AFM-EPF Drops the Hammer

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While it comes as no surprise, the recent announcement from the American Federation of Musicians and Employers’ Pension Fund (AFM-EPF) heralding massive cuts to member benefits is sure to bring more than its fair share of angst among AFM members who are part of the plan. While the plan has to be approved by the US Treasury Department before it goes into effect, the 1/7/2020 edition of The New York Times …

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Live Concert Recordings: An Old Topic Is New Again

For whatever reason, recordings and all the union driven guidelines around them, seem to be a hot topic. Everything from cell phone driven UGC (user generated content) to archival recordings keep popping up. In one instance, I had a composer colleague ask about why it is so difficult to obtain copies of archival recordings of premier works to use for promotional purposes to a general lack of understanding about how the …

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What Orchestra Musicians Might Learn From The Current UAW Strike

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How important is equal pay for equal work in today’s unionized orchestra environment? We examine this issue on a regular basis as it relates to substitute musicians, but the recent Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) work stoppage highlights a growing inequality at living wage orchestras between veteran and new-hire musicians by forcing the latter into a retirement program that provides markedly lower benefits. The impact on solidarity is self-apparent. In turn, degraded …

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The Cost Of Ownership Is On The Rise

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Over the past year, I’ve noticed a larger than usual increase in the cost of strings every time my wife orders new sets. Price increases certainly aren’t unusual and the rate of increase has been steady over the past decade, but 2019 year-to-date increases are around twice the usual rate. This has an obvious impact on the overall cost of ownership for orchestra string musicians, where anywhere from 11-19 percent of …

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Musician Dress Codes: The Topic With Staying Power

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Overcoming tradition combined with the challenge of practicality conspire to produce increasingly elusive solutions when it comes to updating musician dress codes. Having said that, it’s always a bit irksome is when groups attempt to address the issue by throwing money at it in the form of custom designs. Yes, it’s fun to play what-if dress up with foundation dollars and quite a few of those projects over the years have …

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