The Recording Musicians Association held its General Conference on Friday and Saturday, November 5th and 6th, 2010. Our Conference was graciously hosted by Local 802 in New York City.
RMA Officers and Delegates arrived from Los Angeles, Nashville and New York, and were joined by guests from San Francisco, as well as AFM President Ray Hair, Secretary-Treasurer Sam Folio, International Vice President Bruce Fife, and Executive Officers Vince Trombetta and Tino Gagliardi, along with AFM staff including Assistant Executive Director of the EMSD Pat Variale. We were also pleased to be joined by the President of the Regional Orchestra Players’ Association (ROPA) Carla Lehmeier-Tatum, as well as SRLA rank-and-file representative Neil Stubenhaus, RMA Executive Publisher Jay Rosen, founding RMA Officer Mike Comins and RMA Election Chair Juliet Haffner.
The assembled Player Conference representatives and guests were treated to informative presentations about our various Funds. Maureen Kilkelly and Will Luebking from the AFM-EPF (Pension Fund) spoke, and the Pension presentation included Trustees Bill Moriarity and Phil Yao. Trustees Vince Trombetta and Tino Gagliardi also participated in the discussion.
Rob DiPaola, the Administrator of the Sound Recording Special Payments Fund gave updates and information about the SRSPF, including information about an upcoming redesign of the SRSPF website.
AFM Secretary-Treasurer Sam Folio spoke to the Conference, and painted a picture of the financial challenges facing the Federation that gave us all pause. It seems clear that the new IEB is grappling with deep financial issues, and Folio described a variety of smart and creative cost-saving strategies that either already have been or soon will be implemented.
President Hair spoke about the opportunities that await us if we can work and act together. He expressed his deep commitment to organizational communication and transparency. In presenting some of his ideas to the Conference, President Hair demonstrated his gift for drawing a large group of people into a healthy dialogue, and ultimately led a round-table-like discussion rather than making a formal speech.
ROPA President Carla Lehmeier-Tatum addressed the Conference, and shared a great deal of valuable information about the issues currently facing orchestral musicians, seemingly as a result of a coordinated strategy to undermine musicians’ standards and livelihoods. She referenced dire news that has affected both ROPA and ICSOM orchestras, and mentioned the Honolulu Symphony, the Charleston Symphony, her own orchestra in New Mexico, the Richardson Symphony, and the current situation in Detroit, where the DSO musicians are out on strike. Alongside all the grim news, she also shared the good news of some major donations to orchestras and programs that have recently come through, and improvements in communication within the AFM.
Discussions about various recording contracts and related issues filled out much of the rest of our very compressed schedule. RMA leadership had invited members of the Local 6 (San Francisco) Recording Committee to join us at our Conference, and Miriam Perkoff and Artie Storch participated in a lively discussion about videogames issues that included Delegates and guests, including Neil Stubenhaus. There was discussion about the upcoming Sound Recording Labor Agreement negotiations that are scheduled to begin in January of 2011, as well as important dialogue about Performing Rights legislation before the U.S. Congress. There were brief reports on Motion Picture and Television, Videotape and Jingles that had to be truncated do to our short schedule.
The Conference passed a resolution to provide financial assistance to the striking members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and held a brief discussion of the tragic nature of the coordinated attacks on symphonic musicians that had been described by ROPA President Lehmeier-Tatum.
The Conference held an extended conversation about the new recording musicians’ fee that was authorized by the 2010 AFM Convention. The IEB, the EMSD Oversight Committee and the RMA Executive Board had already endorsed the plan, which calls for eligible recording musicians to cast ballots on the ratification of a small increase in dues on recording. Delegates, IEB Officers and other guests all engaged in a positive dialogue about the reasons to encourage our eligible members to vote “yes”. There is an urgent need to provide financial assistance to the AFM. We recognize that we need to properly fund the AFM’s first forays into New Media – the revenue stream of the future – even though the financial returns will not flow in a big way for some time. And by voting “yes” we are rewarding a dramatically new level of accountability and responsiveness on the part of the AFM. At the conclusion of this discussion the assembled Conference voted unanimously to support the ratification of the new fee.
The Conference concluded with the announcement of the results of our election, which was supervised by IEB Officer (and host Local President) Tino Gagliardi.
Our new RMA Executive Board includes some new faces, along with several veteran RMA Officers. We elected Marc Sazer President, Bruce Bouton First Vice President, Roger Blanc Second Vice President, Bill Liston Treasurer, Steve Dress Secretary, and Monisa Angell and Lanny Paykin Executive Officers. We all joined together in thanking Greg Jamrok, who chose not to stand for reelection, for his terms of quiet but effective and crucial service.
The Conference unanimously passed a motion designating past President Phil Ayling as RMA President Emeritus. Many voices were raised in praise and appreciation of all of Phil’s years of sacrifice and service on behalf of his fellow musicians.
We look forward to working closely with the AFM on behalf of recording musicians everywhere.