Creative artists are rising up — and musicians are next! In mid-September, Local 802 graciously hosted a very successful proposals meeting for our upcoming AFM negotiations for film, streaming and television contracts. Our contract campaign, Fair Share for Musicians, is committed to listening to everyone who has worked under these contracts as we prepare to meet the studios across the table in November.
Sidney Hopson, a member of the Fair Share for Musicians steering committee, was able to join me in presenting the broad strokes of proposal topics we have generated, and led a Q&A session that gave us the opportunity to hear the thoughts and hopes of the many participants. We were fortunate to be joined by AFM President Tino Gagliardi and AFM Electronic Media Services Division Administrator John Painting. We are also deeply appreciative of the support and presence of Local 802 President Sara Cutler along with a full complement of officers and staff from Local 802. Roger Blanc, president of RMA-NY joined us, as well as other rank and file members both in the Club Room and over Zoom.
We are focused first and foremost on the current entertainment industry strikes, and building our campaign for fair streaming compensation for musicians when we get to the bargaining table. But what does it mean for musicians who never do scoring work, or if it makes up a small part of what they do for a living?
First, the overall financial health of our union is at stake. The streaming residuals that musicians are seeking would be paid through our locals, creating the kind of revenue stream that supports our wealthier sibling unions.
Just as critically, our ability to build ourselves into a union capable of achieving a wide variety of goals in every possible workplace is also at stake. Our long-term goals of economic and social justice on behalf of musicians, reversing the income inequality gap that has pushed so few up and so many down, all depend on our ability to grow our AFM power.
Our strong support of writers, actors, session singers and others in our industry is a crucial way of building relationships. We have a growing number of musicians joining us on the picket lines, building friendships and contributing to the strength of our presence.
As Allegro goes to press, the Writers Guild has won a tentative agreement tothat could settle their strike against the studios. We supported the writers on the street and in the negotiating room since the first day of their campaign, and our relationship with both writers and leaders of WGA has grown apace. The solidarity we are building with SAG-AFTRA, Teamsters 399, I.A.T.S.E. and other unions is an important investment in our future success. That solidarity is based first and foremost on our participation.
That participation has also given us a window into the organizing and power-building processes of these strong and unified labor organizations. We’re learning, and putting lessons into practice. Following their examples, we are building networks of musician-leaders and supporters. If you’re interested in learning more or participating, please email our campaign at email@example.com
This is a long game. Our goal is to involve every one of us. Separately and individually we might be able to build careers, but only together — all together — can we build contracts and policies that make those careers sustainable.
Marc Sazer is vice president of AFM Local 47 (Los Angeles) and president of Recording Musicians Association
WHAT WE ARE FIGHTING FOR: For more than a decade, musicians working on made-for-streaming movies and TV shows have been exploited by the multi-billion dollar media conglomerates that make up the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers Association. Recording musicians performing on soundtracks are making 75 percent less on content premiering on streaming platforms. These musicians, like singers and actors, create unique performances that are captured in real time — yet, they are not being compensated accordingly for streaming media. This is because the entertainment industry has fundamentally shifted. Content now premieres primarily on streaming platforms rather than in movie theatres and on network television. This shift has resulted in considerably less residual income for musicians, threatening our livelihoods. In essence, the talent bringing scores to life is being commoditized without a fair share of the considerable profits made by companies such as Disney, Paramount, Universal, and Warner Bros. This practice is neither fair nor sustainable. Musicians, essential to the streaming economy, demand a fair contract which includes streaming residuals — from www.fairshareformusicians.org