March 4, 2024

First, it was writers and actors. Then, it was visual effects workers. Now, it’s musicians who are demanding Hollywood studios provide pay and consent for using artificial intelligence.

This week, the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), the union representing Hollywood musicians, began negotiating a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) over streaming residuals and protections from AI. The talks are expected to continue over the next two weeks.

Like other unions, the AFM said it is not looking to block the use of AI. Rather, it wants to make sure that musicians can ensure their job security.

“We’re not Luddites,” Tino Gagliardi, international president of the union, told Variety. “In fact, a lot of our people are developing this stuff. We need consent. We need compensation. And we need credit.”

The union, which serves over 70,000 musicians including touring musicians, orchestra members, and nightclub performers, is also demanding wage increases. Unlike writer and actor guilds, the AMF does not get residuals for work on made-for-streaming shows. Musicians make 75% less now than they were in the days before streaming, according to the union.

Lessons learned from the Hollywood actor and writers’ strike

The stoppage caused by the Hollywood writers and actors strikes reportedly cost the entertainment industry $5 billion.

The deal between SAG-ATRA and AMPTP has resulted in minimum pay increases for actors, consent and compensation to protect members from the threat of AI like having their likeness replicated and replaced, a streaming participation bonus, and pay raises for background performers.

Following the success of the Hollywood strikes, musicians are feeling confident going up against the big studios.

“The AMPTP looks forward to productive negotiations with the Federation, with the goal of concluding an agreement that will ensure an active year ahead for the industry and recognize the value that musicians add to motion pictures and television,” the studio group said in a statement to Variety.

Musicians are likely not the last group to confront Hollywood studios about their use of AI. The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), which represents technicians, artists, and craftspeople in the entertainment industry, is up for a contract renewal with the AMPTP this year.

“All of Hollywood labor is fighting for the same stuff at the end of the day,” said Michele Mulroney, vice president of WGA West, in a statement to Variety. “It just comes down to really basic respect and fairness… We’ll stand with them for as long as it takes or them to get the fair deal they deserve.”

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