Fun Fact: ABC Doesn’t Pay Musicians on Youtube or

Major networks like ABC and NBC won’t pay TV musicians for re-broadcast on their own websites — or even YouTube.  WTF?

According to several late-night TV musicians, broadcasters like ABC won’t pay band members for appearances on network websites or YouTube.  Now, they’re taking action to fix the problem.

Yesterday, members of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) Local 802, handed out leaflets outside 30 Rockefeller Plaza.  They also protested in front of the Ed Sullivan Theater where ‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’ is taped.

In Los Angeles, AFM Local 47 members handed leaflets outside ‘The Late Late Show With James Corden.’

Speaking with Variety about the protests, Cleto Escobedo III, Musical Director of Cleto and the Cletones, said,

“Other performers are all paid when ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’ streams on YouTube or other online outlets, yet musicians are paid nothing.  Musicians just want to be compensated for our likeness and our music.  I love Jimmy, the producers, and everyone we work with.  We just need to make sure the networks treat us and ALL of our colleagues fairly.”

For the past 18 months, the AFM has been negotiating a new contract with major networks for “work done on live or recorded television programs initially aired over a broadcast network or in syndication.”  This includes variety shows, game shows, sports broadcasts, award shows, and morning shows.

The last round of negotiations took place in August.  The next session will take place on December 11th.  The previous contract expired in February 2016.

Emphasizing the importance of their work on these shows, Ray Chew explained,

“The music that you hear and watch on YouTube and streaming systems is handmade with the sweat and expertise of music makers who dedicate their lives for the enrichment of others.  To take this without equitable compensation is demoralizing and wrong.  We are only seeking what is right and fair for our livelihoods and our families.”

Chew works as the Music Director of “Dancing with the Stars” and “Showtime at the Apollo.”

The AFM said that shows on network websites “are supported by advertising.”  Yet, TV musicians and artists haven’t received a dime.

“Other performers receive residuals when live television shows stream.  But musicians do not receive residuals for this type of work.”

According to the union, the live TV contract covers:

The American Music Awards

The Academy of Country Music Awards

Good Morning America

The Country Music Awards

The Emmys

Golden Globes

The Grammy Awards


The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

The Late Late Show With James Corden

Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Late Night with Seth Meyers

The Oscars

The Today Show

Live with Kelly and Ryan

The View

The Voice

People’s Choice Awards

Saturday Night Live

The Today Show

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Saturday Night Live

Using the hashtag #RespectTheBand, union supports and their supporters have publicized the issue on social media.


Featured image by Eden Shizzle (Twitter)

2 Responses

  1. Jason

    For a perfect example of this, watch this clip from the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. NBC pays Fallon, the writers, and directors, a share of the ad revenue from this YouTube clip. The musicians who are all over this video playing whatever Fallon requests get nothing.