It is with a heavy heart that I report the passing of Erwin Price on April 10 at the age of 92. Erwin had been a member of the union since 1946. He was Local 802’s recording vice president from 1995 to 2003 and also served on the Executive Board, the Trial Board, and ultimately the AFM’s International Executive Board. Erwin was a top trombonist and worked in every area of the industry. He was also active in many negotiating committees for both Local 802 and AFM contracts, including the Broadway Theatre Committee, where he helped win the 50 percent substitution rule from the League. Erwin was the quintessential gentleman and one of the most even-keeled individuals I have ever known. My first real interaction with Erwin was in 2003 during the Broadway negotiations. With theatre minimums on the line and a strike pending, Erwin embodied the strength and resolve of our union, offering the support and advice that helped the negotiating committee get through those difficult talks. As an officer, he had the kind of love affair with our union that is necessary to be an effective leader. He cared about musicians and it showed in his tireless advocacy for the musicians he represented for so many years. Please see Remembering Erwin Price by Jack Schatz and Erwin Price, in his own words.
Another life we celebrated recently was that of Mary Whitaker, who was honored with a service at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Over 700 musicians gathered to remember Mary. It was a testament to the way she touched so many of our lives. I want to personally thank Adria Benjamin for all the work she did organizing this wonderful event. Adria, you are my hero. See photos.
We recently became aware of an upcoming concert celebrating the history of civil rights in America. It was a laudable idea – except that musicians were being asked to perform for free, which ruined it for us. Remember, if you’re asked to play a benefit concert without getting paid, please contact the union immediately. Our first priority is making sure that you are protected under a Local 802 agreement. The union’s policy is that you must always get paid wages and benefits, even for a benefit concert. Musicians are free to donate their compensation back to the employer, and under some circumstances that donation may be considered a deductible charitable donation. If you’re asked to play a benefit concert, call (212) 245-4802 and ask for a union rep.
The Broadway League’s most recent report on Broadway audience demographics covers the 2013-2014 season. According to the report, over this time period Broadway attracted the largest percentage of visitors in recorded history. Combining domestic and international tourism, Broadway reached an all-time high of almost 70 percent, and attendance for Broadway grew by almost 6 percent compared to last year. Other highlights of the report include the following:
- In the 2013-2014 season, there was a record breaking 8.52 million admissions by tourists in the Broadway theatres, representing 70 percent of all tickets. Domestic tourists purchased approximately 49 percent of all Broadway tickets and international tourists, 21 percent.
- Sixty-eight percent of the audiences were female.
- The average age of the Broadway theatregoer was 44 years.
- Almost eighty percent of all tickets were purchased by Caucasian theatregoers.
- Broadway theatregoers were quite affluent compared to the general United States population, reporting an average annual household income of $201,500.
- Of theatregoers over 25 years old, 78 percent had completed college and 39 percent had earned a graduate degree.
- The average Broadway theatregoer reported attending 4 shows in the previous 12 months. The group of devoted fans who attended 15 or more performances comprised only 5 percent of the audience, but accounted for 35 percent of all tickets (4.2 million admissions).
- Playgoers tended to be more frequent theatregoers than musical attendees. The typical straight-play attendee saw eight shows in the past year; the musical attendee, four.
- For musical attendees, personal recommendation was the most influential factor in show selection. Playgoers cited a specific performer as the greatest lure.
- The most common sources for theatre information were word-of-mouth and Broadway.com.
- Fifty-four percent of respondents said they purchased their tickets online, a number that continues to increase.
- The average reported date of ticket purchase for a Broadway show was 36 days before the performance.
- Twenty-five percent of respondents said that some kind of advertisement prompted them to select the show.
UNION AND NEGOTIATION UPDATES
- Local 802 recently negotiated with the New York Philharmonic on its addendum to the Integrated Media Agreement, which covers musicians when their music is broadcast on a web site or other digital platforms.
- Local 802’s club date scales went up on April 15. The benchmark four-hour Saturday night rate increased to $360 from $350. Our complete wage scales are on the Member Docs page of the member portal. (You can register or login to the Member Portal using the links at the top of this site.)
- Theatre musicians will enjoy the benefit of a Local 802 union contract in two upcoming shows: the production of “Preludes” at the Claire Tow Theatre at Lincoln Center, and a reading of “Slaughterhouse Five, the Musical,” produced by the Somerled Charitable Foundation. If you get called to play a musical theatre job – no matter how big or small – please call the Theatre Department at (212) 245-4802. We’ll make sure you’re getting the pay and benefits you deserve.
- I recently attended a meeting of the AFM New York State Conference of Musicians. I am happy to report that our own Financial Vice President Tom Olcott was elected president of this organization. The main topic of discussion remains the creation of an eastern conference that could bring all the delegates in the east – from Washington, D.C. to Maine – together for a large regional meeting. We are working hard to make this happen and I will be reporting to you as the effort progresses.
- The AFM recently concluded negotiations for the agreement that covers the musicians that perform on the Conan O’Brien Show. Led by International President Ray Hair, the union was able to negotiate a three-year agreement, with increases in wages of 2.5 percent in the first year, 3 percent in the second year, and 3 percent in the third year. Pension contributions were raised to 11 percent and an additional $15 per show will now be contributed by the employer into a health savings account to help defray the cost of out-of-pocket healthcare expenses.
I’d like to officially welcome Rebecca Blum to Local 802 as our new Off Broadway business rep. Rebecca brings nearly a decade of union experience, including work at the National Treasury Employees Union (in both their negotiations and organizing departments) and at the Directors Guild of America. She also interned with several labor unions during her time at Brooklyn Law School, where she earned her JD degree. She previously graduated with a B.S. from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, where she first developed her interest in labor unions and collective bargaining. You can reach Rebecca at Rblum@Local802afm.org or (212) 245-4802, ext. 158.
MEETING IN BELGRADE
As I write these words, President Hair and I are in Belgrade, taking part in meetings of the Societies’ Council for the Collective Management of Performers’ Rights. This is a general meeting of its 52 collective management organizations. (These are the foreign equivalents of organizations like Sound Exchange, the AFM & SAG-AFTRA Fund, the Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies and the Musicians Rights Organization of Canada.)
As I have reported previously, many foreign Collective Management Organizations collect performance rights money under the provisions of the Rome Convention and its successor treaties when U.S.-made content is consumed in their respective countries – but they do not forward the remuneration to the U.S. artists and musicians who made the recordings. Because of the amount of content production that for many decades was captured in New York and performed by Local 802 members, my attendance at the SCAPR meetings will greatly serve the interests of Local 802 musicians.