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Studio Musicians Reach Two-Year Deal With Production Companies

AFM rally
Linda A. Rapka / Courtesy AFM Local 47

UPDATED: The American Federation of Musicians (AFM) has reached a tentative two-year deal covering studio musicians with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) — including covering high-budget shows for streaming platforms.

An AMPTP spokesman confirmed Monday that the pact had been signed on Nov. 22 but released no details.

The AFM said Tuesday that the proposed deal establishes “fair wages and conditions” for high-budget shows made for streaming platforms. Economic improvements include an increase in musician residual payments for shows rented and purchased online, as well as 3% per year wage increases.

“Musicians successfully resisted attempts by the studios to impose unjustified concessions, including those that would allow studios to score more TV shows and films abroad, the AFM said.

“While these unprecedented achievements are significant wins for musicians, their biggest demand — residuals for work in new media — was not included in the final offer by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers,” the union added. “While the studios continue to refuse industry-standard residuals for new media projects, musicians
have made it clear that this is still a priority and that they will continue to fight for this basic standard.”

The AFM gave no details. Ray Hair, president of the AFM, said the deal is subject to ratification by members working in film and television, adding that this year’s campaign in support of compensation and residuals for content made-for-streaming, has energized musicians throughout the country.

“The tentative agreement, if ratified, will be viewed as a short-term truce,” he said. “While we’ve made meaningful progress on how we are recognized and  treated when we perform scoring sessions for theatrical and long form new media productions, our musicians’ concerted activity will continue as the backdrop to our ongoing efforts to obtain fair residual terms whenever we are engaged to score content made-for-streaming.”

Negotiations began in March, with the AFM holding a press conference near headquarters of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers in Sherman Oaks, Calif. Studio musicians had been working under the terms of an extended contract that was signed in 2015 as a three-year deal.

The AFM noted at the March news conference that SAG-AFTRA, the Writers Guild of America and the Directors Guild of America have been able to negotiate residuals for films made for streaming services, but musicians have been excluded. The union noted that musicians currently receive residual payments for secondary-market uses of theatrical and TV films, but not for films made for the internet.

The AFM held rallies last month to press its case for residual payments for programs made specifically for streaming platforms.

SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris pledged support for the musicians at an Oct. 7 rally near AMPTP headquarters, saying, “As an actor and audience member, I recognize the incredible work you do as musicians and what it means to our work, regardless of where it is heard. Your fight is our fight.”