Week in New York City. Performers from 20 Broadway musicals joined a 12-piece band that surprised and rocked thousands of fans on a matinée day, in the heart of the theater district. Emphasizing the excitement and the talent of musical theater is an added stimulant to keeping the challenging theater business prosperous. It worked so well in 2014 that we did it again just a couple of weeks ago.

The MPTF and the Film Funds have provided similar vital support to the Chicago Lyric Opera. An early September annual free opera performance, Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park, attracts more than 15,000 people, galvanizing interest in the entire opera season in the Windy City. It introduces opera to new audiences and provides access for many who could never afford tickets to such an illustrious event. It is the cultural impact through live music that creates deep, social fiber in the soul of our communities.

AFM members should elaborate and amplify upon this short list of events. It is an effort and a tradition that has been shared for 67 years.

Revenue Challenges

Boston Brass performed a wonderful concert on July 12, 2014, in Crested Butte, Colorado.

Boston Brass performed a wonderful concert on July 12, 2014, in Crested Butte, Colorado.

However, it is important that we also share the challenges that continue to face the MPTF, as well as the overall professional music community. Our revenue continues to drop precipitously. The sharp, downward trajectory of general signatory revenue has averaged approximately 22% every year, for at least the past six years. This year that revenue abruptly fell by nearly 30%.

How does the MPTF survive this dramatic, continuous, downward trend? We continue to cut overhead costs. This past year, we reduced those costs by $180,000, or roughly 20%. The dramatic change in the operation of the MPTF is best exemplified in the staffing. Just over three years ago, there were 15 employees. We now operate with three. How much further can we cut?

What this means for the future is that our grant funding is getting tighter. This fiscal year, our grant budget will be $500,000, which is equal to our grant disbursements this past year. Along with trying to maintain the overall amount of our grants, our primary job is to protect the high quality annual events that are under constant threat by our revenue reductions. Reality tells us that we cannot entertain new grant investments without eliminating previous commitments. Essentially, all of our efforts to support new events or initiatives have come through the generosity of the Film Funds. However, they too face revenue challenges this year and in the years ahead.

Corporate Sponsorship

Our strategy with MusicianFest was to showcase a comprehensive, need-based initiative that has branding capabilities. We are hopeful that, with the initial success of this campaign, we can finally interest a corporate partner to invest. These are not easy sells. This is an area that the MPTF did not explore to any great degree until the most recent two years, when the urgency became paramount. Attracting and securing corporate partners by building our value and our profile is essential. We are making strides in our efforts, but it is a long process.

Will revenue return to more sustainable levels from the signatories? We hope so, but it is imperative that we not rely on it. Reliance on a single source was a luxury when the marketplace was flush with CDs, cassettes, and vinyl. This is the new world of digital, and unfortunately, the MPTF receives only ancillary income from digital that amounts to roughly 3% of our total revenue.

What survives 67 years in modern society? It must be something of deep value to the community and to those directly involved with it. We believe those standards to be true of the MPTF. However, it will take the efforts of everyone concerned to keep MPTF sustainable and to continue to provide the utmost value to communities across North America. Although we are an independent foundation, we look forward to a greater bond with our event partners, including the musicians, educators, healthcare professionals, music industry executives and organizations, and community leaders who understand the importance and impact of live music performances on our culture and society.

Dorado cajons

Remo’s Dorado cajons

Cali Cajon

Dorado cajonsRemo’s Dorado cajons are designed and handcrafted in California using birch wood and two sets of three high-quality compression springs. Traditional fixed faceplate construction seals the drum completely to enable bass tones to resonate naturally. Remo’s new design forces the coil springs against the back of the faceplate for optimum spring tension. There is no need to adjust wires and replacing a set of coil springs is quick and easy with the “Quick Wedge” design. Simply slide the set off the precisely angled ledges, and transform the Flamenco style Dorado cajon into a traditional Peruvian cajon with pure bass tones. Dorado is available in all natural or amber body with a natural face.