The American Federation of Musicians (AFM) is effectively preventing as much as $25 million in royalties due musicians and background singers from being distributed allege Kobalt, Wixen, Sony and a growing group of organizations tasked with collecting royalties.
Founded and run by the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) and television and radio performers union SAG-AFTRA, the fund was designed to collect and pay royalties for background singers and non-featured session musicians for music featured in film and television in foreign markets, as well as, some performances by symphony, opera and ballet musicians and vocalists.
The unpaid funds allegedly stem from a flawed identification process by the AFM and the fund as to who should be paid for each recording.
“The actions of the AFM – the fact that they refuse to allow performers and estates to change their mandates, even erroneous mandates for non-members on the IPD – would be illegal in the European Union under the recent EU directives," according to a letter from a consortium of music publishers to international music trade group SCAPR, obtained by MBW. “Unfortunately, the only people who are suffering are the musicians who are prevented from collecting international income because of this.”
A related fund,The Film Musicians Secondary Market Fund, which was formed by the AFM and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP), collected $100 million in residual payments due musicians in 2017. It is sitting on at least $5 million in unpaid funds. Some rather famous musicians have unpaid royalties there including Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Elton John, Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Axl Rose, Tony Bennett, Cyndi Lauper, according to a Deadline analysis of public records.
To see if you are due money from The Film Musicians Secondary Market Fund, search here.