The Musician’s Best Form of Protection
Professional musicians know there’s nothing like getting paid for a gig. The American Federation of Musicians and its Locals have negotiated collective bargaining agreements with a wide variety of employers, such as the major recording companies, symphony orchestra management’s, and others, to insure that musicians get paid for playing those types of jobs.
But not all gigs fall under those categories. Many performances, like those in clubs, stage shows, and for private parties, etc., are negotiated directly between the musician and the purchaser. Unfortunately, some professionals risk their wages by not filing signed contract forms–and without a contract on file with the Local where the performance is taking place, there’s little your Local or the Federation can do to get you your hard-earned money in case you get stiffed.
Standard AFM contract forms are easy to complete, requiring only such information as the date(s) of the engagement, the number of musicians playing the job, the name, address and telephone number of both the signatory musician and the purchaser, the type of engagement, the compensation agreed upon, and the signatures of both parties.
It’s also smart to include language in the contract that determines how disputes over the terms and conditions of employment will be resolved. (Using most standard AFM contracts takes care of this for you). This gives both you and the purchaser greater security because if for some reason the contracted engagement doesn’t meet everyone’s satisfaction an equitable mechanism for resolving the problem is already in place. In addition, the AFM recommends that whenever possible, members get a 50 percent, non-refundable deposit. Under current consumer law, all deposits must be returned to the purchaser in the event of a dispute, unless it has been previously stipulated that the deposit is non-refundable.
Once completed and filed, the contract has the force of law and the AFM behind it. If for some reason the purchaser fails to meet the terms agreed to in the contract, the AFM or the Local will make every effort possible to pursue monies owed to its members, including taking the purchaser to court, in certain circumstances.
US Engagement Contract Forms
- Form L-1: is for local engagements only and provides an option for the purchaser to have any claim that might arise from the contract arbitrated either by the Local Executive Board or the American Arbitration Association.
- Form L-2: is for local engagements only and differs from L-1 in that it contains no provisions for the resolution of claims or disputes. It’s recommended for use in Locals that prefer to proceed directly to court on behalf of their members by filing a suit to enforce the terms of the contract.
- Form T-2: is for traveling engagements. It contains no provision for the resolution of claims or disputes, as the Federation now proceeds directly to court, at no expense to the traveling member(s), by filing a suit to enforce the terms of the contract.
Canadian Engagement Contract Forms
- CA 1: is for single or steady engagements. Those Canadian Locals with bylaw provisions calling for payments to the pension fund on miscellaneous and/or steady engagements use the CA 1 contract format with additional language providing for pension contributions.
Radio/Television Contract: is used for live, recorded or remote radio and television broadcasts. Please note that US musicians should use Canadian contracts when performing in Canada and Canadian musicians should use US contracts when performing in the United States.
Contract forms are available from the Locals. Local officers will be happy to help you complete the forms.
Joint Venture Recording Report Summary and Application Forms
Vancouver Musicians Association – Local 145, AFM Contracts