More than 75 musicians joined together in front of the Ed Sullivan Theater to call out CBS and the other television networks as musicians escalated efforts to secure a fair contract, gain wage increases, broader health care coverage, and secure residuals for streaming usage. The rally was supported by New Yorkers from a wide array of labor entertainment unions and included words by Congressman Jerry Nadler, State Senator Brad Hoylman, NYC Councilmember Keith Powers, NYC Councilmember Helen Rosenthal, NYC Central Labor Council President Vincent Alvarez, and AFM Local 802 President Adam Krauthamer.
“Late night would not be the same without the musicians,” stated NYS Senator Brad Hoylman. “CBS, you have a black eye. It’s time to give the talent [musicians] the pay, the health care they deserve. It’s time to update the contract — a contract that seems to have been written when Ed Sullivan was the host.”
After years of attempts to achieve balance and fairness in the broadcast television industry, a majority of the house band musicians (members of the American Federation of Musicians) have signed an “Open Letter to the Networks” calling on ABC, CBS, NBC to create true pay parity for the musicians and dismantle the structural racism that still runs rampant in the television industry.
“The networks — CBS, NBC, and ABC — recognize that our music elevates the quality of their shows, and they are more than happy to use our sound and images to enhance the brand of everything they do,” said Jon Lampley (trumpet), Stay Human house band, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. “So often we are celebrated for bringing diversity to the screens that we grace–both with our faces, and with our music. Yet behind the scenes we are being told that our contributions aren’t worthy of a fair deal. The networks rejoice when we, the musicians, can add ‘culture’ to these shows that are written and hosted predominately by white men, but off camera they’re unwilling to grant us the economic parity that we rightfully deserve.”
While streaming residuals are granted to actors, singers, writers and others in the industry, the musicians performing on the same shows receive no residual payment for music that is being monetized and featured on streaming platforms, significantly lowering musicians’ overall pay.
The #RespectUs rally continued with a musical march down Broadway concluding in front of the ABC Studio in Times Square.
American Federation of Musicians members from Los Angeles to New York continue to strengthen a national member-led campaign as negotiations resume this week.