Besides feasting their eyes on exclusive merchandise, the newest Star Wars Episode 9–The Rise of Skywalker trailer and panels featuring the casts and crews behind upcoming Disney, Marvel and 20th Century Fox projects, attendees of this past weekend’s D23 Expo got to meet and hear the musicians who have performed on soundtracks of fan-favorite movies and television shows for years.
However, unlike the Hollywood stars and filmmakers facing adoring crowds inside the Anaheim Convention Center, the musicians were outside in the summer heat, interrupting fans headed to the entrances just long enough so they could be informed about the grassroots #BandTogether campaign.
#BandTogether has members of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) fanned out across the country, demanding a fair contract from major studios–including Disney, ABC, Warner Bros., CBS, MGM, Sony, Paramount and NBCUniversal–that includes wages and residuals for musical work that turns up on streaming platforms, including the many launched or being launched by the content distributors themselves.
“What we do now determines our future, and the future for every musician who comes after us,” explained Danita Ng-Poss, orchestrator and music preparation worker. “We owe it to our friends and colleagues to ensure we are all paid properly. We also have a responsibility to pass along a career with proper pay to those who are starting out in the business, just like musicians who came before did for us.”
The AFM claims the studios’ refusal to provide new media residuals threatens the ability of its musician members to earn living wages in the industry.
“The music we make lives on for generations; a residual payment is only fair,” says P. Blake Cooper, recording musician and director on the board of Los Angeles-based AFM Local 47. “It’s the only way to actually make a real living doing this work.”
As the musicians approach the next round of bargaining with motion picture and television producers later this year, their #BandTogether campaign has gained the support of the Writers Guild of America West and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
“It’s not new media; it’s now media,” says SAG-AFTRA national Secretary-Treasurer and Los Angeles chapter President Jane Austin, in a statement from AFM Local 47. “We all deserve fair compensation regardless of what platform on which our work is being displayed.”
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.