Looking After Your Future

Focus On Music Prep

Volume CVII, No. 7/8July, 2007

Steve Danenberg

Many times during the course of daily business, the arranger, orchestrator or music copyist is confronted with preparing several jobs, either simultaneously or overlapping each other.

Often there is not enough time to execute a music prep contract.

Although different media such as television, sound recordings, film and Broadway already have collective bargaining agreements, not all individual companies are signatory to these agreements.

The only way in which the union can appropriately collect pension and health benefits contributions is by having an executed agreement.

(Music prepared for live performance uses the Local 802 General Price List, which will be discussed more thoroughly in a future article.)

Another benefit of working under an agreement is that there may be “secondary markets” attached to the original service — which means more money.

For those that are not familiar with this term, secondary markets refer to additional or new uses. This means more income for you, if the work was done under the AFM’s film or sound agreements.

For example, music prepared for live performances may end up being used on a television show or recording. This earns you a new use payment. Music prep is entitled to one payment per media for the same piece of music performed.

Once a year, members who have worked on films or recordings receive a check that is a percentage based on their total of scale wages for that media.

It can amount to large sums of money, particularly if secondary markets are involved.


As for live performances, it is best to have an executed music prep contract when starting a project, which should be filed as soon as possible with my department.

If time does not permit having a contract at the beginning of the project, make sure when you submit one that it predates the date on the invoice, as the pension fund gets sticky about the sequence of dates.

The pension fund requires a music prep contract for each project or a participation agreement from a company that is incorporated, which can be used as a blanket agreement for any work in the General Price List.

You can find the music prep contract in the “Wage & Contract Info” section of this site.

Or call my office and I will get one to you. We will also provide you with a participation agreement and union invoices.

Steve Danenberg is the union’s administrator of music prep. He can be reached at (212) 245-4802, ext. 119 or