GLENDALE, CA (Oct. 2, 2019) — On Tuesday night more than 50 musicians held a flash-mob musical street performance outside of Disney CEO Bob Iger’s book signing event at the Alex Theatre as part of the grassroots #BandTogether campaign to demand that Disney and other major film and television studios improve standards for musicians’ work in new media.
As Iger presented a live talk about his new book in which he focuses on the importance of fostering creativity and fairness, musicians called on him and Disney to grant musicians a fair contract for their creative work for streaming content. Musicians performed instruments and sang an original tune written specially for the occasion: “Iger, Iger, hear our choir, our pay’s cut while yours gets higher.”
“Musicians have contributed to Disney and Mr. Iger’s success with beautiful, emotional film music,” said Lara Wickes, oboist. “We want him to understand that we also need to support our own families and our own careers, and to do that we need a fair contract.”
Along with actors, writers and directors, musicians have traditionally received a small portion of revenue from the films and TV shows they work on. But with streaming, the major studios are excluding musicians from their fair share, slashing musicians’ overall pay.
“Recording musicians, like actors, writers, and directors, rely on profit sharing to stabilize income from a notoriously unstable source: the entertainment industry,” said Joel Pargman, violinist. “In some years this can be 50-75% of our total income. Producers were willing to make a streaming residuals deal with SAG-AFTRA, WGA and DGA, but want to exclude the musical artists who contribute so much to the soul of a show or film. We are asking for respect for our art, and for a wage model that allows us to keep living and working in our own cities.”
Members of the American Federation of Musicians across the country have been banding together to demand a fair contract from the major film and television networks. On this same evening in Nashville, musicians held a rally and press conference with allies including Congressman Jim Cooper at the Musicians Hall of Fame. The #BandTogether campaign has been gaining support from some of the top names in the industry including composers Randy Newman, Lalo Schifrin, Pinar Toprak, Justin Hurwitz, John Williams, Nan Schwartz, Jeff Beal and more. Rep. Ted Lieu has come out in support of the musicians’ campaign, as have leaders from entertainment unions including SAG-AFTRA, WGA West and UTLA.
“The studio musicians we work with are a priceless asset, not only in the artistry and work they do on a daily basis, but in the impact that work has on our society and culture,” said award-winning composer and arranger William Ross, whose work has spanned feature films, the recording industry and television. “Expecting musicians to work for less than a fair and decent wage undercuts their ability to continue to work and make a living. When you consider the contributions that musicians have made to the success of every medium that uses music, working to ensure that musicians are paid fairly for their invaluable work would seem to be the very least that could be done to acknowledge the critical importance of the music they create.”
Musicians have been negotiating a new contract with Disney and other major studios including ABC, Warner Bros., CBS, MGM, Sony, Paramount, and NBCUniversal. Musicians are organizing a major rally for the morning of Oct. 7, on the first day of the next round of negotiations, outside the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers headquarters in Sherman Oaks.