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Ideas for Vermont Musicians Union

June 16, 2011 by DiB   Comments (5)

 

In response to the discussion that has started regarding a potential Vermont Musicians Union….  I did some critical thinking last night to consider the question of whether such an organization would be worthwhile for its members (Conclusion: I think it would) and, if so, what valuable services could such a union provide.

The following bullet points are the results of my brain-storming:

MASS NEGOTIATING (and therefore lower prices) for products and services that are used by many of us, including:

Web design / maintenance (maybe including a programmer building a template which could be easily customized / modified according to individual preference)

- Studio and Production expenses

- CD and other media manufacturing

- Merch

- Benefits (including Health Insurance of some form?)

NETWORKING …creating a forum to connect musicians to “musician friendly” folks who provide essential services at a fair rate, and also others who they feel may be interested in spreading the word for a specific musician whose work they find meritorious.  For, instance:

- Artists (for posters, album art, Merch etc.)

- Live Sound Systems and Soundmen (and women)

- Video services

- Promoters

- Labels

- Enthusiastic Fans (some of whom might be interested to help promote)

SUPPORT / FEEDBACK / APPRECIATION …I would suggest that the one prerequisite for being a member in this Union (besides being an active, working musician) would be a stated intent to listen to as much music from fellow Vermont artists as possible and to lend support to those Musicians whose work you appreciate.   It seems logical that we should all try to actively support each other voluntarily …without obligation.

CONTRACT FOR SERVICES…  Normally, a Labor Union is primarily concerned with negotiating fair rates between employee and employer.  However, in our case, I’m not sure that an organization is required for this or that we need to make it a formal process, since Vermont venue owners and promoters seem to treat musicians fairly, in general, given the very difficult climate for the live music business.

The one area where a union could be potentially valuable in this regard is the creation of one very simple, standard contract (which could be e-mailed) that we could all use when booking a gig.  This would not be done for legal purposes ….certainly we don’t want to be initiating lawsuits …but rather as a way to make sure that everybody knows what has been agreed upon in advance.   One important issue to clarify up front is whether payment is guaranteed or contingent upon factors such as attendance, ticket sales,  bar sales, etc..  In cases where the venue provides a guarantee, they should be expected to honor this regardless of the success / failure of the gig as long as the musician(s) execute their end of the bargain.

Although most owners / promoters are very fair folks, and an asset to the local music scene, there are a few bad apples that should be identified and weeded out.  A certain reggae promoter comes to mind, who continually defaults on payment obligations, advertises artists that don’t show up etc.  As a result, the whole reggae community suffers.  So the stated aim of this process is to clarify what is agreed to and to make sure that everybody complies….those who don’t should be identified and alienated.

So that is a beginning.  Anyone have ideas to add?  Comments?  Criticisms? Questions?

One love,

Dan Murphy of Dubnotix 

 

Curious.  How do they handle this in Branson, or in Nashvile? 

sunsetcliff 277 days ago


Good question, thanks!  I just poked around the big Nashville union website at www.nashvillemusicians.org.  While, intuitively, the needs of an industry musician working in Nashville would be slighly different than those of a Vermont musician, there are some good ideas here (insurance for instruments, or whatever else needs insuring, is another thing that could be offered in bulk, for instance)   One subject I clearly missed above (and am amending here) :

WEBSITE / INTERNET PRESENCE:  The union would logically benefit from a strong internet presence with the following features:

- Member Directory

- Gig / Job listings

- Advertisements for service ...repair, lessons, events etc.

- Calendar of upcoming member shows

- Subject forums / message boards

 

DiB 277 days ago

On the one hand-  you do not want to re-invent the wheel- on the other hand- one size does not fit all.   So as you say  VT needs-  will vary from that of Nashville.  ####/www.nashvillemusicians.org/?pg=do_not_work_for   I see alot of places on the do not work for page.  Interesting.  I am not a musician- so I don't know what your needs/concerns are.  

sunsetcliff 277 days ago

There is one listed in the Burlington / Middlebury area phone book called Vermont Musicians Association Local 351.  Not familiar with them or what they are about.  Do they not address your concerns above?  Their phone number is 802.865.5122.

cwac 272 days ago

Had no idea about the Local 351, and it hadn't come up in discussion in the muscians forum.  Thanks for the info.  Regarding concerns etc, the AFM (of which Local 351 seems to be a chapter) is more focused on "industry" issues while it seems like most Vermont musicians are trying to figure out how to make any money at the local level ...but useful to know that this exists.

 

 

DiB 272 days ago



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