If you are a recording musician, you get paid in at least two ways when you record for a movie under a union contract. First is the recording session itself when you record the movie soundtrack. The second is the money you earn from the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund. Your check from the fund, which is mailed to you every July, is proportional to how well your film did in “secondary markets,” which include TV, DVDs, cable and in-flight movies.
This is a big benefit to playing union jobs.
Sometimes, you might have money waiting for you from the fund but for whatever reason, the fund isn’t able to locate you. So, from time to time, you should visit www.fmsmf.org and click on “Musician Resources” in the left-hand sidebar. Then click on “Unclaimed Checks.” If your name is listed, then you may be owed money. Follow directions on the site for more info.
Local 802 is pleased to introduce the new administrator of the fund, Kim Roberts Hedgpeth.
Shortly after starting in May as the new administrator of the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund, I was starkly reminded of the old saying: “You’re never too old to learn something new.”
As the daughter of a musician, I thought I knew more than the average kid about the AFM and other unions and what they provided for their members. As a youngster, I would pilfer my father’s copy of Allegro the minute it arrived to read Dad’s “union newspaper” from front to back. After graduating from law school, working for AFTRA provided not only expertise in that union, but more than a passing knowledge of all entertainment industry unions, their pension and health funds and related organizations. Having worked with former fund administrator Dennis Dreith during my tenure as a trustee of the AFM-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund, I became acquainted with the FMSMF, what it did and who it served.
Or so I thought.
A few days after arriving at the fund, John Felikian (who administers musicians’ beneficiary records) came into my office with a thin manila folder. To my surprise, he said there was money waiting for me here at the fund. It turns out my dad had earned a small residual from a TV movie and a theatrical, which had generated modest secondary markets revenues.
Growing up, I thought of Dad as a composer, musician, conductor and arranger of Broadway shows, concerts and record dates. Raised in an East Coast world centered on live music and the record business, the film and TV business of “Hollywood” never penetrated my consciousness as a kid. So, despite all the knowledge about the entertainment industry, its unions and related organizations acquired over the course of 30 years’ professional experience, it never crossed my mind to connect the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund with the personal family legacy of Dad’s career – or to even ask.
The lesson: no matter how much we already know, we can sometimes overlook what’s right in front of us. Which is why, with the evolution and growth of the Film Secondary Markets Fund over the years, it is even more important to spread the word to AFM members around the country about the fund, what it does and what it might mean to them.
In the past decade, theatrical and TV motion picture production has exploded outside of Southern California. New York, in particular, has worked to attract production through tax incentives and other initiatives. The growth of post-production work in New York, such as the recently recorded score of the Paramount film “Noah,” means more Local 802 musicians can earn residuals in secondary markets.
In addition, with the hundreds of TV channels that exist in the world as well as more new media outlets emerging each day, motion pictures that were long out of theaters or off the air are finding new opportunities to generate revenue. Consequently, musicians are earning new residuals. And if you played on a sound recording used in a film or TV show which moves to a secondary market, there may be a residual waiting for you.
During the past five years, the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund has collected an average of $81 million each year for its participants. For the fiscal year that just ended on March 31, 2014, the preliminary estimated collections exceed $86 million. Residuals are collected from April 1 to March 31 each year, shares are calculated, and after payment of taxes and expenses, those residuals are distributed each July 1. An overview of the fund, how it works and how participants can best utilize the fund’s services, can be found at www.fmsmf.org. Unfortunately, each year some residuals remain unclaimed because participants fail to keep their addresses current, or fail to confirm their designated beneficiaries. The fund maintains a list of participants with unclaimed funds. Start at www.fmsmf.org, then click on “Musicians Resources,” then “Unclaimed Checks.”
On our site, musicians can also update their contact and beneficiary information, view their statements and sign up for direct deposit.
The expansion of production in New York, along with the development of new secondary markets for films and TV series, tell us that the Film Secondary Markets Fund will be an increasingly important part of the livelihoods of Local 802 members. All of us on the fund staff recognize that we must keep up with trends in new technology and ensure that musicians’ residuals are paid accurately and on time. We must continue to explore how to increase our customer service and support for musicians and the motion picture music community nationwide. We look forward to your questions, feedback and suggestions on how we can do our part in supporting those whose talents create the inspiring movie and television scores that audiences around the world love.
So, if you’re not familiar with the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund, please take a moment to learn more about what the fund may mean to you – like yours truly, you might learn something new!