Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Shake Up at the Musicians' Union

The sitting president of the national musicians' union just lost re-election. As anyone familiar with unions knows, this is unusual. It's a symptom of years of declining membership due to issues familiar with any union, as well as the larger problem of a dwindling live music scene. This has lead to factionalization, and less unity, as too often happens with workers during crisis.

Generally speaking, a lower financial reward means less time for people to devote to the craft. You have to go out and make a 'real living'. In other words, quality and creativity declines. After all, it is somewhat dangerous to be a starving artist in the United States; you're one accident away from bankruptcy or homelessness.

Ray Hair, president of AFM Local 72-147 in Dallas, Texas has won the election for President of the American Federation of Musicians over incumbent Tom Lee. Lee conceded the election this evening in Las Vegas at the AFM Convention. Hair was supported by groups including recording musicians who had opposed many of Lee’s proposals to make AFM recording more competitive including buyout videogame recording contracts....
One of the challenges Hair faces is balancing the interests of competing groups within the AFM. A union made up primarily of part-time musicians, the AFM also covers film and television recording and symphonic work. RMA recording musicians have made no secret of their concerns that the AFM is not looking out after their best interests, with Lee attempting to balance the needs of established full-time recording musicians against those recording musicians who have lost work due to recording work being outsourced to buyout locations including Seattle, London, and eastern Europe. The advent of real-time recording links to studios around the world via the Internet has created an even more competitive environment.(1)

1'Ray Hair Elected President of AFM at Vegas Convention' - Film Music Magazine

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