Recording artists back AFTRA efforts

Cash, Petty, Korn sign for better recording contracts

Nearly 300 recording artists have signed letters supporting 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 will resume talks Wednesday in Gotham for the first time since mid-July. The bargaining was put on hold so that research could be conducted on health and retirement issues.

Signers of the letter include the Blind Boys of Alabama, Johnny Cash, Coolio, the Dixie Chicks, John Fogerty, Glenn Frey, Marilyn Horne, Wynonna Judd, Carole King, Korn, Tom Petty, Tito Puente Jr., Bonnie Raitt, Kevin Richardson of the Backstreet Boys, Smokey Robinson, Staind, Static-X, the Temptations, Billy Bob Thornton, Tom Waits and Dwight Yoakam.

The letter expresses the following concerns:

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

  • Labels do not give 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.

The current contract, which has been extended five months past its June 30 expiration, 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. There are more than 1,200 signatories to the pact.

The AFTRA negotiating committee will meet in caucus today.

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