Early in the morning of Saturday, January 28, RMA Secretary Steve Dress and I met at Los Angeles International Airport for a flight to Nashville Tennessee. We had been invited by the RMA Nashville Chapter, and RMA First Vice President, Bruce Bouton to participate in an open meeting hosted by Nashville AFM Local 257.
Nashville is known as a worldwide center of the music industry, earning it the nickname “Music City”. The home of many of the greatest musical artists in the world, spanning a variety of musical styles and backgrounds, Nashville is well known within the AFM as a premiere recording center. Each time we go in to negotations, we prepare by looking at employment data. Each time, we look back at the previous contract cycle and observe the tens of millions of dollars of recording employment that emanates from “Music City”.
On our first evening we were privileged to accompany Local 257 President and IEB Officer Dave Pomeroy and Local 257 Secretary-Treasurer Craig Krampf to a performance of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. We were treated to a splendid performance by a world-class orchestra in one of the most beautiful concert halls in the world. Afterwards, we went out with Laura Ross, Secretary of ICSOM and longtime union activist in many roles, as well as violinist with the Nashville Symphony.
One of our important goals was furthering our long-standing work of helping improve communications between Locals that cover media employment, and between those Locals and the AFM. We spent some hours in the offices of Local 257, speaking with Dave Pomeroy as well as staff members, some of whom we were able to meet for the first time. Juanita Copeland, the Director of Recording Services at Local 257, was particularly helpful in helping with questions about internal communications and problem-solving protocols. With Dave Pomeroy, we explored ideas about new software solutions for case management and member queries that might be useful for both some Locals and the AFM’s Electronic Media Services Division.
On our last night in Nashville we attended a meeting at the Local with the RMA Nashville Chapter and both member and non-member musicians, chaired by Bruce Bouton. RMA Nashville Treasurer Tom Wild and RMA Nashville President Bouton reported on the tremendous new success of the AFM-AFTRA Fund, and introduced a wide-ranging discussion of intellectual property rights issues that are of direct impact on musicians. After Chapter business concluded, I gave a brief report about RMA and AFM activities over the last year, noting our successful ratification of the new Sound Recording Labor Agreement, the New Use Meetings that RMA had helped sponsor last year to help the AFM assess resources and current practice, RMA assistance in passing the new recording musicians’ fee, and the greatly strengthened solidarity we are seeing with other entertainment industry unions, including AFTRA, SAG, I.A.T.S.E and others.
After our reports, the meeting was given over to a discussion of recording issues in Nashville. I was impressed with the openness, transparency and honest of the conversation, as well as the articulateness with which musicians expressed their concerns and perspectives. There was a sense of being in a friend’s home, invited in to a family discussion. The recording musicians in Nashville clearly form a close and tight-knit community.
Though we are a mobile society, we do have distinct communities in New York, in Nashville, in Los Angeles and elsewhere. It is important for communities of recording musicians in different cities to know each other and cultivate relationships that are the foundation of solidarity, both for ongoing issues and for the labor agreement negotiations that occur periodically.
As a final treat, Bruce Bouton and RMA Nashville Officer Tom Wild took us to The Station Inn, a club that is home to The Time Jumpers, a world-class band led by Vince Gill. From Paul Franklin on pedal steel to fiddle players Joe Spivey and Larry Franklin, this was a world-class treat. It was especially fitting and symmetrical that our trip to Nashville began and ended with some of the greatest music in the world, from the Nashville Symphony to the Time Jumpers.
We would like to express our appreciation to Dave Pomeroy, Craig Krampf, Bruce Bouton, Tom Wild, Monisa Angell, and all the folks who made our trip to Nashville enjoyable and informative.