The new SAG-AFTRA national union sent out a special notice to its members today about working on music videos “and its fght for safe, fair working conditions and health care for SAG-AFTRA dancers and performers who appear in them”. The notice is an advisory to members of action which the SAG-AFTRA National Board may take at its upcoming meeting on May 19th and 20th, which may include a ‘Do Not Work Notice’:

For many years, dancers who work music videos have been provided a contract to provide them with minimum pay and benefits if they are hired to work in a music video. However, there is no industry-wide standard or agreement from the music labels that these videos are covered work.

The need for industry standards comes in the wake of the proliferation of dance and performance work in music videos, thanks in part to performers such as Lady Gaga and Beyoncé, and the masses of fans that follow videos online through services such as Vevo, a joint venture of Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Abu Dhabi Media.

In August, dancers stepped up their campaign by launching a social media and video campaign called “It’s About Time,” a joint initiative between AFTRA and the Dancers’ Alliance, a grassroots organization dedicated to educating dancers and building solidarity in the dance community.

The online campaign kicked off the weekend of the MTV Video Music Awards with video messages from dancers and performers including dancer Galen Hooks; choreographer/director Brian Friedman; former Pussycat Doll Carmit Bachar; and comedian Affion Crocket:


On May 19-20, the SAG-AFTRA National Board will consider a unanimous recommendation by the Executive Committee to implement a Do Not Work notice against music video productions.

Once implemented, SAG-AFTRA members may not accept employment as performers in any music video not produced under a SAG-AFTRA contract. A Do Not Work order for music videos is a result of the major record labels refusing to agree to a contract that meets the critical needs of music video performers.

This action will affect any SAG-AFTRA member hired to sing, dance, act or otherwise perform as talent on any music video that is not covered by the appropriate SAG-AFTRA contract, except for a royalty artist who is already contractually obligated to deliver certain services under an existing royalty agreement with a record label. Specifically included are SAG-AFTRA members working as dancers, singers, choreographers, cameo performers, models, actors, and most other talent. SAG-AFTRA members who violate a Do Not Work order can be subject to discipline, up to and including expulsion from membership.

This action follows performers’ efforts to secure an industry-wide contract for music video work, which most recently involved several rounds of contract discussions with the major record labels throughout 2011. SAG-AFTRA is continuing its efforts to reach agreement with the labels however this action is necessary because the labels have failed to agree to some of the most basic contract terms. Some of the outstanding issues involve guaranteed access to water and toilet facilities, proper safety protections for hard surface dancing, overtime provisions, health and retirement contributions and standardized rates of pay.

Please stand together with your fellow SAG-AFTRA members and fellow performers for safety and dignity on the job. Together we can ensure a safe and fair future for all of us.