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Another Hollywood strike looms: Musicians union ‘prepared to do whatever it needs’

AFM pickets with SAG and WGA
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The union said it is seeking a deal to better reflects the current state of streaming media, which includes AI protection, increased wages, health care improvements, and residual payments.

Los Angeles (CNN) — After a year in which both actors and writers hit the picket lines, another Hollywood strike may be on the horizon.

The American Federation of Musicians (AFM), a union representing musicians across the entertainment industry, will begin negotiations Monday on a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

The union said it is seeking a deal to better reflects the current state of streaming media. The AFM is also seeking AI protection, increased wages, health care improvements, improved working conditions and residual payments for streaming content.

According to the AFM, musicians who record on soundtracks make 75% less on streaming content due to less residual income. “The entertainment industry has fundamentally shifted,” the union said in a news release. But musicians “are not being compensated accordingly for streaming media.”

AFM’s president and chief negotiator Tino Gagliardi told CNN the union “is going to be prepared to do whatever it needs to get what we have to have, in order to make the lives of musicians better.”

“Our musicians have been facing pay cuts over the last year because of the change of the business model and how our product is distributed,” Gagliardi said. “We’ve got to fix that, so that our folks can continue to buy diapers, pay rent, pay mortgages and have a decent wage with a decent retirement.”

The AFM says it has roughly 70,000 members in the United States and Canada. Members include instrumental musicians working in orchestras, bands, clubs and theater who create music for film, television, commercials and other mediums.

“Music is what gives our favorite movies and shows their soul, and these workers expect and deserve to be treated fairly and given the contract they’ve earned,” Gagliardi said. “We are going into these negotiations in good faith, and we hope the AMPTP is doing the same.”

The AMPTP told CNN in a statement it “looks forward to productive negotiations with the Federation, with the goal of concluding an agreement that will ensure an active year ahead for the industry and recognize the value that musicians add to motion pictures and television.”

The AFM will hold a news conference, rally and musical performance early Monday in front of the AMPTP headquarters in the Los Angeles suburb of Sherman Oaks.

The upcoming negotiations by the AFM come after long strikes in 2023 by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). The WGA strike lasted nearly five months and the SAG-AFTRA strike lasted nearly four months.

And the AFM is not the only union in the entertainment industry which might strike in 2024. The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), which represents more than 170,000 production crew members, will see its contract expire in July. Matthew Loeb, the guild’s president, has not ruled out a strike.

“People are ready to fight and the studios would be ill-advised to assume that they’ve weakened us to the point where we can’t,” Loeb said earlier this month.

Due to the size of the IATSE and the necessity of crew members for production, a lengthy strike could be devastating for the studios and the California economy following the pandemic and the strikes of 2023.

“All of our Hollywood folks were hurting,” Gagliardi says. “We’re all in this together, and we’re all fighting for a cause.”

Written by Elizabeth Wagmeister

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