More than 100 musicians marched to the front doors of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, where they were not allowed entrance.
“They are in this building and they are willing to deny us behind closed doors, but they will not do it in the open,” musician and organizing committee member Jason Poss said. “They will receive these petitions, even though they don’t want to receive them today. This is a victory. We have shown what is going on and they cannot hide from us any longer. This is just the beginning.”
Supporters included representatives from the WGA West, SAG-AFTRA and the American Federation of Teachers/United Teachers Los Angeles. “We writers know that music is a crucial element in bringing our stories to life,” said Angelina Burnett, who serves on the WGA West’s board and agency agency negotiating committee. “Musicians make invaluable contributions to our film and television projects, whether they’re made for traditional outlets or streaming services. The Writers Guild of America West stands together with musicians to demand fair pay and respect for their work.”
“All 160,000 members of SAG-AFTRA stand united with you for good pay and fair working conditions,” said Jane Austin, SAG-AFTRA national secretary-treasurer and president of the Los Angeles local. “It’s not new media. It’s now media. And it’s time that they start paying. We’re all artists and performers, and it doesn’t matter if we’re in front of the camera, behind the mic or playing an instrument. We all deserve fair compensation regardless of what platform on which our work is being displayed.”
The chief issue in is residuals from films and TV shows made for streaming services. Unlike actors, writers and directors, musicians don’t get them, although they do receive residual payments for secondary-market re-uses of theatrical and TV films. The two sides haven’t met at the bargaining table since March. Their current contract is set to expire November 14.
“Musicians are essential to the entertainment industry; bringing films and television series to life with music,” the petition states. “As the industry speeds toward streaming, music is as important as ever, but film and television producers are leaving musicians behind. Without a fair contract for streaming, current and future generations of musicians won’t be able to earn a living doing recording work. I stand with my fellow recording musicians and the AFM in demanding a fair contract that includes new media residuals for musicians.”
Some 20,000 unionized musicians across the country, meanwhile, will soon see reductions in their pension benefits in order to keep the union’s $1.8 billion multi-employer pension fund from running out of money within the next 20 years. The reductions are required by federal law because the fund has now entered “critical and declining” status.