When trumpeter Martin Berinbaum and his wife were on vacation together, watching the 2016 movie “Manchester by the Sea,” one piece of the soundtrack immediately caught their attention. During the funeral scene for the main character’s brother, Handel’s Messiah plays in the background – and Berinbaum recognized it as the exact version from a session he himself had played on three decades ago. They stuck around for the credits and confirmed that the music had indeed been taken from a 1982 recording by the ensemble Musica Sacra, recorded on the RCA Red Seal label. Berinbaum called the contractor from over 30 years ago, Local 802 member Barbara Wilson.
Wilson remembered the job, and she immediately called the union to see if there were any payments due to musicians.
Local 802 Electronic Media rep Bob Pawlo researched the situation and discovered that money couldn’t be collected without the original report forms for the session. After a lot of digging, Wilson found copies of the forms in a box in her home that hadn’t been opened in decades. With this evidence in hand, Pawlo made a call to Peter Marroquin of the AFM Electronic Media Services Division, the specialist for new use payments. After 18 months of back and forth, Pawlo was recently able to recover a total of over $13,000 for the 45 musicians plus over $1,400 in pension.
“This is a story with a great lesson and a happy ending,” said Local 802 Recording Vice President Andy Schwartz. “When musicians are alert and make a call to the union, we can come through and get you paid what you deserve.”
Musicians were covered under an AFM contract for the original session, which includes a provision for “new use” if the music is used in another format, as in this case when it was used in the film soundtrack.
Local 802 recommends that whenever you’re called for a recording session of any kind, you report it confidentially to the union to make sure you’re being paid what you deserve. Call 24 hours a day to the Electronic Media department at (212) 245-4802, ext. 191 (Bob Pawlo), 130 (Marisa Friedman) or ext. 110 (Andy Schwartz).
“The more information you can give us, the better chance we have to ensure that proper wages and benefits are paid,” said Pawlo.