Archive for April, 2020

Musicians Exemption / NY Concert

Friday, April 17th, 2020

…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


I. Musicians to Be Exempt From California ‘Gig Economy’ Assembly Bill 5

by Jem Aswad (Variety) Apr 17, 2020

Multiple music industry organizations announced today that an agreement has been reached with California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and Majority Leader Ian Calderon on pending amendments to California’s “Gig Economy” Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) that will provide relief to the majority of affected music professionals, including recording artists, musicians, composers, songwriters and vocalists. Upon the Legislature’s reconvening, amendments will change prior language in AB5 that created obstacles for music professionals securing work.

Assembly Bill 5 is largely aimed at “gig economy” jobs such as ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft and is designed to make it more difficult for such companies to classify workers as independent contractors rather than employees.

Assemblywoman Gonzalez introduced legislation in January to continue working on the issues affecting musicians and a variety of other industries, following the passage of AB5 which established a three-part ABC test for determining employment status. The new language has been agreed upon by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), Music Artists Coalition (MAC), Independent Music Professionals United (IMPU), Songwriters of North America (SONA), American Federation of Musicians (AFM), the Recording Academy, International Allegiance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) and Teamsters.

According to the announcement, the language of the pending amendment states that most music professionals will once again be able to follow the Borello test (which defines whether a person is an employer) to determine employment classification for both live performances and studio recordings. The language also specifically provides for unions to continue to organize the work of recording artists, musicians, singers, and others.

Jordan Bromley on the Board of the Music Artists Coalition led the negotiations on behalf of the music industry.

“I am proud to be a part of this amazing consensus. Having worked personally with every stakeholder in the process for the last year, I can say that each elected official, coalition, association, union and individual working on behalf of their constituency truly cared about not only the members they work to protect, but also our industry as a whole,” said Bromley. “By reclassifying our economy of independent contractors into employees, the law ran the risk of making an employer of every independent artist making music in their basement, or garage band making ends meet to succeed in music. We kept the economy intact, but provided for any musician, recording artist or vocalist who got paid less than minimum wage to be able to appeal to the state for compensation.”

“Whether you are in a union or not, protecting the rights of working people has been the primary goal throughout this entire process,” said John Acosta, president of the American Federation of Musicians Local 47. “Finding a model that fits the unique needs of musicians has been no small task, and we are grateful to everyone involved for reaching a solution that will serve to benefit musicians and all workers throughout California.”

“I am grateful for the extraordinary work of the entire music community in California. This agreement once again reflects that we are strongest when we stand together,” said Mitch Glazier, Chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America. “The amendment appropriately narrows the effect of AB5 to clarify that music professionals, due to the unique nature of our business, cannot be treated as an employer every time they collaborate. We thank Assemblywoman Gonzalez and Majority Leader Calderon for being true partners in this effort to ensure that musicians can continue to create, live, and thrive in the state of California.”

Recording Academy Chair and Interim President/CEO Harvey Mason jr. added: “With this exemption, music creators can get back to work on their own terms of collaboration. The history of music making in California has played a vital role in shaping the world’s culture, and we can now continue that for generations to come. These are challenging times for creators but this is good news for those in California. I want to extend our gratitude to Assemblywoman Gonzalez and Majority Leader Calderon, and thank our own California members for fighting to bring this exemption to life.”

SAG-AFTRA Chief Deputy General Counsel, Jeffrey Bennett, added, “Keeping the music industry strong in CA, maintaining our ability to protect and organize the work of recording artists and singers, and allowing the creative community to thrive makes this a real and timely win for us all.  A special thanks to Assemblywoman Gonzalez and Majority Leader Calderon for their leadership.”

Link to original article:


II. B’way musicians want to donate a performance to charity. The Musicians Union won’t let them.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS planned to do a streaming broadcast of a  recording of a concert from last year in order to raise funds for it’s COVID-19 emergency fund.  All the musicians were paid for the original concert, of which I was the musical director. The performers unions would usually require new payments for this broadcast of a previous performance, but all the performers unions except the musicians union agreed to waive payment because the event was for charity. Due to the musicians union not complying the event is scheduled to be cancelled.  The musicians who played on this concert are asking the union to waive their payment so the event can proceed and funds can be raised to support all of the members of the arts community, including the musicians union itself.   BCEFA has already paid over $50,000 in relief funds to the musicians union and would pledge an additional $25,000 to the union.  But Ray Hair the president of the union refuses to waive this payment EVEN THOUGH THE MUSICIANS WHO PLAYED AND WHO WOULD BE PAID ARE ASKING HIM TO! Tell Ray Hair and the executive board to waive the required payment as the musicians are asking and let broadcast proceed, entertaining millions  of views and potentially raising hundreds of thousands for charity. This link provides more details

here’s the request from the musicians themselves

An open letter from the members of the orchestra regarding the streaming of our performance for “Celebrating 25 Magical Years of Disney On Broadway” as a fundraiser for Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund:

We find ourselves in a world that has been changed radically in just a few weeks by a terrible disease that isolates us and has changed everyone’s lives. In such a time, we must all come together for the common good. As musicians we have lost the opportunity to perform publicly, but this use of our recorded performance could have been a great tool to raise funds for people in our community that are in need.
It would serve to show the world the value of live music and could also serve as an inspiration to young musicians everywhere, in addition to being both entertaining and uplifting to audiences around the world in this troubled time.

Ray Hair, the President of the American Federation of Musicians, made this decision for us without our knowledge. We acknowledge that he is working hard to protect the rights of the membership, but we as an orchestra are happy to forgo any payment for the streaming of this charitable event, especially in light of the additional $25,000 of support BCEFA offered to donate on our behalf to the Local 802 Emergency Relief Fund. This generous donation would directly support the members of Local 802 who are most in need during this crisis. Now more than ever it is essential to join with the other members of the arts community to help those in need. We implore President Hair to allow the waiver of payment so this broadcast can raise desperately needed funds for BCEFA and provide a sense of joy and community that we can all share.

In unity and support of our community, The members of the orchestra
Jim Abbott                                       Ann Gerschefski
David Kuhn                                      Gary Seligson
Daniel Weiss                                    Steve Kenyon
Greg Riley                                        Tony Kadleck
Shelagh Abate                                 Jason Jackson
Lori Abbott                                       Laura Bontrager
Rolando Morales-Matos                  Horace “Junior” Wedderburn  

Howard Joines   Orchestra Contractor

Adam Krauthamer..President of Local 802 AFM


III. Comments

I heard this idea floated by a few people and it’s worth repeating here:

With work now disappearing at a rate (I’m in NYC and never seen it so bad) never seen before because of the Corona Virus, we all need to write the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund and DEMAND they release our residuals payments NOW rather than wait til July 1st.


We are a quartet and sometimes work as a string trio. We cannot pull extra money out of wedding clients to pay for the associated taxes for AB5. We will have to stop working if this law persists.  

[EC: See Section I]


Until next time,