Welcome to the nineteenth instalment of Monday #MusicMatters as part of the JAMS Canada PRO Series – “Here’s What I Know”.
We caught up with Sue Moore of the Kingston Musicians’ Union, Local 518
What are the benefits for musicians to join the Musicians Union?
The Canadian Federation of Musicians (CFM) is the Canadian National office of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM). The CFM provides vital resources to Canadian musicians at all stages of their careers, on any platform, from live concert to recorded performance, theatre, traditional and digital broadcast and film scoring. The American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM) is comprised of 200 local offices across the United States and Canada, collectively representing a membership of approximately 80,000 professional musicians, 17,000 of whom are Canadian. The AFM/CFM has been representing the interests of U.S. and Canadian musicians for 125 years, as the representative of professional musicians in a broad range of collective bargaining and legislative actions.
We are not a service industry, however being part of this organization, you have access to exclusive member services. For example: discounted rates on instrument insurance and liability; home and auto insurance; a pension fund that is tailored to the needs of the musician; assistance in immigration (visas for work in the US); access to special payments recording funds collected by the AFM; a referral service; discounts and savings on theme parks and attractions; hotels and car rentals; discounts on electronics (Brother, Dell, JBL, LG); plus the advantage of being able to get help from any of our 200 Local office if you are stranded or in need of assistance.
What are some success stories?
We have many high-profile musicians in our Local, The Tragically Hip is probably the most well-known. But we also have musicians like Serena Rider who are Juno recipients, The Leahy’s and the many family groups that are related to this original group of Leahy’s. Many of our young bands are receiving good reviews e.g. Lost Cousins, The Wilderness, Pony, just to mention a few. The one thing that all these musicians have in common is that they have all worked hard long hours to build their successes.
What are the fees to join and how are they used? Are there additional fees per gig?
It’s $184 per year. Normally when you join there are initiation fees that go to the AFM and Local in administration fees. These cost $95 in total. Until September 30th we have a membership drive so the initiation fees are being waived. It’s a good time to join as there are no joining fees just the yearly membership.
How each member fees are used:
$66 of your membership is paid to the AFM as annual per capita to help fund the AFM offices and costs.
$118 is used by the Local to run the office, and support community projects that provide work for our musicians.
We cannot sustain our office on membership alone, so we rely on members paying work dues on filed contracts. Unfortunately, not many members realize the importance of these work dues to the sustaining of office business expenses and so their contributions are minimal. However, for the members that do contribute this is an important part of our budget as it helps us maintain an active Local and any excess work dues go back to our musicians through the projects that are funded or supported by sponsorship or the Music Performance Trust Fund. Some of the work dues are sent to the AFM for their contributions to our Local.
What are some of the best resources that musicians can tap into for assistance during this pandemic?
Most of our musicians are on CERB. The Music performance Trust Fund is sponsoring musicians up to 100% for live and streamed concerts in communities free to the public. The CFM is also lobbying the government once again for the extension of CERB at least until musicians can work freely in the entertainment sector.
How has COVID-19 affected KMU?
Our membership is down, and I have to say we are struggling like anyone else in this sector. Our membership represents about 20% of the population of working professional musicians in the area. If we do not survive this, it will be a great loss to our communities. KMU has contributed to our community for 100 years and through the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF), in the last 50 years, tens of thousands of dollars have been funnelled into the city festivals, our Local senior homes, schools, and hospitals. We have helped organizations to collectively bargain agreements with their employers giving them fair wages for their time and expertise and over the last 4 years KMU has contributed $30,000 on average each year through MPTF to our Local communities.
Since 2013, the minimum wage per hour for all musicians contracted through our office has doubled with a minimum of 2 or 3 hours paid on most gigs with pension. We have generated work for 100’s of musicians (union and non-union) and improved working conditions. Sometimes I wonder what we could do (achieving the things that our Local achieves with such a small representation), if all musicians that are benefiting were to become members. Now, those who are not members take out a temporary membership which is not a sustainable model and does not give the musician full representation. Having a Local office in Kingston to represent Musicians interests is crucial.
Over the last 4 months I have been on many focus groups for the ARTS and it has become very evident that free-lance musicians are severely underrepresented. Our needs are very different to artists, we rely on our live audiences and venues for work and loosing these performance opportunities has devastated our sector. We are not out of work because we want to be. We are hungry to return. If musicians care about being fairly represented in these uncertain times then joining the union in solidarity with other brothers and sisters of like minds is the answer. We cannot do this alone we need the support of all musicians in our Local area.
Sue’s ‘Can do’ attitude, following analysis of needs, resources, and methodology for getting the job done has proven to be a valuable asset for the completion of projects that she has undertaken. She is an accomplished musician, arranger and composer having studied on two continents in music education, performance, theory, and composition.
She has been an advocate for Canadian new music projects for many years where, having been awarded a performance prize at a Contemporary Showcase London, she became involved as coordinator for the Showcase in both London Ontario and then Kingston for one year. As a facilitator she has years of experience and was part of the team that formed Kingston’s Community Orchestra: “Orchestra Kingston”, responsible for coordinating Composer in the Classroom and Opera in the Classroom in 2008, 2010 and 2011, Listen Up in 2015, Musica Viva Kingston 2018, and 2020 and currently holds the position of Secretary/Treasurer to the Kingston Musicians’ Union.
Sue is also an adjunct teacher for the “Partnership in Music Programme” with the Limestone District School Board, performs regularly in professional ensembles in which she is both a performer, composer, and arranger.
Find out more on their website Kingston Musicians Union website , on Facebook page @kingstonmusicians and on Twitter @MusicKingston
Look for more JAMS Canada PRO Series “Here’s What I Know” Monday #MusicMatters here on our website and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linked In.
Some contributors also responded with videos – please subscribe to our JAMS Canada YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-CmaB7MV0r1ehhveBPmBEg