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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.

Revenue Drops as Music Accessibility Goes Up

The National Publishers Association announced that last year the US music publishing industry experienced a 2.5% drop in revenue from 2013 ($2.206 billion) to 2014 ($2.142 billion). At the organization’s annual meeting President David Israelite discussed ways to improve the bottom line, among them: redefining the economics of the streaming model to acquire a bigger piece of the pie from satellite radio stations and music streaming services and converting more free streaming subscribers into paid subscribers. He also expressed hope for Apple’s streaming service in improving music publishing revenue.

AFM Sues Studios over Illegal Reuse of Soundtrack Clips

The AFM is suing six major studios (Columbia, Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, Walt Disney, and Warner Brothers) for reusing film soundtrack clips in other films and television programs without appropriately compensating musicians.

“Our agreements obligate the studios to make additional payments to musicians when soundtracks are reused and AFM members are entitled to receive the benefit of that bargain,” says AFM President Ray Hair. “Our efforts to resolve these contract violations and missing payments have been unproductive, so we are looking to the courts for relief.”

The lawsuit cites numerous examples of the studios violating their collective bargaining agreements by reusing film scores without paying musicians including:

  • Columbia using music from Karate Kid in an episode of the television series Happy Endings;
  • Disney using music from Beauty and the Beast and The Muppet Movie in the television series The Neighbors;
  • Fox using music from Titanic in the film This Means War;
  • Paramount using music from Up in the Air in the film Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story;
  • Universal using music from Bourne Identity in the television series The Office; and
  • Warner Brothers using music from Battle for the Planet of the Apes in the film Argo.

In the lawsuit the AFM is seeking damages for all losses, including prejudgment interest. You can read the entire complaint on the AFM website.

Outstanding Local Legislative Work: Local 47 Uses Legislative Power to Secure Film Scoring Jobs

In addition to organizing and contract administration, engaging local and state legislatures remains an important pathway toward job security. This month, I want to begin reporting nationally on outstanding accomplishments made by local leaders and members who organize legislatively and politically to help secure the jobs and futures of our members and their families.

AFM Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) has been on a parallel path with federal legislative efforts to stem the tide of offshoring the sound scoring jobs. As the AFM National Legislative Office works with members of Congress to reform tax extender legislation focused on the film industry, Local 47 officers and members have successfully accomplished new state tax credit legislation designed to close loopholes in current law. The work of Local 47 and its coalition has been relentless and highly effective. The issue of runaway production is one that affects many AFM members and we commend Local 47 President John Acosta and all Local 47 officers and members for their tireless efforts. The following text from a Local 47 press release outlines their progress.

LOS ANGELES, CA (MARCH 30, 2015) — Thousands of California musicians suffering from the effects of runaway production are encouraged by a new bill that aims to close loopholes relating to music scoring in the California Film and Television Job Retention Act.

AB 1199, authored by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, introduces language that would, for the first time, 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 applaud this preliminary language as a significant step in the right direction, and are optimistic that further development of the bill will continue to improve upon the existing tax credit program as it relates to music scoring in California.

These initial proposals come as a result of significant inroads made by members of AFM Local 47, representing more than 7,000 Los Angeles musicians. The Local 47 political committee, which includes President John Acosta and rank-and-file members, has been working with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office and local legislators, including Nazarian, to continue efforts to amend California’s Film & Television Tax Credit Program in conjunction with the interests of musicians in the state.

Amended last September by AB 1839, the existing tax incentive program—which awards $330 million annually—offers a 20% credit on qualified expenses up to $100 million for feature films and television shows, and a 25% credit for relocated TV series and independent films. The law allows for an additional 5% credit of qualified expenditures when an unspecified portion of the music scoring and music-track recording by musicians is done in California. AB 1199 would for the first time require that a minimum of 75%, or an expenditure of $100,000, for music scoring and track-recording be done in-state for productions to qualify for the added credit, similar to a requirement for visual effects implemented by AB 1839.

While the current program does include an added bonus for post-production work done in-state, it does not make doing this work in California a requirement, and productions still receive significant credits, even if all post-production is done out of state. Musicians are happy that AB 1199 furthers continued efforts to ensure those production companies that benefit from California’s $330 million annual tax credit program are made accountable to hold professional musicians to the same industry standard as actors, writers, directors, grips, carpenters, drivers, and other industry workers.

“The magic of movies is remembered by the music,” says Nazarian. “When ‘Jaws’ roars onto the screen, it’s the music that flutters your heart. We need to support our homegrown talent in Los Angeles. This tax credit will ensure the creation and production of our musical magic remains and thrives in Los Angeles.”

AB 1199 is endorsed by all AFM locals in California through the California Conference, which comprises Locals 47, 353 (Long Beach, CA), 308 (Santa Barbara, CA), 7 (Orange County, CA), 325 (San Diego, CA), 6 (San Francisco, CA), 12 (Sacramento, CA), 424 (Richmond, CA), and 189 (Stockton, CA). To date, our quickly growing list of supporters also includes The Recording Academy (Los Angeles and San Francisco chapters), The Society of Composers & Lyricists, UFCW Local 770, American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers.

In a recent communication, Local 47 President Acosta indicated that, on May 18, Locals 6, 12, 47, and 50 came together to get AB1199 through the Committee on Tax & Revenue. The bill passed unanimously. See the article in the Hollywood Reporter.

In the coming months, I will report on other legislative work being done across the country on behalf of our musicians. We thank each of our locals for their attention to this work as we strive to build a solid legislative and political foundation in states across the country.

Copyright Extended and Anti-Union Bill C-377 Moves Forward


Prior to May of this year, the copyright on sound recordings in Canada extended 50 years after release. In a surprise move, the Harper government, without any public consultation or discussion, moved to extend protection to 70 years as part of the budget. Sadly, the change did not include authors and publishers, where copyright protects the song for the life of the author plus 50 years.

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Goals and Intentions

Success consists of having a good relationship with all the people that have traveled through life with us, especially those who have touched our inner soul and spirit. Thus, we must give the best of ourselves touching their souls and spirits. One of the main goals in our lives should be that we must live the best way we can, to love, forgive, and offer the best of who we are as the greatest musicians in the world. Most of the successful professional union musicians I have had the pleasure to share my musical journey with these many years were motivated with a goal to achieve. Remember, every person can always step into a life of greatness. Just be prepared to face challenges head-on; they will always lead you to a better place!

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local 4 music fund academic residency

Local 4 Music Fund Academic Residency Calendar Expands Offerings in 2015

dave mchenry

Guitarist Dave McHenry, member of Local 4, gives his approval to the next generation of sognwriters

The Local 4 Music Fund, a nonprofit organization run by Local 4 (Cleveland, OH), just concluded its fourth annual Academic Residency Calendar (ARC) partnership with local government and arts and philanthropic organizations to present music residencies in Cuyahoga and Lorain County, Ohio.

The generous support of the Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation, and additional grants from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, the Cyrus Eaton Foundation, and Green Family Foundation, have allowed ARC to expand its footprint this year. The educational partners cover every corner of Local 4’s jurisdiction.

“As supporters of both arts and education in Northeast Ohio, we value the experience and enrichment activities the Local 4 partners bring to students. Incorporating arts, in particular music, into the school day and learning process is critical in educating the whole child,” states Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation Trustee Holley Fowler Martens.

At the Rainey Institute, a three-day residency with the Percussion Marketing Council (PMC) brought percussion education and experience to more than 50 students. Three different programs brought a better understanding of the many unique instruments and sounds associated with drums, percussion, and player-performance.

Each student received his or her own shaker egg, provided by the Clevelander Drum Company. Complimentary educational DVDs and

local 4 music fund academic residency

In back (L to R) are Local 4 percussionists Dan Price, Jay Ganser, George Kiteley, and Karl Dustman with Rainey Institute students.

brochures were also distributed by the PMC and the NAMM Foundation. PMC Executive Director (and Local 4 member) Karl Dustman says, “The Percussion Marketing Council is honored to lend its support to the Local 4 Music Fund for this first-time drumming experience. The Rainey Institute is the perfect venue to reach as many children as possible.” The residency program included Dustman demonstrating basic instruction/playing techniques, a performance by Duo Anime, and an all-hands-on drum circle.

Roots of American Music educational artists presented a roots to rock program that helped students write and perform their own songs over the course of five classroom visits. Students were exposed to traditional American music styles such as blues, jazz, rock, and country. The students then selected a song style to accompany their own original lyrics. A final performance with a band of professional musicians allowed students to showcase their songs.

Blue Water Chamber Orchestra has been an annual partner since ARC’s inception. Highlights of their fall residencies at Saint Ignatius High School were: classroom instruction integrating music and theory into history, physics, and theology lessons; lunchtime performances by classical chamber ensembles; and all-school assemblies by the chamber orchestra.

Soprano pat harris

Soprano Pat Harris, accompanied by pianist Dan Maier, bassist Bob Fraser, and drummer Mark Grey, perform for attentive students at Campus International School.

This February, Waterloo Arts became an ARC partner for Black History Month at the Campus International School at Cleveland State University.
A program with soprano Pat Harris performing operatic arias, art, and popular songs of several American eras, from the Reconstruction Era to present day, was interspersed with historical anecdotes to bring multiple contexts to the music.

“In addition to providing our musicians with employment opportunities, the expansion of our nonprofit programs strengthens and improves the role of a labor union to its members and community. We are pleased to attract positive attention for the AFM, Local 4, and the organized labor movement in general,” says Local 4 President Leonard DiCosimo.

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.

Right to Work Folly

by Thomas J. Mackell, Jr., Ed.D. Special Advisor to the President,
International Longshoremen’s Association, AFL-CIO

The move to alter the laws to make all states “right to work” states is gaining momentum. State legislatures overloaded with conservative elected officials who have strong ties to the innocuously named American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are hell-bent on doing away with unions.

Recent successful legislative initiatives in Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin to enact “right to work” laws were humiliating to workers and their unions and, in the long run, will contribute dramatically to the suffering of workers and their families. There are another half-dozen states actually considering it.

The protagonists behind these campaigns emphasize that this trend bolsters individual rights. This is yet another example of symbol manipulation where words are supposed to provide comfort. This trend and the individual rights claim couldn’t be further from the truth.

It is hard to believe that there is an entire cadre of folks who are cheering on the sidelines and praising these accomplishments.

It is particularly egregious when the industrial history of these states was that they were strong, progressive fortresses for workers and their unions in their fight for economic justice.

The Holocaust survivor and great humanitarian Elie Wiesel once said: “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides.”

We should take sides. However, there is a very strong and not so silent group of folks spearheaded by the billionaire Koch brothers who are the driving force with mega-bucks behind the campaign to change the US in a very significant and destructive way.

Look at what campaigns they have initiated over the last couple of years since the US Supreme Court affirmed the Citizens United lawsuit resulting in a whole new political fundraising initiate that will destroy this nation as we know it. Their plan includes the following:

  • Create the Tea Party, which is now on a roll
  • Buy the Republican Party
  • Arm the Tea Party
  • Turn each against all
  • Buy teachers to indoctrinate students in the Koch philosophy
  • Destroy the US Postal Service
  • Alter the benefit programs for our war-torn veterans
  • Deport all illegal immigrants
  • Destroy Obamacare
  • Offer no minimum wage increases
  • Destroy Social Security
  • Reject new tax increases for the rich
  • Destroy Medicare and Medicaid
  • Support “right to work” legislation
  • Erase the Dodd-Frank regulations on financial institutions
  • Eradicate all defined benefit pension plans
  • Destroy unions
  • Fight global warming
  • Grind down all workers
  • Emasculate women’s rights
  • Purchase some governors
  • Purchase Congress
  • Buy the Senate
  • Destroy the legacy of FDR
  • Annihilate the social welfare state
  • Take away the right to vote and end democracy
  • Erode the American dream

That is a pretty bold and frightening “to do list.”

We must fight this with all of our fiber. Life as we know will no longer exist. Society will be left with only the princes and the paupers.

Since we cannot match their capital strength, we have to be more creative and activist in our initiatives.

Many international unions are committed to withholding political contributions from those who will support and vote for Fast Track, the new proposed trade deal. This is but one initiative.

The support for workers in this country by elected officials is fading. They have been purchased by the right-wing billionaires.

We have to go well beyond political contributions and appeal to the peoples’ sense of justice and equity and their economic well-being.

In a recent quote, D. Taylor, president of UNITE HERE said:

“Politics are important, but I think the most important thing is organizing workers and mobilizing workers. Mobilizing workers we represent, as well as those we don’t represent—because they’re both getting screwed.”

It is time for action. All of the groups that fight for social and economic justice must band together to fight the 1% and take up the fight to mobilize and protect what unions have won for workers over the last century. Our economic lives depend on it.

Take up the fight!

Labor Groups Oppose ISDS in Trade Agreements

The AFL-CIO and the Canadian Labor Congress (CLC) have reaffirmed their opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and Fast Track legislation that allows no amendments and limited debate on trade deals.

Among the provisions of the trade deals, the unions find investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) especially egregious. ISDS essentially allows foreign property owners to skip domestic courts and administrative procedures in seeking taxpayer reimbursement for losses to expected profits from laws, regulations, administrative decisions, and other government measures. They can instead sue the host country through a panel of private “arbitrators.” Labor groups contend that such extreme rights to challenge democracy are not good for domestic business, citizens, nor the rule of law. The AFL-CIO and CLC say they “will not cease in our efforts to promote good jobs, raising wages, strong social safety nets, state-of-the-art public services and infrastructure, and an end to corporate power grabs like ISDS in all pending trade and investment agreements.”

For more information about Fast Track in trade deals and why groups oppose it visit: www.stopfasttrack.com. To sign a petition to tell Congress to oppose Fast Track visit: www.nofasttrack.com.