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AFTRA members to vote on music deal

Committee recommends approval by members on new Sound Recordings pac

Leaders of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists have voted to send out for member ratification a three-year successor agreement with record labels.

AFTRA disclosed Thursday that its National Administrative Committee had recommended a “yes” vote on the new pact for the AFTRA National Code of Fair Practice for Sound Recordings. Votes must be cast by Jan. 30.

The union reached the tentative agreement on Dec. 15. The current deal expired on Dec. 31; if ratified, the new contract will be retroactive to Jan. 1 and run through Dec. 31, 2014.

AFTRA said highlights of the contract include an increase in base rates of 2% each year of the contract; an increase in the employer health and retirement contribution rate on royalty income by 1% over the life of the agreement; the retention of required special employer contributions that guarantee health insurance benefits for royalty artists on the current “roster” of a label by increasing the maximum on employer contributions from $5,000 to $6,500 per year; improved and expanded performers’ base of participation in revenue from sale of digital downloads; the establishment of a new structure of revenue-based payments for new areas of low-budget licenses and licenses for nontraditional usages, such as reuse of recordings in novelty consumer products.

The sound recordings code generates more than $140 million in annual earnings for AFTRA members. It covers singers, royalty and non-royalty artists, as well as announcers, actors, comedians, narrators and sound effects artists who work on recordings in all new and traditional media and all music formats, in addition to audiobooks, comedy albums and cast albums.

The current contract was negotiated in 2007 with a June 2010 expiration, but the pact was subsequently extended by 18 months to the Dec. 31 expiration.

AFTRA is expected to be ask its 70,000 members this spring to approve a merger with the Screen Actors Guild. Details of that proposal are still being worked out.

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