200 musicians sign letter backing union talks

More than 200 recording artists have signed letters of support for AFTRA’s efforts to expand artists’ rights in the union’s sound recordings contract.

Negotiators for record labels and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists decided last month to put talks on hiatus until Sept. 18 in order to perform research on health and retirement issues.

Signers of the letter include Johnny Cash, Coolio, the Dixie Chicks, John Fogerty, Glenn Frey, Marilyn Horne, Wynonna Judd, Carole King, Korn, Tom Petty, Bonnie Raitt, Kevin Richardson of the Backstreet Boys, the Temptations, Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Waits.

The letter expresses the following concerns:

  • Artists bound to recording contracts are having trouble maintaining health insurance coverage;

  • Labels aren’t giving full pension credits to artists;

  • Artists are denied the right to acquire and market their recordings when the label is unwilling to market an artist’s work;

  • Artists are bound to “unreasonably long contracts”;

  • Artists should have a fair share of revenues from new technologies and business patterns

Both sides agreed two months ago to extend the June 30 expiration of the current contract, which generates annual earnings of about $150 million for 15,000 AFTRA members and covers performances by singers, music groups, narrators, choruses, actors and Broadway casts. AFTRA has more than 1,200 signatories to the pact, including the five major labels.

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