Musicians win back $75K, thanks to Recording Dept.

Volume CX, No. 5May, 2010

The Recording Department recently settled a claim with Universal Motown for musicians’ services on several recording sessions with the band Tamarama. Local 802 collected close to $10,000 in wages and benefits for musicians who worked on these sessions.

Local 802 was also able to get a musician reimbursed when his guitar sustained damages on the set of a popular television show filmed in New York. While on set, the musicians’ guitar was knocked over, causing the neck to break. Local 802 was able to get his repair bill fully paid by the television network.

Recently, the Recording Department collected approximately $65,000 in wages, benefits and late penalties for musicians who worked on theme music for various ABC News programs. The department noticed discrepancies when one musician who had previously been receiving re-use payments called to inquire about why he was no longer receiving them. We quickly discovered that dozens of musicians who played on themes over the years were not receiving the proper compensation.

While it may have been possible that old themes were replaced with new ones, or that certain shows had gone off the air, the Recording Department discovered that in fact, the original themes were still being utilized, and no payments were coming to musicians for their use. We were successful in getting back pay for several cycles that had lapsed, some going back as far as 2006.

In a nutshell, the TV-Videotape Agreement dictates provisions for repayments of themes. If a theme that is recorded for a television program is re-used beyond a six month period, musicians should be repaid a percentage of the scale wage that was paid on the original session. Re-use cycles are generally six months long (or per season, if it is a theme for a sports program). By maintaining a database of themes that get filed through Local 802, we were able to effectively track these re-use payments, and noticed when we stopped receiving them.

If you have worked on television themes under the TV-Videotape Agreement – generally this refers to variety, sports or news shows on network television– you should be familiar with receiving re-use payments. If you believe that a theme you worked on is still being used on a television show, but you are not receiving payments for it, contact the Recording Department at (212) 245-4802, ext. 191 or 194.