Jan 23, 2024 2 min read

American musicians' union begins talks over AI and streaming with the Hollywood studios

Negotiations are underway in Hollywood over the union contracts of musicians who make music for films and TV programmes, with commitments around AI and new payments from streamed shows among the priorities of the American Federation Of Musicians

American musicians' union begins talks over AI and streaming with the Hollywood studios

The American Federation Of Musicians has begun talks with the Hollywood studios over the contracts that cover music made for films and TV shows, with AI and streaming remuneration high up the agenda. Both of these were issues that prompted last year's strikes by US actors and writers. 

Pre-empting the talks, the union told its members earlier this month: "We’re fighting for our fair share. That means better compensation, including an industry-standard and sustainable streaming residual, wage increases and health care improvements. It means fighting for AI protections so that your work is not captured and used without permission or compensation". 

When it comes to movies and TV, musicians are concerned about producers starting to use AI-generated music instead of commissioning new compositions and recordings. And, as with the wider music community, there are also concerns about existing recordings owned by the studios being used to train generative AI models without getting the consent of performers. 

However, AFM is keen to stress that its members are embracing new AI technologies, they just want to make sure their interests are protected as it is increasingly employed across the music, movie and TV industries. 

The union’s International President Tino Gagliardi told Variety: “We’re not Luddites. In fact, a lot of our people are developing this stuff. We need consent. We need compensation. And we need credit". 

When it comes to music used in programmes made for streaming platforms, AFM members do not currently get additional remuneration when that content is streamed, which is something the union wants to change in this round of talks. 

“The business model has changed for all of us”, Gagliardi continued. “Musicians are making 75% less now than they were before the streaming model. We need to have a residual on streaming". 

In its statement earlier this month, AFM confirmed that it had followed closely last year's negotiations between the actor and writer unions and the studios.

"Collaborating with and learning from our sibling unions, Writers Guild Of America and SAG-AFTRA, during their strikes last year, we redefined solidarity”, it said. “We secured new commitments from political, labour and entertainment industry leaders to join us in our fight". 

Negotiations for the studios will be led by the Alliance Of Motion Picture And Television Producers. It told reporters that it "looks forward to productive negotiations with AFM, with the goal of concluding an agreement that will ensure an active year ahead for the industry and recognise the value that musicians add to motion pictures and television". 

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