President’s Report

International Executive Board To Meet With New York Recording Musicians

Volume CV, No. 5May, 2005

David Lennon

On May 11th, an unprecedented meeting will take place between the AFM International Executive Board (IEB) and New York recording musicians, at Local 802 headquarters.

Local 802 extended this invitation to the IEB at its first quarter meeting in New Orleans in March.

The meeting has been called in response to recent measures undertaken by the IEB, as described in AFM Secretary-Treasurer Florence Nelson’s April 2005 International Musician column (I have reprinted those policy modifications below), and to ensure that no further action be taken by the IEB without the input of our members.


Some background is necessary in order to more fully understand the recent actions of the IEB and the matters under its consideration.

Since the 2003 convention of the American Federation of Musicians an unfortunate and widening division has developed between AFM leadership and the International Recording Musicians Association (RMA), the Player Conference representing recording musicians and granted official status in the AFM by the IEB. The sharpest differences have been between the AFM and the RMA’s Los Angeles chapter.

The differences have to do with several things. One of the two most important issues involve an Emergency Recommendation adopted at the 2003 convention that put in place a schedule of fees paid to the AFM on distributions from the Sound Recordings Special Payments Fund and the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund. The second issue involves the operation and oversight of the AFM’s Electronic Media Services Division (EMSD) and the negotiation of AFM electronic media contracts.

Over the course of the past eighteen months, this conflict has become increasingly volatile and, in one way or another, has intruded upon all Federation business. It has reached a boiling point, which the IEB can no longer ignore.


Last February, while attending the AFM’s Western Conference in Los Angeles, several IEB officers met with RMA representatives in an attempt to explore meaningful ways in which this important relationship might be repaired.

It is my understanding that all parties present deemed the meeting productive. Although the meeting was somewhat unconventional, the AFM President was not present, I believe that hostilities between the AFM and RMA have reached such epic proportions, that any attempts to improve the situation are to be commended. Unfortunately, these matters are fraught with rumor and political innuendo and it is important that 802 set the record straight in regard to our position and concerns.


While Local 802 applauds the efforts of the RMA and the IEB, we are deeply concerned that the IEB maintain its obligation to address the needs and interests of all recording musicians.

Although there has admittedly been a decline in recording work in our jurisdiction, overall 802 remains one of the Federation’s major recording centers. In 2003, Local 802 members earned over $27 million in total gross scale wages under AFM national recording contracts. In 2004, total gross scale wages earned were over $26 million.

When the AFM is considering any changes that would significantly alter the oversight, administration and negotiation of national recording agreements, the input of all our members must be taken into consideration.

We strongly believe that any resolution of these issues cannot be satisfactorily resolved without the input of musicians in major recording centers, including New York.


We are justifiably concerned about any discussions that involve changes in recording agreements, changes in eligibility requirements for ratification of these agreements, and any potential change in recording dues or assessments.

That is why we have made the IEB aware of our concerns and they have agreed to meet with New York recording musicians to ensure that our voices and concerns are part of their deliberations (a similar meeting took place between the IEB and Toronto recording musicians in April).

Again, the meeting will take place at Local 802 headquarters on Wednesday, May 11, 2005. The meeting will be restricted to 802 members from 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., so that we may first have an internal discussion (dinner will be served). The meeting with the IEB will commence at 6:00 p.m. and will be open to all interested parties. I have personally invited RMA leadership from Los Angeles to attend in order that we may together address our diverse interests in respect and solidarity. Your participation will be critical. We urge you to attend.


  • Player conference leadership will be notified whenever the IEB is to consider matters affecting their workplace, their contract, or their relationship to the Federation.
  • To foster better understanding between player conferences and the convention delegates, the leadership of each conference will be invited to give a verbal report at each AFM convention.
  • The long-standing, long-dormant Electronic Media Services Division (EMSD) Oversight Committee will be expanded to include, in addition to the three original representatives from the Recording Musicians Association and the one representative from among the three symphonic player conferences, the following: one representative each from AFM locals in Chicago, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Toronto, Nashville, and New York City, to be selected by each local; and two members of the IEB.
  • This newly-enlarged EMSD Oversight Committee will (a) make recommendations to the IEB for the restructure of EMSD to represent and serve more effectively both the musicians in the work place and the locals that depend on EMSD for service and advice; (b) recommend to the IEB a realistic annual operating budget for EMSD; (c) recommend whether or not to engage separate legal counsel for EMSD, who would function as chief negotiator for media agreements, litigator for breaches thereof, and legal advisor to the Division; and (d) recommend to the IEB eligibility thresholds that identify the population of members who can reasonably be considered to be “stakeholders” in the respective Federation media agreements.
  • Each player conference shall select its own representatives whenever a Federation committee is created that requires player conference participation. This would include negotiating committees, and any other type of advisory, policy, or study committees.
  • A nine-member committee will be created, composed of three members of the IEB; one representative each from our locals in Toronto, Nashville, and New York, selected by each local; and three representatives of the Recording Musicians Association, to determine ways to strengthen revenue collectible under electronic media agreements