Learn While You Earn

Recording Seminar a Success

Volume CVI, No. 12December, 2006

The first seminar sponsored by the 802 Recording Musicians Committee was held at the union on Oct. 26. Musicians from all over the metropolitan area learned about the terms of the recording contract and discussed working in the recording business. It was immediately apparent to 802 staff that we were on to something that really fills a need for musicians doing this work.

Among the musicians attending, only one in five had ever been called to a session by a contractor, a reflection on how the business operates now. Today, session players are frequently playing solo and in dispersed locations. Few sessions are being called by contractors.

For decades the union relied on a regular leader and contractor system to enforce the Sound Recording Labor Agreement. That contract enforcement system is narrowing. Technology allows the mixing process to incorporate ever smaller pieces into a whole. This means that every musician who records solo also needs to know what’s in the recording contracts and how to file the work in order to get paid.

With committee and AFM input, the Recording Department staff developed an informational piece on the contract process entitled “How To File A Recording Contract.” Using graphics and detailed instructions originally written by the AFM, the presentation is a convenient way to learn about the contract reporting process.

Stopping the presentation frequently for discussion, 802’s recording staff listened to everyone — and got an earful. Well-established session players from the Recording Musicians Committee know how musicians get ripped off in this industry. The back and forth between experienced session players and musicians with less experience was valuable learning for everyone.

The musicians in attendance were asked, “Do you know a musician who should know what you learned here today?” Every musician in the room replied “Yes.” That response validated the idea of doing this seminar on a regular basis.

To that end, the next seminar will take place on Thursday, Jan. 11 at 11 a.m. in the Club Room.

Seminar materials include the entire presentation on CD, a copy of the contract, the session contract forms, the local agreements — such as the demo session form — and a summary of tips for keeping it union. All musicians doing recording work, and union staff, are welcome.