The Musicians’ Voice

Volume CIV, No. 2February, 2004

The Musicians’ Voice is an open forum for discussion about the state of union affairs. The views expressed here do not express the views of Local 802. Please keep all letters to 300 words and send them to Allegro, c/o Local 802, 322 West 48th Street, New York, NY 10036, or e-mail Mikael Elsila, the editor, at


To the Editor:

I recently received an open letter to musicians from Democratic presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich. No other candidate has reached out in this way to our community. It reinforces my feelings about him being the candidate who understands working class needs (he grew up poor, occasionally having to live in cars as a child), and the desire to be a citizen of a more cooperative, peaceful country, where the needs of every citizen (such as universal health coverage and education) and our environment are top priorities. He is also the only union member running (he’s a member of IATSE Local 600).

I urge all my colleagues to read Kucinich’s letter and to look into his long history of political service to his city (he saved Cleveland millions of dollars in electricity costs by standing up to big money interests), state (he has been a member of the Ohio State Senate and is now a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, defeating incumbent Republicans in many of his political victories), and country (he courageously spoke out against the war in Iraq way before we went in there, and has maintained a consistently peaceful stance since).

He has many well thought-out proposals (such as creating a cabinet-level department of peace, a plan to get our troops home and out of harm’s way in 90 days, and paying for universal health care and other sorely-needed domestic programs by trimming the bloated Pentagon budget) that would take our country in a direction that would make life better for all Americans, not just the monied few, as well as return us to a more cooperative position with the other nations of the world in dealing with trade, terrorism and the environment.

I posted a copy of Kucinich’s letter at, under “NEWS.”

–Jeff Schiller


To the Editor:

Donelian Music is a solely owned publishing company. In 2003, we received distributions from Harry Fox Agency (HFA) in the amount of $106.58. Recently, we received a notice announcing an increase in HFA’s commission rate from 5.75 percent to 6.75 percent, and the imposition of a new “Affiliate” fee, beginning in April.

According to HFA’s schedule, an “Affiliate” fee of $200 applies for distributions under $499. For Donelian Music, a net loss would result, assuming distributions remain at or near current levels. Even with the announced increase in the statutory rate for five-minute works from 8 cents to 8.5 cents, this fee will exceed our distributions.

Proportionally, the “Affiliate” fee for higher distributions is dramatically lower. For amounts up to $9,999 a $400 fee applies; up to $99,999, $500; up to $249,000, $600; $250,000 and above, $800.

$800 is less than 1/3 percent of $250,000! Whereas $200 represents 188 percent of Donelian Music’s distributions! The fee schedule is lenient to companies with larger distributions and punitive to those earning less.

We are being told by HFA, in effect: “Small companies are not worth our time.”

Besides diminishing returns experienced universally resulting from well-known industry-wide problems, small businesses can’t afford to even collect those modest distributions that nonetheless are due.

The fee scale devised by HFA’s Board of Directors is lopsided and unfair. We understand that HFA’s licensing expense is unrelated to CD sales. However, HFA’s income increases exponentially with CD sales.

HFA serves the entire music community. HFA ought to embrace community service, considering the multi-faceted and entrepreneurial nature of small companies. The small voice of small businesses gets lost at board meetings. By discouraging risk-taking, HFA is supporting a homogenous industry dominated by big publishing conglomerates.

We urge HFA to adopt a percentage-based “Affiliate” fee scale.

–Armen Donelian