Archive for July, 2019


Thursday, July 4th, 2019

…Absolutely guaranteed anonymity – Former Musician’s Union officer

…The one voice of reason in a sea of insanity – Nashville ‘first call’ scoring musician

…Allows us to speak our minds without fear of reprisal – L.A. Symphonic musician

…Reporting issues the Musicians Union doesn’t dare to mention – National touring musician



This is excerpted from a Variety Article about the ASCAP Awards, you can read the full article here:

Michael Giocchino was introduced in person by Brad Bird (“The Incredibles,” “Tomorrowland”) and, via video, J.J. Abrams, Giacchino used his time at the microphone to preach the importance of the musicians who perform his music.

“Musicians are a composer’s life blood,” he said. “Without them, all we have are little black dots.”

Then he got serious, addressing the exodus over the past decade-plus of screen music recording done in Los Angeles.

“I can’t help but wonder how we went from an industry with work for every musician in town to an industry where a fractured community is rife with players who can barely find employment — struggling to hold onto jobs, and in many cases having to take non-music work in-between gigs just to survive.”

Giacchino admitted that he’s recorded outside of L.A. a few times, but he issued a direct challenge to the musicians union, and to his peers and any filmmakers in the room: “When a small independent producer wants to score here, let’s find a way to make it happen, not push them away. When you as a producer have a project, try to make it work here first. We have to say no to living under the shadow of a small group of people who use threats and inaccurate information to hold onto a business model that continues to strangle progress.” 

He strongly clarified that he isn’t anti-union, as the proud son of two lifelong union members — “but I watched over the years as they stood up to the status quo, demanding change from their leadership when the environment was working against their better interest,” he said. “And when an environment does change, survival and growth will go to the organisms that can adapt. It will not be easy, but the ability to adapt is the path to prosperity and survival.”

Giacchino’s barnburner speech was met with a standing ovation. 



Having given up on the AFM Pension’s future…

BREAKING NEWS: 802 musicians have ratified an agreement with the Broadway League by a 93% margin. The landmark deal includes the largest wage increase in 20+ years, a 23% increase in healthcare contributions, and a first-ever 401(k) plan option. By standing united for fair wages & retirement security, the Musicians of Broadway have won a historic deal.



Ray Hair has been re-elected international president of the American Federation of Musicians at the union’s 101st convention in Las Vegas. Hair, who has been president of the 80,000-member union since 2010, ran unopposed, as he did in the union’s last two elections.

Also running unopposed this time were incumbents Bruce Fife, international vice president; Alan Willaert, the AFM’s vice president from Canada; and Jay Blumenthal, the union’s international secretary-treasurer.

“It’s about sticking together, and protecting each other, because together, we can,” Hair said. “That is the meaning of real unionism. This convention is about what we can do together, about remembering who we are, what we did, and what we can be.”

[EC: They also allowed Tino to stay on the International Executive Board (Being paid by member dues) even though he lost his last election and is no longer President of any local.

We understand he remains on the pension board as well.

When asked about this, one east coast member said:

“The bylaws need to be changed to prevent this. To me this proves that they are corrupt and on the take. They’re getting kickbacks from the investment firms…”]



Musicians Union Rallies for Streaming Residuals, Seeking to End Disparity With Other Guilds

They’re “sticking it to musicians [and] that’s not fair, that’s not right,” said one AFM Local 47 leader.

Over one hundred members and supporters of the American Federation of Musicians Local 47 rallied Thursday at the Sherman Oaks headquarters of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, demanding something that above-the-line guilds achieved in 2014 and enhanced in 2017: residuals on product made for streaming services such as Netflix and its coming wave of competitors from Disney, Comcast and others.

Obtaining contracts that harmonize with the other guilds’ would be sweet music for Local 47, but so far the instrumentalists are finding themselves drummed out by the AMPTP. As the industry pivots ever more toward streaming video on demand platforms, musicians assert they are being left behind. They get no residuals on SVOD product.

It’s a familiar place for the AFM, since — even before SVOD — musicians were (and remain) subject to contracts that pay out residuals under far fewer circumstances than directors, writers and actors enjoy; the checks are smaller too. But the sotto voce contracts are also a bitter irony, because the AFM was a powerhouse in the earliest fights for residuals during the 1940s and ’50s.

“We are through being scared, we are though being pushed around, we are through being treated like second-class citizens,” said Jason Poss, a Local 47 member who is one of the leaders of the union’s effort. “We know they make huge profits on streaming media. We know they can afford to pay everyone properly and still make millions.… They don’t get to make more by sticking it to musicians. That’s not fair, that’s not right, and today they will know that we are standing together because we will not allow it.”

But it’s a tough fight. Gone are the days when huge orchestras routinely convened on studio lots. Offshoring of work has been a concern for half a century, and today it is even easier thanks to the Internet and other telecom technology, with London and Eastern Europe as popular destinations. The union’s existing TV and theatrical contracts expired over a year ago, then were extended to this November but without progress on the residuals issue.

In addition to Poss, other speakers at the rally were UTLA (teachers union) vp Juan Ramirez, SAG-AFTRA secretary-treasurer Jane Austin, WGA West executive board member Angelina Burnett, Local 47 musician Lara Wickes and Local 47 musician and executive board member Dylan Hart.

Poss also attempted to deliver residuals petitions signed by over 500 members to the AMPTP, but was rebuffed when the organization refused to answer the intercom and building security kept the front door locked.

The shoe was on the other foot almost 80 years ago though. In those days, the AFM was powerful enough to resist entreaties from management, the general public and even the U.S. president, maintaining a two-year strike against the radio and record industries even during wartime and despite an appeal from no less than FDR.

That labor action, the so-called Recording Ban of 1942-44, and a 1948 Recording Ban, were led by the AFM’s then-legendary leader James Petrillo and were instrumental in securing some of the earliest residuals. But that was then. Now the question has become whether a vastly weaker union can muster the crescendo necessary to convince the AMPTP to welcome players into fuller membership in the residuals club — or whether a de-residualized solo will be the union’s fate.

Jonathan Handel, Hollywood Reporter


Till next time,