In the late 1950s the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) and some of its Los Angeles members became entangled in a series of ongoing disputes over the lack of adequate representation of full-time recording musicians. At the heart of these disputes was the AFM's costly and cumbersome musician payment structure. While this system generated significant revenue for the Union, very little of it made its way to the musicians. Far worse, this practice made it prohibitive for the majority of producers to utilize union musicians. As a result, studio musicians in Los Angeles left the AFM and formed their own union, The Musician's Guild of America.
In 1964, due to the changing political climate within the AFM as well as the difficulties the Musician's Guild was experiencing, the Guild agreed to dissolve and re-affiliate with the AFM. Union leaders agreed to sweeping changes and a more enlightened approach to contract negotiation. It was in this spirit that the AFM, representing musicians working in television and motion pictures, and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) sat down to negotiate a new motion picture contract and television film agreement. These talks resulted in a collective bargaining agreement that allowed producers to hold the line on their up-front costs while providing an overall compensation package commensurate with musicians' participation on a production-by-production basis. Ultimately, this led to the establishment of the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund (f.k.a. the Theatrical and Television Motion Picture Special Payments Fund) (Fund) in 1972.
Each July, the Fund makes an annual distribution of contributions received throughout its fiscal year, which runs from April 1 of the prior year through March 31 of the current year. Participating musicians are sent a package which contains their annual disbursement check as well as their itemized member's statement, a movie master list, an inquiry form and a postage-paid envelope. In addition, the Fund services musicians throughout the year, allocating and tracking contributions, researching and allocating newly paid films, resolving outstanding inquiries, as well as dealing with address changes, beneficiary information, check reissue requests, deaths, divorces, levies/liens, tax withholdings and the like.
The Fund's website www.fmsmf.org provides more information about Fund operations. The public area of the website includes: information about the Fund, film titles with obligations to the Fund, film titles which have had contributions to the Fund made on their behalf, frequently asked questions about the Fund, Fund policies and a links section providing website information for related organizations.
The Fund's quarterly newsletter provides articles about the Fund and the entertainment industry. Find out about services offered by the Fund, get a history lesson or gain the perspective of the Fund administrator by reading this informative newsletter edited and written by Fund staff.
The Private Area of our website is a convenient and secure way to review statements, update an address or a beneficiary, review your tax statements, print a tax form, and/or sign up for or update direct deposit information. This area requires prior registration. The process is easy…just register electronically on the website, print, sign and mail to the Fund the online access agreement. When the Fund receives your signed online access agreement, we will send you your personal identification number (PIN). Once you have your PIN you can change it to something you will easily remember. You will then be able to perform all transactions online.
To be defined as a "covered" motion picture, the following conditions must be met:
- Motion pictures and television films must have at least one original scoring session, or utilize sideline musicians, pursuant to the AFM Basic Theatrical Motion Picture or Basic Television Film Labor Agreements.
- Sessions must be done for a signatory employer (i.e. a producer or company who is signed to the AFM labor agreements or a non-signatory producer using a signatory payroll company with an assumption agreement).
- A theatrical production (i.e. a film initially released to theaters) must have commenced principal photography after January 31, 1960.
- A television film or series (i.e. initially released to television) must have been produced after July 1, 1971.
Producers or other "rightsholders" make payments to the Fund equal to one percent (1%) of their gross receipts from the release of covered films into a supplemental market(s). These obligations last for the life of the motion picture, and remain with the production regardless of how many times the ownership and/or distribution rights are transferred. "Supplemental markets" are defined and indicated in blue as follows:
Any musician who is listed on an original recording session contract filed through the AFM for a covered theatrical motion picture or television film is eligible for special payments provided any of the following circumstances apply:
Any musician (including leaders, conductors and contractors) employed by a signatory employer/producer to record music utilized in a covered motion picture.
Any sideline musician (musician photographed playing an instrument on camera) employed by a signatory employer/producer whose performance is utilized in a covered motion picture.
Any music preparation musician (including orchestrators, copyists and librarians) provided that there was at least one original AFM scoring session or sideline session for the specific film they worked on.
who receives a "new-use
" payment for the inclusion of a pre-existing phonograph recording as part of the music score for a covered film. Eligibility for new-use payment requires:
- The film using this music must have been produced after January 1, 1991.
- Songs used must have been recorded in the U.S. or Canada under the auspices of the AFM.
- Original recording session(s) filed on a phonograph recording contract (B4) with the appropriate AFM local, or acknowledged documentation.
- The participating musician must have been paid for the new-use through the AFM.
Identifying Who Participated in a Film
In order to determine the participants of a film, the Fund relies primarily on obtaining AFM B7 contracts and studio orchestra manager reports from various sources, including AFM locals where the sessions are done, the Federation, contractors and the studios themselves. Over the years, the Fund has compiled a vast library of resources to assist the staff in researching musicians who have worked on a film. However, we still rely on the participating musicians themselves to assist in obtaining the most complete information available.
Musician Film Inquiries
Each inquiry received is entered, assigned a log number and maintained on our custom-designed database. A letter of acknowledgment is then sent to the inquiring musician. Inquiries are processed in chronological order, based on date of receipt. It is possible that a claim may be processed early due to another musician's prior inquiry about the same film. When a log number is reached, research is begun in an attempt to verify the claim. To expedite research and the processing of claims, we encourage musicians to supply us with documentation or information such as: copies of contracts, paychecks or pay stubs, dates and/or locations of the original recording sessions, etc. The Fund may request such items when they are needed. Further, it is not necessary to re-submit an inquiry concerning a film after the initial inquiry submission. Once a claim is verified, credit is given for prospective payment(s) for the respective film(s), as well as appropriate retroactive payment(s).
The Fund has a research department and paralegal on staff to research, track and handle a variety of general inquiries for musicians. According to the nature of the requests, the Fund updates and maintains a database that tracks changes and files the requests. We encourage musicians to supply us with up-to-date information, as their participation is instrumental in helping us provide the highest level of service possible.
Employer Compliance and Collections
The Fund has a compliance department that continuously tracks released films. The department actively pursues collection efforts if it appears that an obligation exists and that contributions should be forthcoming. In addition, this department does follow-up on employers who have ceased payments on certain films. They also ensure that scheduled compliance audits of the various contributors are conducted regularly.
The Policies below have been abbreviated to accommodate this publication. For a copy of the complete and most current policies, please contact the Fund or visit: www.fmsmf.org
Operations policies directly affecting the musicians include:
Musician/Beneficiary Payments (Revised 9/5/2003)
Effective January 1, 2000, this policy will amend Exhibit "A" 2. (a) third paragraph at page 90, of the '96-'99 Basic Theatrical Motion Picture Agreement, as follows:
"In the event of the death of a musician entitled to a payment hereunder, the Administrator shall distribute such payment to the beneficiary or beneficiaries designated by such musician or alternate beneficiary (in the event the beneficiary pre-deceased the musician) on a form provided by the Administrator for such purpose. If, however, no such beneficiary is so designated, the payment shall be made to the beneficiary designated by such musician pursuant to the American Federation of Musicians and Employer's Pension Fund; and if no beneficiary be so designated, then to the surviving spouse of such musician; and if there be no such person, to the beneficiary of the musician's estate."
In addition, a beneficiary of a musician or alternate beneficiary (in the event the beneficiary pre-deceased the musician) may select a beneficiary or beneficiaries (aka: the "BOB"), and if no beneficiary be so designated, then to the surviving spouse of such beneficiary; and if there be no such person, to the beneficiary of the beneficiary's estate. However, the Fund will cease to make any further payments upon the death of all such beneficiaries of beneficiaries.
Credit for Full and Partial Film Omissions - Prospective & Retroactive Payments
Effective November 10, 1999, all musicians who are discovered to have been omitted from a covered film, partially, in full, or for whatever reason, and whose omission has been verified, will be credited prospectively. Retroactive checks will be issued for the period inclusive of the date of the first contribution on behalf of the film in question, from 1989 forward, through the date of processing. This policy applies to films from all the studios, production companies and payroll companies utilizing musicians under the auspices of the American Federation of Musicians and for which the first contribution was received by the Special Payments Fund during and after the year 1989.
Musicians who were omitted for work done on films for which contributions were received prior to 1989 will be covered when an inquiry is received and verified. These musicians will be credited prospectively, and retroactive checks will be issued which cover the period between the date of receipt of the first contribution, but no earlier than 1989, through the date of processing only.
If contracts are located for films for which the Fund has received no musician inquiries, omitted musicians will be credited prospectively. Retroactive checks will be issued which cover the period between the date of receipt of the first contribution, but no earlier than 1989, through the date of processing only.
Full and/or partial wage omissions will be processed similarly, without distinction between them. The same policy and system(s) will be utilized in the treatment of both. Retroactive payments for both will be drawn from the same combined reserve fund.
Exceptions to these policies will be handled on an individual, case-by-case basis, with the Fund Administrator making the final decision.
Participating Musician for New-Use - Addendum to Side-Letter Agreement
Effective July 5, 2001, the Fund will expand slightly the application of "Participating Musicians" resulting from the inclusion of phonograph records in covered motion pictures and television films. Specifically, this policy will amend the second and third sentences in the first paragraph of the May 13, 1992, Side-Letter Agreement (at page 100 of the '96-'99 Basic Theatrical Motion Picture Agreement and page 95 of the '96-'99 Basic Television Motion Picture Agreement) regarding "Participating Musicians" as follows:
"It is understood that the Special Payments Fund may distribute the payments provided under Articles 15 and 16 of the Theatrical Agreement and under Article 14 of the Television Agreement to "participating musicians," as defined in those Articles, and to musicians entitled to receive (formally worded: "who received") live session payments under Article 8B. Any musician entitled to receive (formally worded: "who received") live session payments under Article 8B. shall participate on the distribution of such monies on the same basis as if he/she were considered a "participating musician."
This change-while necessary to enable the Fund to include numerous phonograph musicians for participation in SPF payments who unequivocally performed on records utilized in motion pictures, but were not actually paid for such performances-will have absolutely no financial impact on the Producers.
The policy is not intended to create any additional obligation for payment on the part of the Producer, but merely to secure the appropriate participation in the Fund for the affected musicians.
Direct Deposit Policy
Effective June 19, 2001, irrespective of the permission granted in the Direct Deposit enrollment form that authorizes the Fund to debit a Participating Musician's or Beneficiary's account, in the event of an erroneous deposit into his/her account1, it is the policy of the Fund that no such debit(s) shall be taken without prior notification via certified mail to the Participating Musician or Beneficiary at the Participating Musician's or Beneficiary's address of record with the Fund. In addition, the Fund shall provide such Participating Musician/Beneficiary the opportunity to provide the Fund with a reason in writing why such debit should not be taken, and to request a reconsideration of the debit. The request for a reconsideration-which must be accompanied by the written reason(s) for such reconsideration-must be submitted via certified mail to the Fund Administrator, Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund, 12001 Ventura Place, 5th Floor, Studio City, CA 91604, and postmarked within two (2) business days from the date of the receipt of the notice from the Fund of the erroneous deposit. The Fund Administrator shall review Participant's request and make final determination as to the validity of the claim.
If the Fund Administrator rejects the Participant's request or no request is made, overpayments shall generally be deducted from the Participating Musician's/Beneficiary's disbursal subsequent to the disbursal in which the overpayment was made. In the unlikely event that it should be necessary to debit the Participating Musician's/Beneficiary's account, final notice shall be given, via certified mail, to the Participating Musician or Beneficiary at the Fund's address of record for the Participating Musician or Beneficiary at least two days prior to executing the debit.
1"In the event that the Fund deposits funds erroneously into my account, I authorize the Fund to debit my account for an amount not to exceed the original amount of the erroneous credit."
Participant Replacement Check - January Moratorium
Effective January 2006, no replacement checks will be issued during the month of January. This policy supercedes the prior 2001 "Participant Replacement Check December Moratorium" policy.This change is being implemented after having reviewed the latest trend involving the in-flux of check requisitions, changes in the processing of data, and scheduling of work between the Payroll and Tax reporting due dates. Most likely the last check batch to be processed ( for this calendar year 2008 ) for all requests received up through November 9th will be in Early-December, ( e.g. Dec. 6, 2008 check date ). Replacement check processing will resume again in February of the following calendar year. Any exception to this policy will be at the sole discretion of the Fund Administrator.
Check Re-Issue Requests (7 Years or Older) Policy
Effective date: July 1, 2002. For information regarding this policy, please contact the Fund's Research Department.
DIVORCES - Please contact Karen Tucker, Fund Paralegal, at: (818) 755-7777 ext. 806, or firstname.lastname@example.org before you prepare your final settlement.
Why haven't some of the films I worked on ever paid into the Fund?
A film must generate some income or revenue in a supplemental market to trigger an obligation on the part of the producer or other rightsholder of the film to contribute to the Fund on the film's behalf. If you do not see a film listed on the master list, it means that the film did not have a contribution made to the Fund on its behalf during the preceding fiscal year (April 1 to March 31). It may still generate contributions for subsequent years.
Do composers and vocalists also receive payments from the Fund?
The Fund collects and distributes residuals for session musicians and music preparation personnel working on film and/or television productions, or in some cases other musicians whose prior recorded product has been utilized in a motion picture or television film. The Fund does not cover composers, except to the extent they do "bargaining unit work" such as conducting, orchestrating, etc. This is also true in the case of vocalists. Composers may be covered under ASCAP, BMI or SESAC. Vocalists may be covered under AFTRA or SAG.
I worked on several phonograph recordings that were utilized in films but I'm not sure if I have been properly credited. How does this process work?
Initially, to receive credit for Fund payments as a result of a "new-use," there must be an AFM phonograph session contract (B4) filed with the appropriate local. The B4 should list the title(s) of any songs recorded during the session, along with the names, social security numbers and wages of all the participants. A motion picture scoring session contract (B7) is then created by the AFM. This contract acknowledges the usage of a particular song in the film and provides the Fund with the appropriate wage information. This B7 becomes the basis for properly crediting the participating musicians by the Fund. In the absence of the B7, the Fund must be able to acquire copies of the original B4's as they are essential for crediting the participating musicians.
Can I use my U.S. federal tax I.D. number and have my Fund checks made payable to my corporation?
No. The collective bargaining agreement and the IRS mandate that payments be treated as wages. As such, taxes must be taken out despite the fact that original session payments were made to your corporation.
Can I have my checks deposited to my account by direct deposit?
Yes. We will arrange for direct deposit to your account. Contact the Fund for details.
Why didn't I receive a check for a film I worked on, even though the title appears on the master list?
You may have been omitted from the reporting, or the total check amount was de minimus (i.e. your total check was less than $10.00), or the contribution for the film resulted in a pro-rata share less than one cent.
Is the income from my annual distribution check considered “wages”?
Yes. Payments made from the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund to our participants represent deferred wage payments – or residual payments – for services performed as a musician in previous years for one or more employers. These payments are made on behalf of those employers. While the Fund is the withholding agent for the employer, it is not and has never been the direct employer of any of our participants.
Will I need to report the income from my check to federal and state agencies, i.e, EDD or state disability insurance?
Yes. All residual payments received from the Fund are subject to reporting as earned income and you will need to report your deferred wage payments to all appropriate agencies, including those that administer unemployment and disability insurance.
Can these payments be garnished or attached for child support, tax liens, etc?
Yes. As wages these payments are subject to garnishment for tax liens, child support payments, and other applicable obligations by authorized agencies.