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Home » Recent News » Wrapping Up a Tumultuous Fiscal Year; Diving Headlong into the Next

Wrapping Up a Tumultuous Fiscal Year; Diving Headlong into the Next

  -  Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund (FMSMF) Executive Director

As International Musician went to press, the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund was finalizing the numbers for the fiscal year that began April 1, 2020 and ended March 31, 2021. This 2021 fiscal year is the year upon which the July 1, 2021 regular distribution of secondary market residuals will be determined. 

What a year those 12 months turned out to be. While most of the staff moved to remote operations, we concurrently executed an emergency acceleration of the regular distribution date from July 1, 2020 to May 22, 2020. At the same time, we were fielding a spike in inquiries from musicians desperately trying to navigate the arcane rules of the Coronavirus relief unemployment legislation. Plus, we had already begun the Fund office’s massive digital transformation project. This situation can be best described in two words: “perfect storm.” 

Fortunately, the regular distribution, the omissions distribution, and reissues of unclaimed residuals were delivered to more than 17,000 musicians and musicians’ beneficiaries during 2020, notwithstanding the stormy environment in which the Fund staff was forced to operate. 

The Fund is on track to issue residuals for the fiscal year 2021 on the normal date of July 1, 2021. 

One potential bright spot has emerged as the 2021 fiscal year closed and is now being reconciled. Although final reconciliations and verifications are incomplete as of this writing, it appears that residuals collected during fiscal year 2021 will break another record by reaching, if not exceeding, $120 million. This would compare to collections of $115.7 million in fiscal year 2019 and $114.7 million in fiscal year 2020. 

At this time, it is unknown whether this significant increase in residuals generated under AFM agreements during fiscal year 2021 is a one-time anomaly or the continuation of a trend. The Fund will continue to monitor the pace of collections during fiscal year 2022 (which began April 1, 2021) and keep a close eye on the outcome of the AFM-AMPTP negotiations that will be held later this year. 

Recent Trends 

The December 2017 issue of International Musician contained a graph that depicted the growth of secondary market residuals through fiscal year 2017. Secondary market revenues and the resulting residuals for an individual title can vary from relatively modest to significant, depending on that specific title’s success and marketability. However, in recent years, secondary market residuals, taken together, have grown as residuals from new media exhibition of film and television programs represents an increasingly significant share of the totals. 

The graph below, which has been updated through fiscal year 2020, depicts the growth in secondary market residuals since fiscal year 2011. 

Growth in Secondary Market Residuals Since Fiscal Year 2011

Expanding Outreach 

Some of the Fund’s education and outreach activities, including annual panels sponsored by the Fund at the American Film Market and South by Southwest, had to be postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic. However, the Fund will continue to adapt, even after life returns to “normal.” 

Because Zoom meetings have become almost universal in the era of COVID, the Fund is taking advantage of this technology to present “FMSMF 101” webinars. These seminars were usually held at in-person events; for example, when AFM locals or conferences invited the Fund to make a presentation at their membership meetings. As such, they were not as accessible to film and television musicians living and working outside of Los Angeles or whose work schedules conflicted with attending AFM events. The availability of this popular videoconferencing technology makes it possible for the Fund to present these seminars to a wider audience of musicians across the US, as well as in Canada. 

The first two of these virtual seminars were held April 21 and 28, 2021. Although these past sessions may be posted on the Fund’s YouTube channel at a later date, the Fund plans to schedule additional webinars so musicians can participate in real time, ask questions, and learn how the Fund works for them. 

A Friendly Reminder! 

Please keep your address and contact information up to date with the Fund, and be sure to complete a beneficiary designation form to confirm your beneficiary. You can update your contact information and learn more about designating beneficiaries at

We strongly urge all Fund participant musicians to enroll in the Fund’s Go- 
Paperless program. Given recent pressures on the US Postal Service, some of which may have lasting effects for years to come, it is in the best interest of all participants to ensure their residuals are received through a safe, instant, and secure direct deposit. For more information on how to enroll in Go-Paperless, please visit

On behalf of the fmsmf staff, best wishes to AFM members for continued health, safety, and a return to better days. 

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