The Recording Musicians Association held it’s biennial General Conference over the first two days of March, 2013. This year, the Conference took place in Los Angeles, generously hosted by Professional Musicians Local 47. This year, 2013, was the 30th Anniversary of the founding of RMA in 1983. A substantial exhibit of historical documents, photographs, signs from past events and other memorabilia reminded the Delegates and visitors of the rich and long history of the Recording Musicians Association. Many thanks to RMALA Officer Jay Rosen for assembling and curating the exhibit.
Representative from Los Angeles, Nashville and New York were joined by IEB Representative and Local 47 President Vince Trombetta and AFM Assistant to the President for the Western United States Ken Shirk. The West Coast Office of the Electronic Media Services Division is now housed in the Local 47 building, and many Local 47 staff also provide services directly to recording musicians. We began our Conference with a tour of the offices, meeting and conversing with AFM and Local 47 staff, so that recording musicians from around the country could meet the people who work so hard on their behalf year in and year out.
The Delegates then gathered to discuss the state of our AFM electronic media contracts, the condition of business and employment and other issues of importance for recording musicians. The AFM has now concluded two major media negotiations, concluding the Sound Recoding Labor Agreement and TV/Videotape Agreements. We are in the midst of the Motion Picture and TV Film negotiations and Commercial Announcements negotiations are scheduled for the fall of 2013. The AFM has also begun unprecedented talks with major videogame publishers.
AFM & SAG-AFTRA Fund Administer Dennis Dreith joined RMA Intellectual Property Rights Committee Chair Bruce Bouton for a discussion of AFM advances in securing compensation for AFM musicians for use of our music in other countries.
A recurrent topic of discussion was the new spirit of activism, and the drive to organize employment, on the part of the AFM. The Delegates explored the success of the efforts to organize the tv show Mad Men, the activities that led to bringing the Ellen Show into the AFM fold, and the success of the Lionsgate tv show Nashville, also scored on union contracts. Difficulties were discussed as well. Ongoing problems with employers who take tax money for their productions only to ship musicians’ jobs overseas are a drain on the lives of musicians and the resources of our union. Cultivating strength through solidarity is a process that is in its infancy, although the Conference noted the new dedication to organizing on the part of the AFM.
Chapter reports were given, and some of the highlights included the resurgence of membership and activity by the New York Chapter. The LA Chapter reported on a number of activities, including a reorganization of the RMA Office, which is shared by the LA Chapter and the Player Conference. We were able to introduce the Delegates to our new Administrator/Strategic Researcher, Kathy Boddicker.
Elections were held, and the 2013 Officers elected are Marc Sazer, President, Steve Dress, Secretary, Bill Liston, Treasurer, Bruce Bouton, 1st Vice President, Roger Blanc, 2nd Vice President, Tom Wild and Lanny Paykin, Executive Officers, Rafael Rishik, Delegate to the AFM Convention and Lanny Paykin, Alternate Delegate to the AFM Convention.
The final afternoon of the Conference was given over to a very special event. Members assembled to hear a panel discussion on Organizing Employment in the Entertainment Industry, bringing sister unions and good together for an open and informative dialogue. The panel was moderated by RMA President Emeritus Phil Ayling, and featured Randy Himes from SAG-AFTRA, Steve Dayan from the Teamsters, Melodie Shaw from the WGA and our own AFM President Ray Hair. The over-arching theme of the panel involved the need for a sense of mutual support, common interest and long-term thinking by members themselves. Each of these experts talked about strategies for harnessing their own members knowledge and power to increase union jobs in Electronic Media.