There’s lots of news to share this month. First of all, we are in full swing in our negotiations with the Metropolitan Opera and will keep you posted. Separately, I’m pleased to announce that Local 802 has reached an agreement with the New York City Ballet for a successor CBA. On the legislative front, as Allegro goes to press, Congress is hopefully on the verge of passing the Music Modernization Act and its two related bills. The AFM has signed a joint statement in support of the legislation, along with more than 20 organizations representing artists, record labels, songwriters, composers and music publishers.
The Music Modernization Act would be the most significant update to music copyright law in over a generation and represents unprecedented compromise across all aspects of the music industry. The bill reforms Section 115 of the U.S. Copyright Act to create a single licensing entity that administers the mechanical reproduction rights for all digital uses of musical compositions – like those used in interactive streaming models offered by Apple, Spotify, Amazon, Pandora, Google and others. It also repeals Section 114(i) and, consistent with most federal litigation, utilizes random assignment of judges to decide ASCAP and BMI rate-setting cases – two provisions that will enable fairer outcomes for songwriters and composers.
The CLASSICS Act (Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, & Important Contributions to Society Act) would benefit artists and music creators who recorded music before 1972 by establishing royalty payments whenever their music is played on digital radio. SoundExchange would distribute royalties for pre-1972 recordings played by Internet, cable and satellite radio services just as it does for post-1972 recordings. Currently only sound recordings made after 1972 receive payments from digital radio services under federal law.
The AMP Act (Allocation for Music Producers Act) for the first time adds producers and engineers, who play an indispensable role in the creation of sound recordings, to U.S. copyright law. The bill codifies into law the producer’s right to collect digital royalties and provides a consistent, permanent process for studio professionals to receive royalties for their contributions to the creation of music.
The AFM and its allies also strongly support successfully resolving the lack of an AM/FM radio performance right for musicians.
As soon as the bills are passed and the president signs them, we’ll let you know! Thanks to all Local 802 members who have supported this once-in-a-generation legislation. It’s taken a lot of hard work to get this far.
As Allegro goes to press, the AFM Pension Fund has not yet publicly announced our Fund’s status for the fiscal year that just ended. For the latest updates, see www.afm-epf.org. I can give you one small piece of welcome news: the Fund recently altered its longstanding policy and is making its financial documents free and available digitally. We encourage musicians to examine this info closely as we discuss the future of our pension. I and Executive Board communications subcommittee members Bud Burridge, Sara Cutler, Martha Hyde and Wende Namkung stand ready to help “translate” the rather dense information. To access these free documents, log in at www.afm-epf.org and search for the link labeled Financial Information.
There are two important pension stories in this issue. You can read an in-depth story by Martha Hyde about the Turkus Award, which accounts for Broadway’s substantial contribution to our pension fund. This article is required reading for anyone who wants to know our history. Also, you can read Harvey Mars’ cautionary story about what happened when one company tried to withdraw from its pension fund and leave workers in the lurch. That story is very important for everyone to understand in our current pension climate.
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
- New York Philharmonic concertmaster Frank Huang, a member of Local 802 since 2015, has enjoyed a rich musical life. Local 802’s Bob Pawlo recently caught up with him to hear about his unique musical path. See our feature interview with Concertmaster Huang.
- June is Pride Month, chosen to remember the Stonewall Riots and the beginning of the modern Gay Rights Movement. Unions have fought hard to make sure that employers cannot discriminate against their employees, including helping pass laws that protect LGBTQ working people. For more than 20 years, Pride at Work has been pushing the organized labor movement forward on LGBTQ issues.
- An exciting degree of energy among union leadership, organizers and member activists was on full display at the Labor Notes conference in Chicago earlier this spring. A team from Local 802 and representatives from the AFM took part in the three-day event along with an estimated 3,000 union sisters and brothers from around the nation and from 24 countries. Please read an amazing story by Andy Schwartz, Lily Paulina and Sara Koshar.
- The voices of immigrant artists were heard loud and clear at a recent panel convened by the Immigrant Arts Coalition and the New York Times Latino Network. “American Dreamers: The Immigrant Artists’ Voice in the USA” covered the panelists’ immigration stories and how art and music have influenced their own work and the immigrant narrative in the United States. See Marlena Fitzpatrick Garcia’s story.
- Lastly, in this issue, we mourn the deaths of Richard Dallessio, Bob Dorough, Brooks Kerr and former Local 802 staff member Howard Williams. See our obituaries.Rest in peace.
LOCAL 802 FINANCIAL UPDATE
The Local 802 financial statements for Jan. 1, 2017 to Dec. 31, 2017 are presented in the printed issue as well as analyses by Financial Vice President Tom Olcott and Controller Cathy Camiolo. (Separately, the annual report summary for the health fund also appears in this issue.) You can see that Local 802’s finances remain stable. The union had a net loss of $163,000 in 2017, but we have cash reserves of just over $2 million (plus investments worth almost $7 million). The loss in 2017 can be explained partly due to the fact that the building staff had to work some overtime shifts to fix our aging building, which we are hopeful will not occur again in 2018. Legal fees also increased as a result of some one-time costs that occurred in 2017. As usual, members who have any questions about the union’s finances can contact me directly, or Tom or Cathy. We take the stewardship of our members’ money very seriously and we appreciate your trust.
NEW YORK IS MUSIC
As the weather gets warmer and summer is just around the corner, it’s great to celebrate New York Is Music month in June, which is the official New York City celebration of our diverse music ecosystem, across all five boroughs. The organizers put it best: “Music is central to the city’s economy, social fabric, and cultural identity. New York is Music celebrates this with free programming and resources for musicians, industry professionals, students and fans.” Please check out www.nymusicmonth.nyc for the full calendar. During New York Is Music month, musicians can rehearse for free at locations in Williamsburg, Park Slope and Long Island City. For more, see www.spaceworksnyc.org/nymm. Another event to watch for is a free, one-day conference called “Innovation at the Intersection of Music + Nightlife,” which will take place on June 8 at NYU. The event is aimed to raise awareness and promote a dialogue about the thriving music scene in all five boroughs. It will feature a program of speed talks, interviews, and panels featuring leading voices from New York’s current music scene. Finally, catch free performances from the New York Philharmonic at “Concerts in the Parks” (www.nyphil.org/parks) and from hit Broadway musicals at “Broadway in the Boros” (www.nyc.gov/theatre).
PRIMARY ELECTION IN NY
Please don’t forget to vote in the New York primary election on June 26 (for federal races). As the date approaches, Local 802 will post its full slate of endorsements at www.local802afm.org/political-action-department and also on our social media. For more information on Local 802’s endorsement process, contact the Political Action Department at (212) 245-4802, ext. 176.
CONGRATS TO ALLEGRO
Let me end by congratulating Allegro (and all the staff and members who contribute to it) for winning first place in the annual NYC labor journalism conference administered by the Metropolitan Labor Communications Council. We’re proud that we were recognized as number one in general excellence among all labor publications in NYC in our circulation class. Allegro is a group effort and I thank everyone who makes it an award-winning magazine.