SAG-AFTRA Reaches a Streaming Royalty Deal with UMG, WMG, and Sony Music

With the rise of streaming music, SAG-AFTRA wants to make sure its members get paid.

SAG-AFTRA has reached a tentative agreement with major labels following months of negotiations.  The three-year agreement is a successor contract to the existing SAG-AFTRA National Code of Fair Practice for Sound Recordings.

Both parties reached an agreement on Thursday after two days of bargaining in New Orleans.  Negotiations first started in April 2018 in Los Angeles, three months after the current deal expired.  They then continued for two more sessions over the summer in New York.

The SAG-AFTRA Sound Recordings Code covers sound recordings on digital, CDs, vinyl.  It also includes all music formats as well as audiobooks, cast albums, and any other sound recordings utilizing vocal performances.  The Code covers singers, announcers, actors, comedians, narrators, and sound effects artists.  It also applies to artists who work at scale and overscale, and appear as royalty and non-royalty artists.

Several artists may qualify as royalty artists for their own recordings, but could appear as non-royalty artists on others’ recordings.

The Sound Recordings Code has existed since the early 1950s.

Highlights of the new contract include annual minimum wage increases and increased contributions to health and retirement plans.  The latter includes ‘significantly increased’ contributions on payments from online streaming music services.  The new contract also includes other improvements in economic terms.  SAG-AFTRA didn’t provide any details.

Speaking on the new deal, Gabrielle Carteris, President of SAG-AFTRA, said,

This contract achieves important gains for our members in key areas, especially and including our health and retirement plans.  I’m proud of our dedicated negotiating committee, and especially its chair, National VP Recording Artists/Singers Dan Navarro, for their excellent work.

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel, explained streaming had become a top priority in negotiations.

Streaming is the future of music and our negotiating committee has recognized that and made it a top priority for the last several cycles.  That focus has shown results and will work to the benefit of our members for years to come.

SAG-AFTRA’s National Board received the tentative agreement this weekend.  The union hasn’t yet confirmed whether its board approved the new deal.

The new agreement is retroactive effective Jan. 1, 2018 and expires Dec. 31, 2020.  Major record labels covered by the agreement include Warner Bros. Records, Atlantic Recording Corporation, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group Recordings, Capitol Records, and Hollywood Records (Disney).  That’s essentially the ‘big three’ of UMG, WMG, and Sony Music Entertainment.

As with the old deal, the new agreement covers session singers, royalty artists, announcers, actors, comedians, narrators, and sound effects artists for recordings in all new and traditional media and all music formats, along with audiobooks, comedy albums, and cast albums.


Featured image by SAG-AFTRA.