Jingle Musicians Win 12% Pension

Volume CV, No. 1January, 2005

Jay Schaffner

Printed on page 17 are the new jingle rates (also online in the Wage & Contract section of this site). These are rates that apply to musicians playing on TV and radio commercials, like the McDonald’s theme, “I’m Lovin’ It,” or thousands of other similar examples.

Who are we bargaining with? We bargain with actual employer associations, not individual employers. One is the Association of National Advertisers; the other is the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

On the union side, the AFM is the signatory, not Local 802. (In other words, the jingle rates are national contracts just like almost all recording scales.)

What did we achieve? This is the first union agreement where recording musicians will earn 12 percent pension. That means that jingle musicians are earning some of the best pension rates that 802 has won. It’s a major step forward.

We were also able to achieve increases in basic session scale wages and in health benefits for sessions. Since original session wages were increased, re-uses and dubs from those sessions will now also earn higher re-use rates.

Still, some challenges remain.

The biggest controversy in the jingle field today has to do with the concept of demos.

For instance, let’s say a composer wants to compose the new jingle for Coke.

But Coke won’t sign a contract with the composer right away. Instead, Coke requires that the composer create a demo. Even though there are supposed to be union demo rates, in practice these demos are cash jobs, not union jobs.

And sometimes, the composer is so eager to sell the jingle that getting paid doesn’t even figure into the equation.

So the problem for musicians is that sometimes a musician will play on a demo and not get paid for months, if at all.

This is further complicated because most jingle sessions take place with individual musicians coming in and laying down one track at a time. There aren’t group sessions, so it’s harder for musicians to take a stand together.

So in this round of negotiations, the union pushed for reform in the practice of demos.

In the final agreement, the AFM did not win new demo rates. How to deal with demos was left to be handled by the AFM’s International Executive Board.

For any other questions or concerns, contact the Local 802 Recording Department.