Now is the right time to become an American Federation of Musicians member. From ragtime to rap, from the early phonograph to today's digital recordings, the AFM has been there for its members. And now there are more benefits available to AFM members than ever before, including a multi-million dollar pension fund, excellent contract protection, instrument and travelers insurance, work referral programs and access to licensed booking agents to keep you working.

As an AFM member, you are part of a membership of more than 80,000 musicians. Experience has proven that collective activity on behalf of individuals with similar interests is the most effective way to achieve a goal. The AFM can negotiate agreements and administer contracts, procure valuable benefits and achieve legislative goals. A single musician has no such power.

The AFM has a proud history of managing change rather than being victimized by it. We find strength in adversity, and when the going gets tough, we get creative - all on your behalf.

Like the industry, the AFM is also changing and evolving, and its policies and programs will move in new directions dictated by its members. As a member, you will determine these directions through your interest and involvement. Your membership card will be your key to participation in governing your union, keeping it responsive to your needs and enabling it to serve you better. To become a member now, visit


Vice President from Canada


Alan Willaert – AFM Vice President from Canada

    As Streaming Increases, the Rights of Performers Internationally Is Making Progress

    A recent article in Music Business Worldwide quoted some impressive statistics released in BuzzAngle’s yearly report. For the first time, on-demand streams in the United States eclipsed the one trillion mark, with 705.9 billion being audio and 304.1 billion video. Over the previous year, that represents a total increase of 32% in audio and 10.6% in video.

    Meanwhile, actual sales continued to fall

    • Online song sales were down 26.3% to 295.1 million

    • Online album sales were down 23.2% to 93 million

    • Digital album sales declined 26.6% to 37.3 million

    In terms of physical product, CD sales fell 26% to
    44.9 million units; cassette sales were down 11.5% to 104,600 units. Vinyl
    sales rose 10.5% to 10.7 million units.

    Post Malone was the most-streamed artist of 2019
    with 6.7 billion on-demand streams, edging Drake at 6.3 billion. However, Drake
    remains the most-streamed artist over the last five years, with 28 billion
    on-demand streams, versus Post Malone at 15.9 billion.

    Some other statistics reveal surprising facts. The
    top five artists in 2019 (Post Malone, Drake, Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, and
    YoungBoy Never Broke Again) accounted for 21.8 billion in total audio streams.
    For the first nine months of 2019, Spotify’s “cost of revenues” (mainly made up
    of royalty payments to rightsholders) was 4.13 billion. If the top 10 artists
    received a cut of that money in line with their US streaming market share
    (5.09%), they would have been paid $210 million between them.

    However, in 2018, the market share for the top 10
    artists was 6.66%, or $224 million—indicating a greater share of the total
    streams for the year before. Meanwhile, Spotify’s cost of revenues leapt up by
    $760 million for 2019, raising the question, where did that additional money

    Mysteries such as this are the subject of the
    streaming conferences sponsored by the International Federation of Musicians
    (FIM), the latest one being attended by President Hair and myself and hosted by
    the Musicians’ Federation of India in early December. Also being compared were
    the rights that performers have in that part of the world and other countries.
    As has been stated before, there are international treaties in place (such as
    the WIPO Performance and Phonograms Treaty) that many countries have signed and
    ratified; however, compliance may be quite different in each due to “national
    treatment,” which is the ability for a country to adopt a higher or lower
    compliance, within a given range.

    While the major recording labels have offices and
    activities in almost all of these countries, including India, only the AFM has
    negotiated a collective agreement governing the payments and benefits for
    musicians. This creates extreme variances on how musicians are dealt with by
    the labels, which affects not only direct payments but royalty streams from
    back catalogue distribution. While no easy task, nor a short-term goal, one of
    the objectives of FIM is to bring the standards closer together through
    lobbying for statutory laws as well as union activity.

    One need only look at the host country’s scene to
    determine how vastly different the industry is. In India, 80% of popular music
    “breaks” because it is contained in a Bollywood film, while the reverse is true
    elsewhere—music that is already popular is licensed into television and motion

    Another anomaly experienced by our hosts is the fact that
    the union representing vocalists has been extremely active, lobbied for
    adherence to international treaties, and forced employers to comply through
    court action, thereby ensuring singers receive proper royalties for the use and
    repurposing of their product. However, the musicians’ union is much further
    behind on its political activity, and, to date, has been unable to leverage the
    same laws. Through the work done at this latest conference—and in no small part
    due to AFM President Hair’s influence—there is now dialogue between the two
    performers’ unions, with a potential for the musicians to share in the royalty
    streams to which they are, by law, entitled. In India, that’s a huge step
    forward, and internationally, real progress.

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    2020: Fighting For the Right to Make a Living

    Pour voir cet article en français, cliquez ici.

    Much has been
    written in the past several months, by President Hair and others, about the
    motion picture/TV film negotiations that have commenced once again in Los
    Angeles; however, it cannot be stressed enough how important this round is. At
    stake are residuals on New Media, a form of broadcast which has risen above the
    others as being the choice for consumption in the future. On the one hand, we
    have the industry, which is loath to give up even the most miniscule amount of
    their vast profits, simply because corporate greed is a real thing. On the
    other hand, we have the musicians who do the film and TV work, collectively
    looking at that future in dismay.

    The players have
    done their research. They can see that diminishing music budgets mean less
    union work as composers are forced to go dark, record off-shore, or simply
    produce music “in the box.” Where, then, will sufficient earnings be found to
    sustain a viable career in music? The simple answer is that fees must be tied
    to the back end—as the content generates profits through distribution,
    subscriptions, or advertising revenue, a piece should be carved off for those
    involved in the music.

    While some negotiations prove to be anti-climactic,
    such is not the case this time. The musicians are engaged—eager to participate
    in both the bargaining and the garnering of public support. The fact that so
    many show up with their instruments at rallies is inspiring. The tour bus,
    carrying musicians to their energetic performances in front of industry
    executives’ homes on an early Sunday morning, is nothing short of fantastic.
    While the prize is still not within sight, these dedicated players have
    certainly gotten the attention of Hollywood money.

    Of course, Los Angeles is not the only location where the digital age has wrought devastation. In a recent CBC Sunday Edition, Matt Zimbel of Local 406 (Montreal, PQ), member of the jazz super-group Manteca, had this to say: “The digital age has given us two ‘gifts.’ The technology used for playback sounds terrible and our recorded music no longer has any monetary value.”

    Matt then
    proceeds to plant his tongue firmly in cheek and explain to a friend how the
    record business is much more profitable than film and television: “I explained
    that last week I received my royalty statements for a TV series I had created
    and produced. It cost $1.2 million to make and had been on YouTube for a year.
    My royalties for 12 months were—are you sitting down?—.01 cent. Cent. Not even
    plural. No “S” required. .01 cent! On the other hand, I got my music statement
    for our 11th CD recording and for only three months we got the whopping sum of
    .01 cent. But it was only for three months. You don’t need an MBA to see how
    much more profitable music is!”

    And then his
    statement of the reality: “Hey, our chart numbers are off the hook. The shows?
    Man, standing room only. Likes are in the millions. Hit me on Insta—we’re
    killing it! But really, truth be known, we’re not killing it, we’re just

    Add that to the fact that over 200 musicians recently signed a letter demanding that the Québécois government take action so that they can receive fair compensation from music streaming services such as Spotify—most of them long-time, prominent members of the musicians' guild (Local 406)—and the desperation begins to become crystal clear. The US-based market posted profits of $5.4 billion during the first six months alone. Meanwhile, Spotify pays artists $0.004 per stream, on average. As for the non-featured musicians in Canada? Forget about it.

    And so, 2020 is
    shaping up to be a year when disgruntled, unfairly-treated musicians put on
    their union hats and begin a collective effort to restore to the music industry
    what has been ripped away by technology and corporations—the right to make a

    I would like to take this
    opportunity to wish all of our members in the US and Canada peace and
    fulfillment during this Holiday season, and the very best for the New Year.

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    Progress Made on Intellectual Property Rights in Europe

    On October 1 and 2, President Hair and I attended the 108th Executive Committee (EC) meeting of the International Federation of Musicians (FIM) in Zurich. President Hair attends as a member of the Presidium (one of the five vice-presidents), and I represented Canada as part of the Executive Committee. Of the 60-plus member countries of FIM, only a few are represented on the EC. Besides Canada, the others are Australia, Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Japan, Norway, Romania, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
    One of the most interesting aspects of the meeting was the progress made in terms of intellectual property rights, specifically in Europe. The following is contained within the European Directive:

    Article 14 – Principle of fair and proportionate remuneration

    1. Member States shall ensure that authors and performers receive fair and proportionate remuneration for the exploitation of their works and other subject matter, including for their online exploitation.
    2. Paragraph 1 shall not apply where an author or performer grants a non-exclusive usage right for the benefit of all users free of charge.
    3. Member States shall take into account the specificities of each sector in encouraging the proportionate remuneration for rights granted by authors and performers.
    4. Contracts shall specify the remuneration applicable to each mode of exploitation.

    So what does that mean? In a nutshell, performers will be able to negotiate a fee and get paid for the use of their music on streaming platforms.
    Essentially, an unwaivable right is created for performers to receive an equitable remuneration for all online uses of their recordings, collected from streaming platforms and administered by performers’ Collective Management Organizations (CMO), in addition to their exclusive right of making available on demand. The proposal also introduces a collective bargaining component, allowing unions to bargain the remuneration in order to achieve an equivalent result. So essentially, either national law or collective bargaining can be used to set the conditions.
    Further, the recommendations include for payments to be based on “actual value” or “potential value,” and allows for lump-sum payments under certain circumstances. The details and text are too extensive to include here, but suffice to say that the European Union (EU) has made significant progress in intellectual property rights.
    As I have pointed out in previous articles, it is the responsibility of each member state to adopt and enact legislation which comports with the directive. However, at the FIM meeting, several members reported on the progress made with the governments in their respective countries, which is an extremely positive sign.
    It’s important to understand that this is not applicable in Canada. Currently, performers are stuck with Re:Sound’s Tariff 8, which, unfortunately, still pays only 10% of similar tariffs in other countries, such as the United States or the EU. Perhaps in the future, if and when our recommendations during the Copyright Review are enacted, Canada’s Copyright Board will have a more streamlined methodology to respond to market conditions and trends (such as the convergence of media on the streaming platform), and be able to respond with a more appropriate tariff structure and remuneration levels. Canada’s musicians are counting on it.

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    Canadian Content Production Rules (CCPR) – Yesterday and Today

    Pour voir cet article en français, cliquez ici.

    will begin with the reason for this particular subject matter. On July 16th,
    negotiations with the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA) came to an
    abrupt halt when I stood up and walked out of the room (while uttering
    expletives and colourful metaphors). Before I explain why, you must first
    indulge me in a journey through some Canadian AFM history.

    are two contracts which have for many years been the bible for movies and
    television drama: the Theatrical Motion Picture Agreement and the Television
    Film Agreement. Both are excellent, and have the additional advantage of
    channelling payments into the Film Musicians’ Secondary Market Fund (FMSMF). Through
    the years, in order to monetize changes in distribution, the primary session
    fee of both agreements has been deliberately set on the low side. However, as
    the product moved to supplemental markets (think in-flight movies, pay TV,
    videocassette/DVD rental and sales, free TV, and sales to other countries),
    this would generate mandatory payments into the Fund on behalf of the musicians
    who participated in the score. In the end, those residuals resulted in
    significantly higher payouts than what could be bargained for a session.

    while those agreements were used in Canada, the results were quite different.
    First of all, the US is the big dog when it comes to the production of
    audiovisual content. With our population being one-tenth of the US, Canada’s
    footprint is proportionately smaller—and narrower. While it’s not unusual to
    hear of a US film budget in the hundreds of millions of dollars, the vast
    majority of Canadian films are well below $5 million. Most are what used to be
    called “movie of the week.” There are also documentaries, some episodic
    television drama and features that are entirely “Canadian Content.” To assist
    Canadian producers in finding capital to produce at all, there are federal and
    provincial tax credits for qualifying content, along with the ability to
    partner with foreign entities and produce “treaty” films. Some of this funding
    comes by way of a certificate issued by the Canadian Audio-Visual Certification
    Office (CAVCO) and is acquired by scoring high enough on a point system to merit

    am oversimplifying for the sake of space, but another factor is the absence of
    “big” Hollywood studios. There are very few based in Canada, with some
    exceptions, meaning they don’t own/distribute the production once it has been
    completed, but rather produce on behalf of another entity—primarily a Canadian
    broadcaster. In order to keep everything straight (for the tax credits and
    other necessary financing), a separate numbered company is opened to produce
    each film, or season of episodic drama. Once production is completed, the
    company is terminated.

    vastly different system (and market) created some problems for AFM members
    working under the MP/TV Film agreements, one being that each individual
    numbered company would have to become signatory to the agreements. Since the
    doors would close at the end of production, there were not many takers. If they
    did sign, once production ended, there was no entity left to pay any residuals
    into the FMSMF. Further, because of the type of productions these were, it was
    unlikely that a Canadian product would go further than television, and
    therefore, little opportunity for supplemental market residuals. Canadian
    session players would be recording for the same session fees as their LA
    counterparts, but would see residuals of $10 as opposed to thousands, or
    nothing at all.

    To remedy the inequity and recognize the vast difference in production, around 1995, Canadian composers—now known as the Screen Composers Guild of Canada (SCGC)—consulted with former vice president from Canada Ray Petch, and shortly thereafter his successor, David Jandrisch, to find a remedy. Hence was born the Canadian Content Production Rules (CCPR). While I am unclear as to just how many folks were involved, I know that David Jandrisch and Local 149 (Toronto, ON) member/composer Glenn Morley played significant roles in the structure and language, as well as former Administrative Assistant Len Lytwyn. I’m sure Glenn or Dave will correct any inaccuracy.

    CCPR was/is a short
    document, and lives as an addendum to the MP/TV Film Agreements for the
    production of CAVCO-certified or Canadian content in Canada. The premise is
    simple: The mandatory payments into the FMSMF are waived in favour of a higher
    session fee. In reality, it’s a pre-payment to the musicians to replace the
    residual. Because of this, the production may be distributed worldwide, to all
    markets in perpetuity. While often mistakenly referred to as a “buy-out,” it’s
    really only a pre-payment on distribution. The fees do not include other uses
    of the music, or repurposing in any way. To be clear, CCPR is not to be used by
    US companies who are currently a signatory to the other agreements. There is an
    application that must be completed, and certain criteria must be met.

    many years, CCPR flourished and producers were happy to sign on. However, in
    the 24 years that have passed, the industry has transformed radically, and that
    includes productions in Canada. Filing of CCPR paperwork (and the accompanying
    B7 report forms) has declined significantly in recent years, and there is more
    than one reason. With the surge of different broadcast models (i.e. streaming
    services), production budgets have dropped, which includes post-production (and
    scoring) budgets. The producers are offering less money to composers to deliver
    a completed product. Sometimes, the composers choose to use musicians in other
    countries (e.g. Prague, Bratislava) to keep costs down. Of course, none of that
    can be filed as AFM. And more often than not, the composer is compelled to hire
    no musicians at all and produce the music “in the box.”

    producers and distributors are still making profit as there is more content
    being produced than ever before, but it doesn’t seem to be available for music.
    So where is the money now? In a word—streaming.

    those of us in the Canadian Office, it became obvious that CCPR, in its present
    form, had outlived its usefulness. If producers were not offering a sufficient
    music budget, then musicians must be resourceful and find other means to
    maintain their scoring business. The agreement must be rewritten to allow for
    revenue to be extracted from what is now at least a $40 billion market
    worldwide—online streaming services. This is also the reason we entered into
    negotiations with the CMPA, to establish a new, forward-thinking agreement that
    recognized where the money is, and give musicians a fair share.

    In our first meeting
    with CMPA, we tabled a reworked version of the General Production Agreement, as
    used with broadcasters such as the CBC. After one pass back from them, it
    became clear that broadcasters and producers (when they are not the same
    entity), are different animals. The next four rounds of negotiations were
    extremely busy, as the AFM team worked toward a complete rewrite of an
    independent production agreement for use in Canada. In March of this year, we
    sent a complete pass to the CMPA, and while it no longer looked anything like
    our first proposals, the team was confident that we had constructed a fair and
    comprehensive agreement which both recognized the quirky differences of
    Canadian production and presented multiple alternatives for the fair
    compensation of AFM musicians.

    now come to July 16. CMPA had prepared a response to every article of our
    proposal. As they read through them, my heart fell. None of the major points
    were accepted; in fact, what they came back with was worse than the original

    the subject of streaming residuals—knowing most of their member producers would
    have difficulty in making payments once production was complete—we offered two
    alternatives. One was the standard percentage of distributor’s gross—the
    musicians make money if the producer makes money. The other was a term buy—a
    pre-payment for the number of years required, which could be made at any time.
    This would allow the producer to easily budget in advance, based on their
    licensing deal. CMPA deleted both proposals, unwilling to share any of the
    streaming revenues, despite the fact that other unions already have it.

    there were many additional aspects which clearly demonstrated that CMPA had no
    respect for musicians, they also eliminated composers from the agreement.
    Notwithstanding that we had presented a letter from the SCGC requesting their
    inclusion, CMPA took the position they didn’t belong in an agreement specific
    to scoring music (yes, you read that correctly). Further, they insisted upon
    eliminating provisions for musicians who are captured on camera (“sidelining”).
    All of these existed in the CCPR language. At that moment on July 16, the
    overwhelming feeling was that we were facing a team of greedy, anti-musician
    union-busters, giving rise to my angry reaction to walk away.

    Will we
    get back to the bargaining table? While I hope so, as it would be in the best
    interests of all concerned, there will have to be a different attitude
    emanating from the CMPA side of the table. What about CCPR? We have given
    notice to CMPA that CCPR terminates on December 31. It will be replaced by a
    document which recognizes the current realities in television and film production;
    a document which provides musicians with pension contributions, fair wages, and
    a doorway into the billions being made from streaming that is currently being
    horded by the large corporations and digital companies. Producers wishing to
    utilize AFM musicians may do so by utilizing this new agreement; or, they can
    use one of the other AFM agreements already negotiated and ratified—such the
    MP/TV Film, or the General Production Agreement (CBC). Whichever way it goes,
    we are further ahead than agreeing to the table scraps that were being offered
    by CMPA. Obviously, this story has more chapters to be written.

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    How Does a Union Successfully Engage with Freelancers?


    First of all, I am pleased to report that the renewal agreement negotiated by the Canadian Office of the American Federation of Musicians (CFM) with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has been ratified by the members who worked under the previous agreement over the last three years. This General Production Agreement represents a new benchmark in broadcast contracts for Canada and will be in place for the next four years. The language contains a clause requiring regular “joint committee” meetings between the CFM and CBC, which represents an opportunity to address issues not contemplated during negotiations, or aspects of the agreement which, for whatever reason, do not function as anticipated.


    Vice President Bruce Fife and I fulfilled the AFM obligation to attend the International Federation of Musicians (FIM) conference on freelance musicians. The event took place in Denmark, just prior to the AFM’s 101st Convention. We were participants on two of the eight panels, which were augmented by various supplementary presentations.

    The subject matter was extremely important—how does
    a union successfully engage that segment of musicians who do not work under
    collective agreements and are part of the so-called “gig economy”? It turns out
    that while there are many similarities experienced by FIM member unions around
    the world, there are some distinct—and disturbing—differences. Freelance, or
    gigging, musicians are rather unique as they historically do not engage their
    union but are prone to operate independently. In simpler terms, they do their
    own thing. Unfortunately for them, as well as for their union, this is most
    definitely not in their best interests.

    Freelancers have always represented a large part of
    our membership yet are the least likely to utilize any of the services and
    benefits available. Understandably, there are two consistent services that
    attract them: instrument and liability insurance, and immigration assistance.
    Inexplicably, they completely ignore the more than 40 other benefits. The most
    important are, of course, using contracts to cover their live engagements as
    well as taking advantage of agreements for their recordings. Both of these
    contain elements which musicians should consider indispensable in their
    careers: pension contributions and contract default assistance (claims).
    Further, AFM paper covering recordings results in proper scale wages, special
    payments, and New Use payments. Those important revenue streams can make a huge
    difference, especially in the quality of life after the music stops.

    How to reach out
    to those players and convince them to work more closely with their union is, of
    course, the conundrum, and the question which hung heavy over the FIM
    conference. The British Musicians’ Union (MU) has implemented one method. They
    have published a very polished members’ handbook that contains information
    about everything a musician is likely to encounter during their career. There
    are sections on agents, contracts, insurance, sync rights, placement of music
    in audiovisual mediums, recording, and travelling to other countries, to only
    scratch the surface. No stone is left unturned in this tremendously helpful
    book. And yet—the MU officers were also present at the conference, looking for
    answers to better engage freelance musicians.

    So, what is it going to take for that segment of the
    membership to acknowledge and take advantage of what they are entitled to? One
    of the answers may be intensive internal organizing. That would entail the
    engagement and training of our members until they are aware of and conversant
    with those services and benefits which directly affect them.

    Another element of the conference was the tragedy of
    what it means to be a craft unionist on other continents. For instance, the
    delegates from certain African countries are often absent from FIM events, as
    they are repeatedly arrested and jailed for their organizing efforts. Despite
    this abhorrent treatment, they remain undaunted. In addition, the delegate from
    Argentina delivered a heartbreaking report of a band who were unfortunate
    enough to be on stage when a fire broke out in the club (no, they didn’t have
    pyrotechnics). There were many injuries and deaths because of the panic and
    confusion. The band members were arrested and charged, apparently because they
    were considered “management.” Since they had access to microphones, the courts
    ruled they should have been directing traffic and issuing evacuation
    instructions, despite also being in peril. Failure to do so resulted in
    six-year prison terms, and the union in that country was powerless to mitigate
    the outcome. Suffice to say, these international events certainly impart a
    different perspective of how good/bad life is in Canada.

    Now, what can you do, as a member, to assist with the
    engagement of freelance musicians? First of all, talk to your local. Find out
    from them what is available and how to access. Make yourself knowledgeable and
    conversant with all things the union does. Second, talk about it with your
    fellow musicians. Make sure they are aware, and together make plans to take
    advantage of those services. And third, speak to musicians who are not yet
    members. The more musicians that join the AFM, the easier and more
    cost-effective it becomes to deliver the services. Moreover, the strength and
    effectiveness of the AFM increase exponentially, which in turn benefits you.
    After all, YOU ARE THE AFM.

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