Recording Spotlight

Volume CVIII, No. 5May, 2008


The path-breaking PBS music series “Soundstage” is once again being produced, and all programs will be done under union contracts.

In mid-April, Local 802 and the AFM signed HD Ready, Ltd., the series producer, to the national PBS contract.

On April 14, Tony-award winning star Idina Menzel taped her first television special at New York’s Rose Hall, backed up by a number of Local 802 members.

The following night Josh Groban, also at Rose Hall, taped a television special for PBS to be broadcast later this year, and again was backed up by Local 802 musicians working under an AFM agreement.

Upcoming broadcasts include artists like Tom Petty, Alison Krauss, Michael McDonald, Lucinda Williams, and many more. The production uses state-of-the-art, high-definition video equipment, and is digitally recorded and mixed in Dolby 5.1 surround sound.

Soundstage first aired in 1974, and ran until 1985 — long before MTV and VH-1 filled the airwaves. This pioneering PBS show electrified the nation.

Soundstage played host to such luminaries as Bob Dylan, Al Green, Janis Ian, Aretha Franklin, Bonnie Raitt, the Doobie Brothers, Arlo Guthrie, Jose Feliciano, Harry Chapin, Benny Goodman, Dionne Warwick, Itzhak Perlman, the Temptations and Kenny Loggins, among others.

When the series first ran, the hour-long concerts were filmed before small studio audiences and gave PBS viewers the sensation of experiencing the concert firsthand.

All future programs done for Soundstage, regardless of where in the country they are taped, will now be done under AFM agreement. 

– Jay Schaffner


As Allegro went to press, we learned that the efforts of Local 802 and other entertainment unions to lobby Albany to increase the state’s film tax credit were successful. This means that movie and TV studios will earn a tax credit for shooting in New York state.

The combined city and state tax credit will be increased to 35 percent from the current 10 percent.

“Any efforts to increase film work in the city can have a positive effect on working musicians,” said Recording Vice President Bill Dennison.

Local 802 member Dave Weiss, who sits on the union’s Recording Musicians Committee, agrees that this is great news.

“This is the end of a long road,” Weiss told Allegro. “We started lobbying Albany at least two and a half years ago. This tax credit may bring in more work for recording musicians. Congratulations to all of us.”

Weiss was the first Local 802 member who brought this issue to the attention of union leadership and has helped Local 802 push for it all along the way.

Gov. David Patterson was expected to sign the bill.