1. Register NOW and become part of this fantastic knowledge base forum! This message will go away once you have registered.

Musicians on strike v.s. synths !

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by AzureCrystal, Mar 7, 2003.

  1. AzureCrystal

    AzureCrystal Active Member

    A number of NYC musicians are going on strike to protest the use of synthesizers that they claim, replace many live orchestra musicians; Here is the link to the news article:


    I quote : "Musicians, who currently make a base salary of $1,350 per week, said the producers' demand is about saving money and would put musicians out of work. "

    HEY $1,350 a week !!! If I knew of a gig where I can make THAT kind of $$$ playing an instrument, I would have quit my programing job years ago !! That is a lot of money for business owners to pay out when the Union forces them to have a Minimum of 11 players... Do you all think the synth/sampler realm is a real threat ?? Regards, -Steve
  2. Tommy P.

    Tommy P. Well-Known Member

    Computer music on Broadway? LOL, how about holographic performers too!
    Beam me up Scotty :roll:
    Hopefully there will be a reasonable agreement between parties involved.

    Don't forget, we're talking about NYC, where the cost of living is considerably higher. That kind of salary barely makes for a comfortable existence in the 'Burbs, especially when supporting an average sized family. Ya gotta put in OVERTIME hours on top of that salary to survive.

    These are dedicated professional musicians who have made it to BROADWAY. Probably spent Grammar School, Intermediate and High School in honors bands and orchestras. Went on to major in music at College and so on. They deserve thier due credit( and monetary compensation) for making Broadway great.

    This kind of thing always happens every once in a while. Kinda like a cleansing. Trims the fat. Don't worry, there will always be great live music on Broadway.
  3. Kemble

    Kemble Guest

  4. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Keyboard players always think this is cool. That is because it doesn't
    endanger them like it does other musicians. They get off on the idea
    they can do it all themselves. On the other hand, most other
    musicians and drummers have had a problem with this for decades.
    Not just on Broadway but in studios and on club gigs. This same issue
    was raised by studio players when overdubbing was becoming a
    common practice in the 50’s and 60’s. Famed Nashville producer Billy
    Sherrill used to sneak into the studio late at night to do overdubs to
    avoid the union reps.

    I can remember when almost all night clubs had a 3 or 4 piece band.
    Not so now. Nowadays it’s usually a Krapie-Okie set up or a keyboard
    player and a girl singer if anything. I used to hit all the bars in town to
    check out the competition but now I don’t. I am not interested
    anymore. And other players aren’t either. It would seem the club
    owners have cut off their noses to spite their faces. The phenomenon
    has killed the music scene.

    The advent of synths really does impact the musical community in terms
    of available work. This is a twofold question. First doesn't the audience
    deserve the impact of a full orchestra rather than a midi performance?
    They certainly pay enough in admission prices. Second it's a labor issue.
    Unimaginative business managers will always look to labor costs to try to
    maximize profit. IMO this is very short sighted as if no one works no one
    can afford your product, be it a Broadway show or a car. Henry Ford
    understood this.. he paid workers $5 a day so they could afford to buy
    his autos. And he sold millions and went on to become the biggest auto
    company in the world (for a while). Why should the producers keep all of
    the money. Isn’t it equitable to spread a little of it around to the musicians?
    In the end if the Producers get their way, the overall quality of a show going
    experience will be diminished, causing a downward spiral of attendance,
    ability to collect receipts etc.. It could be the signal of the demise of the
    Broadway Show as we know it. That would be a pity. Kurt
    To help keep this site alive and growing, please show your support by purchasing one of our caps, studio clocks, T-Shirts etc. Banner ads too!
  5. Tommy P.

    Tommy P. Well-Known Member

    Jeff, you need to go see Sally Fields in the movie 'Norma Rae'. Or go to Hershey Park in PA.
    OK I'll spend some time with you on this Jeff, but just a little.
    You need to have a workforce base that will grow roots(in other words, you want them to make thier home near your business, have families and be available when you need them). That workforce needs to be employed most of the time for this healthy senario to take place.
    People take vacations, have babies, may get a cold, or other personal reasons for not being able to make it to work.
    So you have extra backup musicians and performers who are rehearsed with the show and can fill in.
    There are huge profits associated with hit Broadway shows, but as you know, NYC and the rest of the USA have been hurt lately, so there just needs to be some belt tightening, not a sweeping anti-union or anti-anything type thing goin on. Ya dig? Or you don't dig. Doesn't matter to me, you're entitled to your opinion.
  6. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Not an opinion, just an observance.

    I remember when they were building the opry house after they closed the ryman. As proof, the main support beam inside on the exterior wall is printed "opry house" Bell Steel and this was mortered over.

    Now, after the opry house was opened their were STRICT rules againt allowing a drum set on stage for the grand ole' opry. No way, would not, could not happen. Forbidden, not allowed.

    How long did this rule stand?

    Now, Opinion!

    Every industry is about change. All industries change.

    What if the Broadway musical was simply an artist playing an ARP2600 and the play was built around it called patchcord mania?

    Should the broadway commission dictate what kind of performances should be allowed? This would be art "controlled" IMHO. The definition of ART does not allow for it.
  7. TheSoundman

    TheSoundman Active Member

    I don't think tommy p was far off with the crack about holographic players. BTW, the actor's union has recognized the strike. Broadway is dark tonight (3-7-03) for the first time since 1975? In a long time, anyway.
  8. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    If we as the “Unwashed Masses” can be expected to be “socially
    responsible” i.e. pay taxes, respect authority, contribute to
    society by being productive, conserve energy, recycle etc, why
    shouldn’t the power brokers be held to a standard also? Why
    shouldn’t it be an employers responsibity to hire “X amount”
    of employees? Why should corporate interest be unbridled?
    It has been proven in history, time and time again, when the
    conservative Corporate agenda is allowed to run rampant,
    rampant abuse occurs. Just as we, the people are expected
    to live up to a set of standards, so should Big Money and
    Corporate interests. They wouldn’t be what they are without
    us. They do owe it to society. Anti Union Reganomics didn’t
    work in the 80’s, it’s not working now and I for one am tired
    of being “trickled on”. Kurt
    To help keep this site alive and growing, please show
    your support by purchasing one of our caps, studio clocks,
    T-Shirts etc. Banner ads too!

  9. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Let’s not forget that these people were out on the street
    Dancing, singing and playing their asses off in the cold
    For FREE, filming an ad for the City after 9/11 to try to
    attract business back to the city. Nice way to say “Thanks”!
    To help keep this site alive and growing, please show
    your support by purchasing one of our caps, studio clocks,
    T-Shirts etc. Banner ads too!

  10. pponomarev

    pponomarev Guest

    I agree with Fats.

    Social contracts go both ways.

    Let's not forget that a corporation is a legal privelege (the "corpus") granted by the sovereign (we the people, through our representatives).

    Abuse of imperial corporate charters was a large contributor to the war for independence. Thereafter, through much of the 19th century, the priveleges of a corporate charters were only given to those companies who could demonstrate reciprocal benefit to the state (jobs, etc.).

    In other words, if I scratch your back, you scratch mine.

    These days, however, many corporations seem to believe that they are only responsible to their shareholders, not to the people who gave them the legal protections which enable their commerce.
  11. Tommy P.

    Tommy P. Well-Known Member

    Although I made up my mind long ago to always avoid talking about political and social issues here at RO, I can see why I feel right at home here.

    A very cool and intelligent bunch we are over here.

    Anyhow, the strike is over, but the settlement needs approval by member musicians
    nynewsday.com/nyc-bzmusi0311,0,7215218.story?coll=nyc%2Dtopheadlines%2Dright .
  12. Bob Olhsson

    Bob Olhsson Distinguished Member

    A union is nothing but an employee-owned temp agency. The New York musicians are only asking for a fair share of some very substantial ticket prices. The market has set those ticket prices and anything the musicians don't make is just going to get paid out to managers and stars who need the money a lot less than the musicians do.

    When recording engineers' unions went away during the late 1970s, non-union engineers' wages fell to half of what they had previously been. If union musicians have to take a substantial wage cut, that reduction will trickle down to everybody. I wouldn't be too hasty about criticizing them!
  13. lambchop

    lambchop Active Member

    I'm sorry to buck the tide, but C'mon guys get with it!

    Your sympathies are well meaning but misplaced.

    First of all, speaking as a one-time Broadway musician, this strike was about Union Local 802 and not about altruistic concerns for musicians. The Local was protecting their source of revenue. Let face it, it might be nice for some musicians to get a free ride and paycheck for a performance orchestrated for 10 or 11 players, but it obviously is unfair. And all the talk about the producers getting fat and making profits - the only ones really making profits are the theater owners. How about all the flops those producers invested in?

    Guys, you live in a free market capitalistic society that in some strange way works fairly well. The market will ultimately correct its wrongs.

    Also, you have to accept change. It's the only true constant in life. Plus, don't give me this bull about all the time devoted to education, training etc. That was their own choice. If you want to give that argument credence, how about all the steelworkers out of jobs, coal miners, telecommunications workers, web designers, etc. - you see where I'm going with this?

    Music will always be alive and well and musicians will always be required to fill that void!
  14. Tommy P.

    Tommy P. Well-Known Member

    posted by lambchop
    But will they be able to negotiate a fair living wage ? Even big name stars have agents to negotiate the deal. Stars have their fame as leverage, ordinary people get together collectively.

    Are you saying the musicians would be better served without a union, or a different union other than local 802?
  15. cnegrad

    cnegrad Guest


    You ask an interesting question that I've been pondering for some time. There are good things and bad associated with NYC's Local 802.

    On one hand, I doubt the musicians would've won their recent battle on broadway without the collective bargaining power of the union, and the cooperation of other associated unions.

    On the other hand, there are many downsides as well. To begin, the "benefits" suck. Yes, the insurance policy they offer is better than nothing at all, but not much. The requirements to qualify for Plan A are too high, and there is cap on claims that is way too low. Plan B isn't even worth mentioning. Most other benefits are almost non-existant. In addition, pathetic union scale is supposed to be treated as the minimum that an employer can pay, but is almost always treated as the maximum an employer will pay. In addition, there is no union distinction between experienced, high quality players and newbies that are just starting out. More times than not, Local 802 acts in it's own financial benefit, to the detriment of their constituent musicians. I could level more criticisms, but I think I've made my point.

    So what's the answer? I have no idea.
  16. Tommy P.

    Tommy P. Well-Known Member

    cnegrad, you speak the truth.
    Politics, greed, dishonesty, favoritism, ignorance, apathy, complacency, lack of funding, and all the other evil $*^t you can think of. It plauges the world, not just unions. And as we get older and wiser, the rose colored glasses come off and we either fight it or put on blinders.

    I felt the members of Local 802 lost even more ground this time around. Sad. Sign of the times? Winds of change? Maybe. Times change, winds change, live to fight another day.

    In case anyone is wondering, I come from a union background. My mom was a union delegate for 25 years and fought the good fight for a lot of people in Local 1199. I have 24 years in Local 3 IBEW. I've always been active and outspoken. Once when I was a wet behind the ears kid, I asked my uncle, who was a Teamster, how he could be a member of such a crooked union. He calmly spoke to me from the comfort of his modest middle class Long Island armchair. " Thomas, there are mostly good hard working people in my union" . Amen unc.

    Tommy P.
  17. lambchop

    lambchop Active Member

    cnegrad! That's interesting what you have to say about the benefits. I personally found it laughable when I was an 802 member that the insurance payout for a "loss of limb" was a whopping $250.00.

    Also Tommy P., I will agree with you that conceptually the union concept has some benefits. I'm not union bashing all unions, but I do speak from personal experience when it comes to Local 802. Generally speaking (and I stress that this is general) 802's attention and energies have historically been focused only on the small minority of working pit and stage musicians in the NYC area. The majority of their membership was considered simply a source of revenue. The only true benefit that I can say that I ever received as a member was on the first day I had to sign up because a union official caught me playing in a club on the upper east side. After forking over my money I was handed my union card and a book with the names, phone numbers and instruments they played of the other local 802 members.
  18. cnegrad

    cnegrad Guest

    Oh man, please don't get me started. I've had a lot of experience with the Single Engagement Club Date division of Local 802, and their actions make it pretty evident that the only thing that really matters to them is their own revenue. They put on a whole BS song & dance about protecting the musicians from unscrupulous employers, but when it comes right down to the back-room negotiations, they're both pretty much in bed together, since they both have they same goal: P R O F I T. Even the pension plan is a joke. There's a lot of debate within the union membership about whether or not there will even be enough money to be able to pay out all projected pensions in the future.

    On the other hand, unions like SAG & AFTRA seem to really have their acts together. Great pay, great benefits, and they really seem to care about their membership.

    So I'm not so much anti-union as I am anti-Local 802.
  19. lambchop

    lambchop Active Member

    Yeah cnegrad, it sounds like we both share a lot of similar experiences when it comes to 802.

    Back when I joined (a very long time ago) I was playing with this group that came from Elmira, NY. I'll always remember that I had to pay them $240.00 (a lot of money in the early '70's) just to join and then send them an additional $30.00 a quarter. The other members of my band couldn't believe it. They all paid their union $25.00 per year! And they were afforded the same benefits that I got - the glory of being allowed to play in other "union" rooms. I was sooooo happy when they lost their strangle hold on the other clubs.

    Man, are you still a member and, if so, why?
  20. cnegrad

    cnegrad Guest

    Nope, I walked away many years ago. I just couldn't take the hypocracy anymore. Of course then I had to deal with grief from all the union offices that I worked for after that. The union was pressuring them to fire me after I quit them. The said that union rules prohibited the offices from hiring a non-union musician. They also told the union musicians in the office that they were not alllowed to perform with non-union players. Basically I told them that they had to decide for themselves if I was a valuable enough player to keep me on staff, and tell the union to deal with it. They always found a way to keep me on, and I was eventually able to negotiate a deal with my employers that paid far beyond union scale. NY Local 802 is just as corrupt and uncaring as any aspect of the record industry, period. That's my take on the whole issue.

Share This Page