Providing service and support to film and television musicians.

Musician's Overview

How the Fund Began

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 payment structures for musicians working in film and television. By the 1960s the combined Union leadership agreed to a new approach to contract negotiations. It was in this spirit that the AFM, representing musicians working in theatrical and television motion pictures, and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) met and negotiated new collective bargaining agreements that helped producers hold the line on their up-front costs, while at the same time provided an overall compensation package to musicians commensurate with their contributions to, and participation in, individual productions. This new structure led to the establishment of the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund in 1972 (f/k/a the Theatrical and Television Motion Picture Special Payments Fund).

How the Fund Operates

The Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund ("FMSMF" or "Fund") serves to collect, process and distribute secondary market residual payments and act as third party administrator on behalf of the producers for purposes of paying residuals. Secondary Market residuals generally follow the entertainment industry's standard pattern for "supplemental market" residuals as found in the other entertainment industry union/guild contracts, except that the AFM percentages differ from those of other union/guilds and the FMSMF handles all the administrative work and details for distributing payments to musicians.

The FMSMF collects residuals derived only from "secondary market" distribution of motion pictures. Residuals paid to the FMSMF do not include any revenue from any primary markets:

  1. No Domestic Box Office
  2. No Foreign Box Office

Residuals payable to the FMSMF are triggered only if a picture generates revenue in one or more of the secondary markets:

Primary Markets Secondary Markets
Theatrical Film DVD/Home Video, Pay TV, Free TV (including Basic Cable), New Media
TV Film or Series DVD/Home Video, Pay TV, In-Flight, New Media
Direct to Video Free TV (including Basic Cable)
Direct to Pay TV Free TV (including Basic Cable)
New Media DVD/Home Video, Pay TV, In-Flight, some New Media

Films initially produced for the home-video market (i.e., DVD, pay-TV) make no payment for DVD or pay TV sales.

The contribution formula is generally 1% of the Producer's Gross directly received from the applicable secondary market(s), minus certain allowed deductions as described in the Guide to Understanding Secondary Markets Residuals.

Each July, the Fund makes an annual distribution of contributions received throughout the preceding fiscal year, which runs from April 1 of the prior year through March 31 of the current year, to participating musicians. Participating musicians are sent a package which contains their annual disbursement check as well as their itemized member's statement. Participating musicians who have taken advantage of the Fund's Go-Paperless option receive payment by direct deposit and receive all information and updates electronically. In addition, the Fund serves musicians and their beneficiaries 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.

Which Theatrical and Television Films Make Secondary Markets Payments

A "covered" motion picture must meet the following conditions:

  • 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; and
  • Sessions must be done for a signatory employer (i.e., a producer or company signed directly to the AFM labor agreements or a non-signatory producer using a signatory payroll company with an assumption agreement); and is either
  • A theatrical motion picture (i.e., a film initially released to theaters) that commenced principal photography on or after January 31, 1960; or
  • A television film or series (i.e., initially released to television) that commenced principal photography on or after July 1, 1971; or
  • A film or program made for initial release on "new media" (e.g., downloads, web streaming, subscription services, etc.,) that was produced on or after April 14, 2010.

Definition of "Participating Musician"

Any musician who is listed on an original recording session contract filed through the AFM for a covered theatrical or TV motion picture is eligible for secondary markets payments if they fall into one of these categories:

  • Musicians (including leaders, conductors and contractors) employed by a signatory employer/producer to record music that is used in the covered motion picture.
  • Sideline musicians (musician photographed playing an instrument on camera) employed by a signatory employer/producer whose performance is used in the covered motion picture.
  • Music preparation musicians (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.
  • Musicians entitled to a "new-use" payment for the inclusion of a pre-existing sound recording used in the music score of a covered film. Eligibility for secondary market participation for such "new-use" requires:
    • The film using this music must have been produced after January 1, 1991.
    • The sound recording was made in the U.S. or Canada under an AFM contract.
    • The original recording session(s) were filed on an AFM sound recording contract (B4) and filed with the appropriate AFM local, or acknowledged documentation.
    • The participating musician was entitled to a new-use payment, even if the new-use payment was not actually paid.

How the Fund Identifies Musicians Who Participated in Films

In order to determine the participating musicians for a given film, the Fund relies primarily on obtaining AFM B7 contracts and studio orchestra manager reports from various sources, including AFM locals, 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.

How Musician Film Inquiries Are Handled

Each inquiry received is entered, assigned a log number and maintained on our custom-designed database. A letter or email 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. 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).

General Inquiries

The Fund has a professional and experienced staff to research, track and answer a variety of general inquiries for musicians. Based on the nature of the requests, the Fund updates and maintains a database that tracks changes and files the requests. Fund staff can best assist musicians when you provide us with up-to-date information such as address changes, email contact information, beneficiary changes and copies of documentation about films where there is a question. We appreciate your help in assisting us in providing the highest level of service possible.

How the Fund Tracks and Collects Payments

The Fund has a Compliance Department that continuously tracks released theatrical and TV films. The Department actively monitors, and pursues collection efforts if necessary, for payments that should be forthcoming. The Department also oversees the regularly scheduled compliance audits of the various contributors conducted by outside auditors engaged by the Fund.

Fund Policies

For the complete and most current list of policies, please visit: Our Policies.