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Liability Insurance – just say no

March 14th, 2009 No comments

A DMA (Denver Musicians Association) member called me yesterday asking if it was necessary to buy liability coverage for his band. He was offered a gig to provide lunchtime entertainment in a public square for a downtown business. This is the first time he’s been asked to show liability coverage, so he was curious how to respond.

I told him about the AFM’s liability insurance program that’s available for members, which “provides up to $1 million for each occurrence and up to $2 million of aggregate coverage for lawsuits arising out of bodily injury and/or damage to property for others, occurring on or off premises during your performance.” For a few hundred bucks per year he agreed that a liability policy would make his band more competitive, but the fact remains that liability insurance is the responsibility of the venue owner. Additional coverage only subsidizes and insulates insurance companies with double or triple coverage.

This question has surfaced more frequently in recent years for summer music festivals, city parks and public buildings. A local jazz club put this in their contracts some years back. Thankfully, a handful of local bandleaders responded by simply striking out and initialing that section of the contract. The liability requirement soon went away once the owner realized that other bandleaders would all take the same stance.

Nonetheless, more bandleaders are biting the bullet for liability coverage, fearing they’ll either lose the gig or face a lawsuit. And sadly, this is no different than pressures that we face every day from the health insurance lobby, the homeowners insurance lobby, etc., etc. Remember the residents of the Mississippi Gulf Coast who were forced by law to buy hurricane coverage? The insurance companies bailed on their obligations after Katrina, claiming the homeowners were victims of “wind-driven water.”

The insurance lobby has screwed us once again.

the Art of federal stimulus

March 10th, 2009 No comments

This mornings email blast from the Colorado Council on the Arts (CCA) contained disturbing news about anticipated stimulus grants. We should be very concerned that 1) only a handful of employers are even eligible to apply for these funds, and 2) if utilized, may only enhance a travel getaway for musicians who summer in Colorado.

The opening paragraph was very promising: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Public Law 111-5 (“Recovery Act”) recognizes that the nonprofit arts industry is an important sector of the economy. The National Endowment for the Arts is uniquely positioned to fund arts projects and activities that preserve jobs in the nonprofit arts sector threatened by declines in philanthropic and other support during the current economic downturn. As part of this important investment, the Arts Endowment has designed a plan to expedite distribution of critical funds for the national, regional, state, and local levels for projects that focus on the preservation of jobs in the arts.

I’m a supporter of the stimulus bill and also the NEA. But like most Americans, I want to know how federal stimulus funds will be disbursed in my industry … how will these funds affect my community?

The CCA email continued: “the National Endowment for the Arts has announced a deadline of April 2 for direct one-time grants to eligible nonprofit organizations as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Applicants for these grants must be previous NEA award recipients from the past four years. A list of Colorado applicants eligible to apply for direct NEA funding is included below:”

  • Arvada Council for the Arts and Humanities, Inc., Arvada CO
  • Aspen Ballet Company & School, Aspen CO
  • Independent Films, Inc., Aspen CO
  • Music Associates of Aspen, Inc., Aspen CO
  • Boulder County Arts Alliance, Boulder CO
  • Colorado Music Festival, Boulder CO
  • Frequent Flyers Productions, Inc., Boulder CO
  • International Tap Association, Boulder CO
  • Naropa University, Boulder CO
  • Shakespeare Theatre Association of America, Boulder CO
  • National Repertory Orchestra, Inc., Breckenridge CO
  • Colorado College, Colorado Springs CO
  • Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs CO
  • Sprinkle Art Inc., Colorado Springs CO
  • City of Delta, Colorado, Delta CO
  • Central City Opera House Association, Denver CO
  • Clyfford Still Museum, Denver CO
  • Colorado Ballet Company, Denver CO
  • Colorado Council on the Arts, Denver CO
  • Colorado Symphony Association, Denver CO
  • Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Denver CO
  • Denver Film Society, Denver CO
  • Denver Office of Cultural Affairs, Denver CO
  • International Institute for Indigenous Resource Management, Inc., Denver CO
  • New Dance Theatre, Inc., Denver CO
  • PlatteForum, Denver CO
  • Su Teatro, Denver CO
  • University of Denver, Denver CO
  • Western States Arts Federation, Denver CO
  • Fort Lewis College, Durango CO
  • National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts, Erie CO
  • Arts Alive Fort Collins, Fort Collins CO
  • City of Fort Collins, Colorado, Fort Collins CO
  • Fort Collins Museum Foundation, Fort Collins CO
  • Art Mobile of Montana, Grand Junction CO
  • University of Northern Colorado, Greeley CO
  • City of Lakewood, Colorado, Lakewood CO
  • City of Littleton, Colorado, Littleton CO
  • Littleton Center for Cultural Arts Foundation, Littleton CO
  • Anderson Ranch Arts Foundation, Snowmass Village CO
  • Emerald City Opera, Steamboat Spring CO
  • Bravo! Colorado at Vail-Beaver Creek, Vail CO
  • Among the three employers of musicians, Colorado Music Festival and Bravo! Colorado at Vail operate as summer festivals that import musicians at significant public expense. Consider qualifying criteria of each:

    The Colorado Music Festival (Boulder, CO) offers a base bay of approximately $270/week (4 rehearsals and 2 concerts), which is well below prevailing wage in this industry. Directly relevant to this discussion is the fact that cost of living in Boulder is higher than in three of the five burroughs of New York City.

    The statute specifically states: “Compensate all professional performers and related or supporting professional personnel on Arts Endowment-supported projects at no less than the prevailing minimum compensation.”

    In my view the Colorado Music Festival was ineligible to apply for NEA funding initially, and therefore has no place on a short list of employers eligible for stimulus funds.

    I strongly advise that CMF does not apply.

    Bravo! Colorado at Vail-Beaver Creek is a product of philanthropic largesse. The Summer ’09 festival will feature the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic as orchestras in-residence. They’re invited back because they bring extraordinary levels of funding to the table. Simply put, this is pay to play.

    Importing three major orchestras for the exclusive benefit to one of the wealthiest communities in the world is certainly defendable as a commercial venture, but not when drawing on scarce pubic funding such as the NEA or the CCA. The prerequisite as stated by the NEA is “to fund arts projects and activities that preserve jobs in the nonprofit arts sector threatened by declines in philanthropic and other support during the current economic downturn.”

    Let’s accept for a moment that Bravo! experienced a decline in contributions. The Vail community can still satisy their ‘discriminating’ musical taste by importing just two ensembles. And, they can just as easily take the family for a short drive to experience and support a wealth of entertainment and artistic offerings that exist in their own regional community. Their recreation-based economy would suffer greatly if not for large numbers of Colorado residents who support them.

    Similarly, I strongly advise that the Bravo Festival does not apply.

    President Obama has assured transparency with this program so the public can follow and track how these dollars are spent and review jobs created. I anxiously await the report.

    Pete Vriesenga

    If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it …

    March 8th, 2009 No comments

    Thank you Nikki, for taking the time to express your concerns. Yes, there have been a couple of examples where board members have missed two or three meetings in a row. Hectic personal schedules were to blame, and to their credit, these board members didn’t expect to be paid for those absences. Nonetheless, current bylaws require the board to hold two meetings per month. Resulting efficiency of the board is only compromised when members are missing.

    It’s also true that board members are paid modestly, compensating for duties and responsibilities that go well beyond attendance at meetings. This area of additional “duties and responsibilities” is one where I hope to encourage greater productivity and efficiency.

    For example, our current board is very effective with email communication. Email makes it possible to frequently handle business between meetings, weekends, etc. Occasionally I hear objections to email discussions (versus face-to-face meetings), and I understand that. But I also believe that email has significant advantages in context of board discussions. Email has a tendency to focus the discussion, provides a written transcript, and is far more accessible to board members who don’t reside in town.

    We must also encourage our elected officers to write and present their viewpoints in a public forum. This increased public visibility will strengthen our collective viewpoints and simultaneously create a forum for debate. Disagreements often arise within a board, as they should. Differing opinions lead to necessary and healthy discourse, but it serves no purpose if these discussions are confined to the boardroom … does it make a sound?

    Pete Vriesenga

    Categories: Local Discussion, Pete Vriesenga Tags:

    Larry Baird

    February 20th, 2009 No comments

    larrybaird-moodybluesDays of Future Past, the second album released by the Moody Blues in 1967, featured classic hits such as Tuesday Afternoon and Nights in White Satin. At the time, record executives were concerned that a rock concept album with full orchestral scoring could backfire, possibly damaging both rock and classical markets. They were quickly proven wrong as the album soared to the #27 spot in the United Kingdom, and then to #3 in the US.

    Original orchestrations by Peter Knight were recorded by studio musicians from various London ensembles, and later billed as the London Festival Orchestra. But it was not until 1992 at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado when the Moody Blues performed with live orchestra for the very first time. The Colorado Symphony Orchestra, conducted by DMA’s own Larry Baird performed the highly-celebrated 25th anniversary of the album release. Larry recreated orchestrations for Tuesday Afternoon, Late Lament and Nights in White Satin. All of the other orchestrations on the album (as well as thirty-plus original orchestrations since then) are all Larry’s creations.

    Larry has established a worldwide reputation as an arranger, orchestrator, and innovative composer of contemporary music. He’s an accomplished keyboardist, saxophonist, oboist, vocalist and producer. His diverse background, talent and experience, make him the obvious choice to handle the heavy responsibilities of ‘Orchestral Music Director/Conductor/Arranger.’

    He’s right at home in this capacity with name acts, including songwriting superstar Michael Bolton, Brian Wilson, Al Jarreau, RCA recording artist John Gary, and as an arranger/conductor for rock ‘n’ roll recording artists Flash Cadillac. He has also been conducting shows for, and working with former Styx keyboardist, vocalist, and songwriter, Dennis DeYoung, as well as legendary British producer and songwriter, Alan Parsons.

    Presently Larry is working with the renowned ’70s progressive rock band Kansas. He arranged and conducted their CD, Always Never The Same, recorded at historic Abbey Road Studios in England with the London Symphony Orchestra. Larry’s latest arrangements premiered February 7 in Topeka, KS  for a show that launched their 2009 tour. A DVD release of the event will celebrate the band’s 35-year career.

    If that’s not enough to keep him away from his Colorado home, Larry is also  Orchestral Music Director/Conductor/Arranger for the chart-topping band Three Dog Night. This amazing band earned its place in history with over twenty Top 40 hits, and three that have gone all the way to Number One! Larry recently recorded the CD, Three Dog Night with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Larry Baird at Abbey Road Studios. The band, with Larry Baird conducting, performed with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra on January 3rd, 2009, at Boettcher Concert Hall.

    Despite his touring schedule, Larry often looks first to his home community. For more than two decades he has been involved with the Colorado Make-A-Wish Foundation as Music Director for their annual Celebrity Golf Invitational hosted by former Entertainment Tonight’s Bob Goen.

    larrybaird-awardThe marriage of rock and symphony orchestra has generated a global industry for four decades. Larry Baird is a leader and influential force in this economy, evidenced by the fact that he alone has conducted hundreds of performances with more than 250 symphony orchestras worldwide. The Denver Musicians Association proudly recognizes him for his accomplishments.

    Job Creation Begins as Home

    February 19th, 2009 No comments

    petePolitical winds are shifting as the national economy heads south and everyone’s hanging on to their wallet. And though there is wide division of opinion on matters of how to apply government stimulus, all will agree on one fundamental principle and goal: JOBS!

    The Scientific & Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) is a major player with respect to economic stimulus. SCFD currently distributes $40 million annually to arts and scientific organizations in seven metro-Denver counties.

    Recipients of these public funds are legally bound by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that currently sets Federal Minimum Wage at $6.55/hr. FLSA requirements, or even friendly reminders of the minimum wage obligation, have never been understood or acted on … until now.

    The following survey is a welcome addition to SCFD’s 2009 grant application. It appears that the purpose of the survey is to assist in determining which organizations are in fact creating employment (if only this happened twenty years ago).
    My sincere thanks to SCFD Executive Director Peg Long, staff and boardmembers, for facilitating this timely change:

    Also regarding the section on Discipline, if your organization involves the performing arts you must check the box that most accurately describes your compensation policy. This is a new question pertaining to the Fair Labor Standards Act which has been referenced for many years on the Assurances page of the grant.

    • All performers are compensated i.e., paid an honorarium
    • All performers paid in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA, see assurances page)
    • Some performers are compensated i.e., paid an honorarium
    • Some performers are paid in accordance with the FLSA
    • No performers receive compensation

    “Right-to-Work” FOR LESS

    September 15th, 2008 No comments

    By Pete Vriesenga
    The Denver Musician, Fall 2008

    Amendment 47, “Right-to-Work” for less is slated for the November Ballot. It is as deceptive in name as its proponents: “A Better Colorado.” They claim that “Amendment 47 will strengthen Colorado’s economy, create jobs and make our State more competitive,” but nothing could be further from the truth. Average annual earnings for workers in right-to-work states are $5,333 less than their counterparts in free-bargaining states, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Right-to-Work states have higher populations (21% more) who live day to day without health coverage, as compared to free bargaining states. Poverty rates are 12.5% higher in right-to-work states and infant mortality rates are 16% higher. Maximum weekly worker compensation benefits are $30 higher in free bargaining states ($609 versus $579 in right-to-work states). Additionally, workplace deaths are 51% higher in right-to-work states because its very difficult to find anyone with the courage to SPEAK UP when Unions have long gone by the wayside.

    A Better Colorado wrongly claims that “Amendment 47 protects workers’ paychecks” (workdues under union collective bargaining agreements) when statistics clearly show that the alternative ensures that much of the workers’ earnings shall never trickle past the bookkeeper. A Better Colorado wrongly claims that “No one should be forced to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment” when federal law already prohibits compulsory union membership in all states.

    Support Local Musicians

    July 15th, 2008 No comments

    By Pete Vriesenga

    Denver Post – Letter to the Editor
    Responding to Kyle MacMillan’s
    7/13/08 story: Classical music: A fair wage — but those in bigger cities make more

    Kyle MacMillan’s story of local musicians struggling for a fair wage uncovers a harsh reality. Music & entertainment are among the largest industries in the world. The Vail Valley Music Festival, for example, is so flush with cash they’re importing FOUR very-pricey orchestras this summer: the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic, to satisy the musical palate of this affluent community. Combined costs for salaries and benefits, housing and transportation are astronomical, funded in part by your Colorado Council on the Arts.

    But the music industry, like our State history, is a story of boom and bust. The mountain resort of Steamboat Springs is hoping to lure a few of Vail’s musical patrons with a local, Emerald City Opera production of La Traviata in August. Musicians will receive $360 and a room in payment for six rehearsals and two performances. They’ll do good to come home with fifty bucks in their pocket.

    Absent from the story is any mention of the Scientific & Cultural Facilities [taxing] District of metro-Denver, which is quite unique to Denver. SCFD raises over $40 million annually for over 300 arts and scientific organizations. SCFD is showcased nationally as a growth model for other cities to emulate, but it offers little hope for the weary. The money goes largely to managment and operational expense while professional musicians, most with advanced college degrees, are typically pre-categorized as “volunteers.”

    Colorado Ballet to get orchestra accompaniment

    August 24th, 2006 No comments

    Rocky Mountain News
    August 24, 2006

    Colorado Ballet and the Denver Musicians Assn. have reached an agreement that will provide live orchestral accompaniment for the dance company’s first three productions in the upcoming season, which begins Sept. 29 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

    According to DMA president Pete Vriesenga, pit orchestras ranging from 26 to 45 players will provide accompaniment for “Giselle”, “The Nutcracker” and “Dracula.” Previous orchestras numbered only 30, Vriesenga noted. Players’ payment for rehearsals and performances will also increase 3 percent to approximately $97.

    Ballet executive director Lisa Snider called the agreement “terrific news,” adding that it ended a full year of talks with the DMA. Last season, a decision to eliminate live accompaniment for performances of “Cinderella” resulted in an increased commitment by both sides to avoid such cut-backs in the future, Vriesenga said. Snider added that Colorado Ballet is currently seeking sponsorship for a free student matinee of “Nutcracker,” at which the musicians have already agreed to play for free.

    The Phonograph Record Labor Agreement – A Great Deal for Media Giants

    January 1st, 2004 No comments

    By Pete Vriesenga
    Published in the Denver Musician, Jan-Mar, 2004

    Every day the music industry endures another revolution. New technologies facilitate music downloading and video swapping with as many as 250 million illegal song trades per week in the MP3 format, and yet, this same technology has enabled new marketing methods, allowing growth for small independents. Tower Records was the music retail giant of yesterday, and now they’ve filed for bankruptcy protection as Apple’s iTunes sold 19.2 million units in 2003 (surpassing physical singles) without ever opening a warehouse or talking to a customer. Last month Norah Jones’ second album, Feels Like Home (Blue Note – EMI) helped break a three-year industry slump by selling 1.7 million copies in three weeks.

    What does this mean for professional musicians working in the recording industry, and how should the AFM respond? There’s no stopping consumer-driven technology, so how do we use it to our advantage? The AFM has made great advances by securing digital performance rights, and the RIAA is succeeding in their efforts to educate and protect against illegal infringement of copyrights. How can we respond to consumer demand, while at the same time shore-up the AFM’s defenses against downward economic pressures that harm the major recording centers? How can we unify AFM recording musicians to prepare for an uncertain future?

    The “Phonograph Record Labor Agreement” (PRLA) has been the foundation of AFM recording policy since 1944, and is the AFM’s agreement with Warner Brothers, Atlantic Recording, Elektra Entertainment, Sony Music, Universal Music Group, Polygram, BMG and EMI Music. These major labels have negotiated with the AFM to establish all working conditions from session rates to mandated residual payments. This is great for the musicians who do this work, but it’s even better for the major labels because in recent years these negotiated terms of employment now apply to “the industry.” AFM Locals retain the right to establish rates for Demo and Limited Pressings Recordings (under 10,000 units sold); otherwise “the industry” is expected to be on par with the major labels.

    Independent producers can and do sign as signatories to the PRLA, and others name third-party payroll services as the signatory so they can choose where and when to use the agreement. But the use of the agreement is largely confined to the major recording centers where much of that work continues to be lost to non-union or foreign production. Maybe it’s time we take a closer look at this agreement, if only because sixty years is a very long time in the music industry.

    It was 1998, and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra was about to record an original soundtrack for a new fantasy film, Warriors of Virtue. The Law brothers, four Denver doctors produced the film. They wanted a full symphonic soundtrack because of their appreciation and support for the arts. They wanted the Colorado Symphony because they live and work in Denver. The only hitch: the Law’s refused to sign as a signatory to the PRLA, which is mandated by the AFM before such a recording can take place.

    The logic of the agreement is that royalty payments are collected and distributed to musicians through the AFM’s “Special Payments Fund” when a film is successful. If the film is a box-office flop (as was Warriors of Virtue) it is unlikely that it will go to secondary markets and residual payments will not be made.

    I contacted the attorney representing the Law’s to explain their obligation, as well as the mutual benefits of signing as a signatory to the PRLA. He was very familiar with the contents of the agreement, but his primary objections were the complex secondary market and assumption aspects of the agreement. Without wavering, he said he would not allow the Law brothers to enter into a 100-page contract that was bargained and refined over the course of many years by the major labels. The Law’s, by comparison, were already out on a limb after raising $12 million to produce the film. This was their first attempt at such and effort, so it was his responsibility to ensure the Law’s would not be bound, now or into the future, to an unfamiliar or overly restrictive contract.

    AFM Symphonic Services advised that it was my obligation to prevent the recording from taking place. After much thought I chose not to interfere with the project, and quite frankly because I found myself agreeing with Law’s attorney. Why should a small, independent producer be forced into the same agreement that has been negotiated by and adapted for the needs of Warner Brothers?

    The recording went as scheduled and I was then bracing for damage control. Within a matter of weeks word got out that the CSO “was open for business” and very soon the orchestra was presented with more than a dozen offers of non-union recording work. To their credit, the musicians elected not to follow the path of the Seattle Symphony by accepting this work, preferring instead to honor AFM agreements. But it was the unanimous view of the musicians that the AFM’s recording policies should be more accommodating for a first-time, independent producer.

    Origins of the Phonograph Recording Labor Agreement

    From 1912 and into the 1940’s, the Hollywood film industry was the subject of antitrust and restraint of trade suits from the federal government. Related negative press worked in the AFM’s favor during this period since musicians largely viewed the recording and film industry as a threat. In 1929 the AFM launched an extensive public relations campaign aimed at swaying opinion against the “dehumanizing entertainment of canned music.” By 1930 the AFM estimated that 22,000 theater jobs for musicians accompanying silent films had been lost to recorded music, while fewer than 200 jobs for musicians performing on soundtracks were created.

    Finally in 1942 the AFM took serious action against the recording industry. Musicians who made phonograph records were “playing for their own funerals,” charged AFM President James C. Petrillo, who then called for a ban on all recording by AFM members. The only exceptions would be the making of “Victory Discs” or “V-Discs,” which were created by the War Department to boost the morale of US troops overseas. The recording ban was finally lifted when Decca signed with the AFM in September 1943, Capitol a month later, and finally RCA and Columbia in November of 1944.

    By this time the recording industry was anxious to get back to business. The film industry was still under Federal scrutiny for anti-trust violations, so they were looking for an image makeover. Is it possible they agreed to complex and enticing union agreements as a means to maintain their stronghold in the industry? Eager to bargain, they agreed to establish the “Transcription Fund,” which would soon become the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF). The idea behind MPTF was to provide employment for thousands of musicians who were displaced by recordings. But it wasn’t long before many recording musicians viewed MPTF as little more than a payoff to AFM Locals. Is it possible the major labels had foreseen how the well-established system of AFM Locals throughout North America could then wage their trade battles for them, thus insulating them from federal scrutiny?

    “Shutting down illegal filmscoring” was a common phrase in the AFM, and we all read about these efforts in the AFM’s International Musician, and sometimes even the local newspaper when there was a good turnout. Surely some of these efforts were justified, but hindsight is 20-20. With the exception of the motion picture and television strike of 1980, all of these actions were against independent producers – not the major labels. Press coverage of musicians claiming unfair treatment while combating questionable, new production companies served the interests of the major labels very well. As the public saw the issue, it was the musicians and the AFM beating on their new competition – not the deeply entrenched industry that was hiding under the perception of innocence.

    Somehow I can’t help but to picture the top brass of the major labels gathering to watch this in celebration saying: “here’s a toast to the AFM … solidarity forever.”

    One Size Fits All with Jingle Production

    In 1982 the AFM, SAG and AFTRA were jointly objecting to the cut-rate recording practices of Tuesday Productions, which was a non-union jingle studio based in San Diego. Tuesday Productions sued AFTRA for antitrust violations and secondary boycott charges, meaning that the unions were wrongly targeting the studio when they should have gone after the producer. Tuesday Productions ultimately won the case, and because of severe secondary boycott laws Tuesday was awarded $10.5 million and AFTRA was forced into bankruptcy.

    Fearing similar retaliation, the AFM rightfully backed off and negotiated a special rate for Tuesday productions in an effort to maintain a union presence. But Los Angeles studio musicians strongly objected to the special rate claiming that it would undermine their established scales. AFM President Victor Fuentealba defended the deal stating: “I don’t think that the agreement that was eventually signed adversely affected our negotiations with the industry…and although it was naturally raised by them [management] at certain points in the negotiations, we were able to restrict it in such a fashion that it did not impact on the national agreement. What we did was the best that could be done under the circumstances.”

    Nonetheless, this would become the AFM’s last attempt at compromise as the Tuesday deal galvanized LA studio musicians in opposition against AFM involvement in recording negotiations. The Recording Musicians Association (RMA) seized on this momentum ultimately to become accepted as an official player conference at the 1989 AFM Convention. Consequently, RMA now has the power to establish regional and national recording policy, and the AFM president is fortunate to even be present at negotiations.

    As it stands today, RMA writes the rules and we’re supposed to enforce them. All of our collective bargaining agreements contain a mandatory clause that states “the employer shall fulfill all conditions required by the appropriate agreement of the AFM.” This little clause would be a wonderful tool to put more money in our members’ pockets IF they had say in the matter, but we don’t have that right. The members of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra believe that AFM policies have to loosen up, but it’s impossible for me to represent that view. I’m pushing my luck to have AFM Symphonic Services bend the rules sufficiently with the Boulder Ballet to allow a videotape of the Sugarplum Fairies as a free keepsake to proud parents.

    If it wasn’t fractionalizing the AFM this would be laughable. Imagine the CEO’s of Warner Brothers and Disney watching the Law brothers as they produce their first film, betting 2 to 1 odds that Local 20-623 would perform its rightful duty under AFM bylaws and do everything possible to stop them. I’ll bet they even raised the odds hoping that the Colorado Symphony would follow Seattle’s lead and decertify from the AFM.

    Fortunately we didn’t produce the result they hoped for, but it’s only a matter of time before corporate CEO’s gather again to watch another AFM Local fight off their competition. And the best part of this game is that they have no need to fear reprisal from the government as they once did before the Phonograph Record Labor Agreement.

    “Another toast…to the RMA”

    Note: As of 2002 the Phonograph Record Labor Agreement has been officially renamed the “Sound Recording Labor Agreement.” This is important because it shows that the agreement is changing with the times by recognizing that the phonograph and phonograph records are no longer relevant in the industry.