Getting Paid Twice

Volume 111, No. 7/8July, 2011

Steve Danenberg

Do you know about “new use” payments? It’s another benefit to playing union gigs…

Earlier this year, Local 802 President Tino Gagliardi asked me to attend the AFM new use meetings in Studio City, Calif., at the headquarters of the AFM’s Film Musicians Secondary Market Fund. I was honored by the request and excited about attending. I was not disappointed.

For those that are not familiar with the term “new use,” here’s what it means. When music recorded in one medium is later used in a different medium, a “new use” is created, and a new payment is due to musicians.

For example, if a movie soundtrack ends up being used on a TV commercial, musicians who played on the original movie soundtrack are due new payments. (This assumes that both the original project and the new project were both recorded under AFM recording contracts, which is required to trigger new use payments.)

There are some exceptions and fine print. For example, music originally recorded for videogames is not currently eligible for new use payments.

The meetings I attended, which were co-sponsored by the RMA and the various locals in attendance, were conducted by Marc Sazer, president of the RMA. The goal was to discuss how we understand, create strategies for, and distribute compensation for new uses in AFM-covered music.

In attendance was AFM president Ray Hair and also Dennis Dreith, who is the director of the Film Musicians Secondary Market Fund. Representatives were there from the RMA as well as from the larger locals around the country, including Local 257 (Nashville) and Local 47 (Los Angeles).

The unity of all the participants was evident and as we discussed our common goals, challenges and frustrations, I was very pleased to be face to face with many colleagues who up until this point had simply been names and phone numbers.

Everyone was impressed by the level of professionalism and dedication shown by the Federation’s staff, led by Dick Gabriel on the West Coast and Pat Varriale from New York. We met key behind-the-scenes people who view TV shows for AFM recordings, review credits on movies via Netflix, and track usage on commercials and movie trailers that use AFM-covered music . They also create invoices, and collect the monies owed for new use and work dues from members.

We learned about the AFM’s many resources for tracking both the product and the performers. See article at left.

Our union needs the support of our members in tracking these often elusive payments. We rely on every source of information available – and that includes all of you.

Whenever you play on any recording project, please report it to the union confidentially. And if you see your product being used somewhere else, definitely let us know. Call (212) 245-4802 and ask for the recording department.