Thanks to Recording Vice President Andy Schwartz and Executive Board member Pete Donovan for this article.
The Officers and Executive Board at Local 802 are continuing to look for ways to best help our members in this time of crisis. One of the many topics discussed is how to work from home as a musician and still collect benefits. For those of you with home recording studios, you should be aware of the AFM SINGLE SONG OVERDUB SCALE AGREEMENT. Here are the highlights:
This agreement is designed for recordings, typically performed by one or more musicians, in a home studio, for a single employer, most often for an independent artist or label. You can use it as a stand-alone contract or it can also be combined with Limited Pressing and Joint Venture Agreements. More on those below. It cannot be combined with any other recording agreement offered by the AFM as it is a special scale rate. Let’s walk you through it:
1. SET THE RATE
You get the call from a vocalist making a record, and she wants to add guitar tracks. You listen to her demo and decide how much you would like to be paid for your work. The scale is set by the song, not by the amount of time like in typical recording agreements, and in each agreement, you can add up to 12 songs. The minimum scale per song is $100, but you can negotiate any rate that you wish. Now, whatever the fee, it is inclusive of health and pension benefits. A chart is included in the agreement that does the math to calculate benefits up to $500 per song. (We’re reprinting the chart at the bottom of this page.) Above $500, just use the same percentages as per the chart.
2. EXECUTE THE AGREEMENT
It is essential to get the agreement signed by the employer before you do the work! Download the Single Song Overdub Agreement at www.afm.org. (Log in as a member and look for the documents library tab.) E-mail it to the employer to sign online with an “X” and e-mail it back to you. Then e-mail a copy to Andy Schwartz (email@example.com) at Local 802.
3. DO THE WORK
Do not send an isolated track until you have been paid as agreed. When you have received your fee by check, cash or Pay Pal, Venmo, etc. send the employer your sound files. Up to 12 songs can be recorded under one agreement for one artist or employer in a six-month period. Multiple musicians can appear on one contract if they are all making the same rate. In this instance, payroll can be handled in one of two ways. Your employer can use their own payroll company or you can have them use Local 802’s payroll company, which is called Legit 802. If they use Legit 802, they will only have to write one check. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for info.
4. FILE THE CONTRACT, PAY THE PENSION
You will need to complete a “B-17” AFM contract (found at www.afm.org in the documents library tab under “B Report Forms”). Contact Andy Schwartz at email@example.com. Use the scale worksheet to find the amount of pension due. Each player will write a personal check to the AFM Pension Fund (AFM-EPF) for their pension contribution on behalf of the employer. This is the only AFM recording scale that allows you to do so. You also can make payments to your health benefits just as you would with an LS-1 agreement.
If the project you record tracks for reaches an aggregate manufacturing or sales threshold of 10,000 units, including digital downloads, you will be additionally compensated for an AFM Special Session rate. In plain terms, if the song sells well, you get more money.
Joint Venture Agreement
As mentioned above, the SSO can be combined with the Joint Venture Agreement (click here to download a PDF copy). It is worth going into some detail about it because of the proliferation of self-produced artists and bands and many of those with home studios reading this article also create their own music. It can certainly be useful on its own or hand in hand with the Single Song Overdub agreement.
The specific use for the Joint Venture Agreement is to produce a demo to obtain work for live performing or to produce a product for sale as long as the proceeds from sales exclusively benefit band members. It is a bone-simple three-page contract that simply lists each member of the band and their mutually agreed-upon percentage of royalties/residuals that result from sales. If a band has filed a Joint Venture Agreement and they decide they want to add a harmonica part to their album played by an outside player, that can be filed on a Single Song Overdub Scale Agreement.
Limited Pressing Agreement
The Limited Pressing Agreement is the other agreement that the Single Song Overdub can be combined with. The full details are beyond the scope of this article but it is worth mentioning because many of those with home studios not only record tracks for artists, but also assume the role of producer. The Limited Pressing Agreement is used for recordings where sales will most likely not exceed 10,000 units (there are formulas to calculate how that translates to digital downloads). In the event that sales exceed 10,000, there is an upgrade payment to the musicians who participated on the original recording based upon the current national rates at the time of the upgrade, with credit applied for the original payments.
This article was intended only as a primer and there are more details to these agreements mentioned. Most importantly, it was in the hope that we find our members new and creative ways to work from home and still collect benefits. It is possible to file all of these contracts via e-mail and the Recording Department at Local 802 is still working remotely and is ready and willing to assist you. Stay safe, stay healthy and keep making music. The world needs it now!