Musicians Could Be Next to Disturb Hollywood’s Labor Peace

In the wake of monthslong work stoppages by both writers and actors, musicians prepare to negotiate over similar issues.

Union Local 274 American Federation Of Musicians sign
Photo by Nick Philly via CC BY-SA 4.0

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At least they’ll be chanting in harmony on the picket lines. 

The American Federation of Musicians (AFM) entered contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers this week, and if 2023 was any indication of how talks will go down, another Hollywood strike could be on tap after just a few months of labor peace

Streaming Setbacks

Last year, movie and TV studios experienced the doubleheader of monthslong, simultaneous strikes from the Writers Guild Of America and the Screen Actors Guild, with both groups seeking better pay, stronger benefits, increased compensation from streaming, and clear protections from studios as they increasingly dabble with AI-generated content. 

Now, the AFM, which represents roughly 70,000 musicians, is looking for the same:

  • Getting properly paid for work featured on streaming platforms is one of the union’s biggest concerns. According to the AFM, musicians who record soundtracks make 75% less on streaming content because of lower residuals.
  • Union president Tino Gagliardi told CNN that the group is “prepared to do whatever it needs to get what we have to have, in order to make the lives of musicians better.”

Record scratch: This wouldn’t be the musician union’s first strike, but it’s been roughly 80 years since its most notable work stoppage. Back then, members were protesting major American record companies over royalty disputes, and tens of thousands of musicians stopped recording music from 1942 to 1944, marking it the longest strike in the entertainment industry’s history. Attention spans were longer back then.