Recording Musicians Take Note

The new Single Song Overdub Scale Agreement is here

Volume 117, No. 7July, 2017

Local 802 and the AFM recognize that the digital domain has created new opportunities for musicians to work together online, allowing creative collaborations to happen worldwide. Distance is no longer an obstacle when a producer wants talented players to contribute to a project. The question our union faced was how to enable its members, recording remotely in personal or project studios, to contribute their tracks and still be covered individually under an AFM electronic media agreement, receiving wages and benefits along with protections for their work should a recording take off. The way these recording jobs have worked until now was as a cash business. Once your track went to the employer that was the end of your participation and so you were denied any rewards that might be generated by a project’s success. The musicians of AFM Local 257 (Nashville), under the leadership of its President Dave Pomeroy, created a model to address this and it was brought to the AFM and its IEB Electronic Media Oversight Committee to review and make any needed modifications. The new Single Song Overdub Scale Agreement is now ready for Local 802 musicians to examine and decide if this provides a solution. We believe it represents a huge leap forward to address the needs of some of our recording musicians. Below is a summary of the agreement and guidelines for its use. Feel free to contact the Local 802 Electronic Media Services Department at (212) 245-4802 to receive a copy of the contract along with examples of wages and benefits tiered to the amount you negotiate for your services.

 – Andy Schwartz, recording vice president

Local 802 Guidelines for Using the AFM Single Song Overdub Scale Agreement

This agreement is designed to capture the growing market of single song internet overdubs, typically performed by one or more musicians, in a home studio, for a single employer, most often for an independent artist or label. This is designed for independent projects as a stand-alone scale and can only be combined with limited pressing projects. It cannot be used for an AFM signatory record label or if the original track has been recorded under any other AFM or Local 802 agreement (low budget, commercial announcement, demonstration recording, etc.)

Unlike other AFM agreements, the unit of commerce in this business model is the song, not the hour. The agreement is designed to allow an individual musician to charge by the song in a straightforward fashion without any deception or misconception about the rate. The wages are determined by mutual agreement between the musician and employer and the total “all-in” payment that would be quoted to a specific employer includes all fringe benefits.

Music preparation fees (for arranging, orchestration, copying) are not included in this agreement. If you are providing such services, your total fee can reflect this additional work. If you need more information, contact the Local 802 Electronic Media Services Department at (212) 245-4802.

Unless you are incorporated, the purchaser should assume the employer responsibility for statutory benefits (worker’s compensation insurance, social security and unemployment insurance taxes.) Any payroll company will handle this, as well as the union benefit checks. Legit 802, Inc. is available here and is already familiar with this agreement. The purchaser would still be writing only one check.

A scale worksheet is included with this agreement, listing the scale wages, pension, health and welfare, and payroll fees for payment amounts of $100, $150, etc. up to $500. Wages higher than $500/song can easily be figured by addition or multiplication of smaller amounts.

Up to 12 songs for one project in a six-month period are permissible under one agreement. Multiple musicians can work under one agreement if all musicians appear on all songs and everyone works at the same rate. The one exception is that the first musician to work under a signed SSOS agreement may charge a higher rate as the designated session leader.

The typical procedure for filing a Single Song Overdub Scale contract is as follows:

1. Negotiate the rate: The employer contacts the musician and sends a recording of the song. The musician responds with an offer of the per-song rate or rates, with a minimum of $100 per song, at the discretion of the musician.

2. Execute the agreement: When the price is agreed, the musician sends the employer the Single Song Agreement to fill out, sign, and return. The musician then forwards the agreement to their AFM local for countersignature by the local and AFM national offices.

3. Approval/payment: When overdubs are completed, the musician sends an overall mix with the new parts added to the employer for approval. Upon approval, the agreed-upon “all-in” payment, which includes scale wages, pension, health, and a payroll or transaction fee is sent to payroll.

4. Additional songs: A maximum of 12 songs are permitted in a six-month period for one project under one agreement. If the musician and employer wish to include additional songs after the original agreement has been executed and sent to the local, the musician will file a separate page titled Addendum to Single Song/Single Player Overdub Agreement – Project Title __________ [insert name of Project Title from top of Agreement] identifying the additional song(s) and compensation, and send this page to the local.

5. Paperwork deadlines: Following the completion of each overdub session, the musician will deliver the following to the local:

  • Within 72 hours of the completion of each overdub session: a completed “Single Song/Single Player Overdub” information input form (which is available as a downloadable PDF at or from the local).
  • Within 7 days of the completion of each overdub session: a completed Single Song/Single Player Overdub Report Form (which is also available from or from the local)
  • Within 15 days of the completion of each overdub session: payment must be completed by the payroll company, including wages to the musician and benefit checks to the AFM-EPF and Local 802 Musicians Heath Fund.

6. Contracts/benefit contributions: The local will create and deliver the B-17 report form contract and musician’s pension contribution to the AFM-EPF and the health and welfare contribution to the Local 802 Musicians Health Fund no later than 30 days following the completion of each overdub session.

7. Upgrade threshold/payment amounts: If a song reaches an aggregate manufacturing or sales threshold of 10,000 units, including digital downloads, the musician will be additionally compensated for a Special Session rate. This total payment will apply for one or two songs, and no additional health and welfare contribution is required. For more than two songs, or an entire album that has reached the upgrade threshold, the upgrade payment will be one Master Session, for each 15 minutes of music. Employer will sign the AFM Sound Recording Labor Agreement and make the appropriate Sound Recording Special Payments Fund contributions, if required. The current sales threshold for triggering a Special Payments Fund contribution is 34,000 copies.

8. Leader designation: For any additional payments triggered by a single song or an entire project exceeding 10,000 digital and analog pressings as described above, the musician who is listed first on a contract with multiple players and/or whose agreement with the employer is executed at the earliest date will be designated session leader. All other players will receive single scale. All song titles recorded under this agreement must be provided. If the original (pre-overdub) track is used in the final version of the recording, that person may be added to the contract at the time of the upgrade.

9. Assumption agreement: If the recording is picked up for distribution, licensed or sold to a record label, the conditions of #7 and #8 above will apply and an AFM Assumption Agreement must be signed.