Our Bottom Line: ‘Cautiously Hopeful’

Financial Vice-President's Report

Volume CX, No. 11November, 2010

Jay Blumenthal

I’m pleased to report that Local 802 did see some improvement in our income for the first half of 2010.

The improvement – though slight – is welcome. The income which dropped precipitously in the last half of 2009 has essentially leveled off.

To be clear, the free fall has abated but the upturn is spotty and minimal at best. As you will see, we have been diligent about keeping expenses under control.

While the 2010 actuals were positive compared to budget, the healthier appearance is a bit misleading. This is because many budgeted large expenditures are scheduled for the second half of 2010.

Once this money is actually spent, it will likely erase what appears for now to be an improving situation.


In the past, the membership expressed its desire to have a visible presence in the media making our case for live music.

This campaign has begun with the introduction of radio spots on 1010 WINS. The response from the membership has been positive and we will be adding a variety of spots to keep our message fresh and compelling.

This, however, is just the beginning. The Public Relations Committee is hard at work developing an expanded campaign.

In this regard there is great excitement because we recently entered into an agreement with a public relations firm that I believe will prove to be an excellent fit for Local 802.

The firm has previous experience in the entertainment industry and has cultivated important relationships in governmental affairs and community relations.

A successful campaign will require the depth of knowledge and experience this firm brings to the table.

Of course the cost to air commercial ads is expensive. As we move forward, we will attempt to get the best bang for our buck.

We are fortunate in that some firms truly respect and appreciate musicians. They want to be associated with Local 802 as we fight for our cause.

Consequently, these firms have been willing to accept retainers far below what they would normally charge their for profit clients. Retaining well-established firms allows us to draw upon specialists within the firm that have expertise in the particular areas for which we have needs.

So far, we are very pleased with the legal representation we have retained and we are looking forward to beginning our new relationship with the public relations firm we have engaged.


The major freelance classical orchestra negotiations have been ongoing since last April. The negotiating environment has been difficult and in some cases contentious.

Orchestra managements are under the stain of reduced donations and fewer grants as a result of the long-lasting economic recession. In some cases, orchestra managements and the union have signed extension agreements that keep their current collective bargaining agreement in place while good faith negotiations continue.


The Music Performance Fund has been experiencing declining revenues for many years. This has been caused by a shift in the way the public purchases recorded music.

For years the public purchased vinyl records and then CD’s. Both of these formats generated payments to the fund.

Digital downloads, however, do not generate payments to the fund and this is the way music is purchased today.

As revenue to the fund has declined, the fund has had little choice but to reduce or eliminate support for free live music performances, downsize their staff and change their model.

While all the details have not been finalized, we can expect significant changes to the way the fund will operate in the future.

The AFM has indicated that a proposal will be introduced at the Sound Recording Labor Agreement negotiations to address the Music Performance Fund’s declining revenue stream.

Let‘s hope the AFM is successful, as the Music Performance Fund has a long history of supporting free quality concerts for the public as well as important educational programs in our schools.


The Local 802 Emergency Relief Fund has experienced declining revenues as well. The combination of reduced giving and increasing need has put a significant strain on the ERF.

The officers will soon be making an appeal to the members for donations to the ERF. Musicians have turned to the fund for help when support is needed to maintain basic necessities such as electricity or overdue rent.

When the officers’ appeal arrives in the mail, please consider giving generously.