Fighting for New Gigs

Tax incentives could give a push to hire more musicians

Volume CVIII, No. 11November, 2008

Paul Molloy

Step by step, we can improve opportunities for musicians. On Sept. 16, New York City Councilmember David Yassky announced two pieces of legislation designed to make it far more attractive for production and post-production companies to bring their projects to New York City.

His production tax credit would triple the city’s rebate to 15 percent from 5 percent. That plus the state’s 30 percent tax credit would bring the total tax benefit package to 45 percent for eligible projects.

On the post-production side, Yassky’s bill offers a 10 percent credit. (I incorrectly wrote in September’s issue that it was five percent — my apologies.) And if the Golden/Englebright post-production tax credit bill passes at the state level, eligible post-production projects would get a 20 percent rebate in New York City. 

Bottom line: more tax breaks for production and post-production means more possibilities for musicians.

The benefits of these types of bills extend beyond the entertainment industry. They attract new business, create hundreds of jobs, and have a multiplier effect that helps other local industries. 


In early October, I attended a seminar sponsored by the Future of Music Coalition (see My message to the musicians I meet is straightforward: Ensure the thousands of hours spent honing your craft are protected and rewarded in the form of dignified wages, insurance, pension and safe working conditions.

While the notion of being a starving artist may seem romantic to some, just ask the musicians who’ve done thousands of record dates, playing on huge hits that continue to receive heavy airplay, but get no royalty payments.

What’s more insulting is that every other developed nation pays its musicians for their work that receives airplay.

In fact, there are royalty payments sitting in foreign bank accounts for American studio musicians. But since there is no legal mechanism in place to receive them in the U.S., untold numbers of musicians — many of whom are AFM members — won’t see a nickel.

As regular Allegro readers know, there is pending legislation to remedy this at the Federal level. It is known as the Performance Rights Act (H.R. 4789/S. 2500) and it requires broadcasters to pay royalties to musicians whose work is played over A.M./F.M. airwaves.

By urging our members of Congress to cosponsor this bill and by voting for congressional candidates that pledge to do the same, we restore some respect and dignity for the years of hard work and significant musical contributions to the public made by musicians.

These bills won’t pass themselves. Our leaders at all levels of government will need all the support we can give them. Stay tuned for information on how Local 802 will be helping in these efforts. As usual, contact me at or (212) 245-4802, ext. 176.