Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 11

Thread: Thoughts On Joining A Musicians Union

  1. #1
    Super Moderator die Bullen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Westfield, NJ
    Age
    47
    Posts
    24,510

    Thoughts On Joining A Musicians Union

    Thanks to DW for suggesting this topic- initially the question was raised as to whether my son should join a union so I will answer that one first but this thread is open for general discussion around what you feel about joining the musician's union.

    In my son's case I don't see that the union would help him in any way, in fact it could hurt him. I act as his manager/ agent and book his gigs and handle invoices; all money goes through me and I am on site ensuring that conditions are right when he is playing. So the case for the union providing protection from employers doesn't really hold up.

    If I were to make his band unionized, I would have to then require that the sidemen are also union, which would cost them $150+ a year. So either I'd have to force the members to pay that or I would have to pay it myself. This would seriously limit my ability to get emergency sidemen for gigs too. Plus unionizing would probably mean we'd have to enforce a minimum per man fee that might make it impossible for us to get hired into certain venues.

    Although a lot could change in the years that follow, I do not see him becoming an orchestra pit musician- they have the strongest reason to join a union. They need guaranteed breaks and enforcement of minimum wages because they have an employer other than themselves.

    Any thoughts? Are any of you rock players in a music union?

  2. #2
    Axe-honerated zontar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    In a people house
    Posts
    24,620
    I've never joined the musician's union as I never needed to--but I did check on it, in case it was going to be a benefit.
    But no band I was part of ever got close to needing it.

    I also checked when I taught--but as I taught for a music school, and the number of students varied--it wouldn't have made sense.

    It doesn't sound like it makes sense for your son--but who knows, maybe one day it will.
    I've been a pilgrim on this earth, since the day of my birth, I'm a long way from my home.

  3. #3
    Axetastic doublewah's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Age
    57
    Posts
    4,241
    I have been a member of the musician's union since the late 70s, although I did lapse for a decade or so.

    There is no pressure to only play union gigs, only hire union players etc. There was around the time I joined and certainly before that. I think the folks running the union (it's actually an "association") realized that they were losing members and would continue to do so if they did not change their policies to reflect the changing world.

    I cannot work in your country without a work visa, which I get with the union's help. I do not think I can get this visa if I am not in my local union.

    There re other benefits of the union, such as insurance, pensions and the like that are set up for any members that want to take part. I also receive a monthly magazine that I would recommend you reading. Perhaps you can contact your local and let them know you are on the fence about this and would they send you a couple of back-issues.

    Talented young musicians such as you have in your family would benefit from joining the musicians' union, in my opinion. Also, your location is ideal for meeting some of the best musicians in your country. A lot of these are long-time union members, and would be pleased as punch to support a new young member, I am sure.
    I bought a relic'd guitar because I liked the way it sounded. Then I refinished it because I didn't like the way it looked.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator die Bullen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Westfield, NJ
    Age
    47
    Posts
    24,510
    These are some interesting points to consider, DW.

    I was under the impression that the union was much more of a "you're with us or against us" mentality here. But maybe I have that wrong?

    Probably contacting them and asking some questions is a good idea- honestly until your post I have not really considered music unions at all. I will ask some guys I know here too what they have to say about music unions.

  5. #5
    Axetastic doublewah's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Age
    57
    Posts
    4,241
    dB, your part of the world is very pro-union in general, or am I mistaken?

    That being the case, the musicians unions in NJ/NY area may very well still be of a "you're with us or against us" mentality. I would like to know what you find out.

    I will ask a couple of musician friends who live in your area their thoughts as well.
    I bought a relic'd guitar because I liked the way it sounded. Then I refinished it because I didn't like the way it looked.

  6. #6
    Super Moderator die Bullen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Westfield, NJ
    Age
    47
    Posts
    24,510
    Rather than saying this area is very pro-union around here, it would probably be more accurate to say that opinions about unions are very polar with a lot of people.

    I've never had someone ask us if we were union when they booked us so I'd have to assume they are more applicable to those pit musicians but I really don't know. I am going to call around and ask a couple people I know to see what their thoughts are.

  7. #7
    Axetastic doublewah's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Age
    57
    Posts
    4,241
    My point is that there are a lifetime of benefits to be gotten from the musicians union. If a young player is going to be playing for the rest of his life, he might as well join the union sooner rather than later, and start benefiting from his membership, sooner rather than later.
    I bought a relic'd guitar because I liked the way it sounded. Then I refinished it because I didn't like the way it looked.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator die Bullen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Westfield, NJ
    Age
    47
    Posts
    24,510
    Darn it that reminds me I intended to call the union today to ask them some questions- I need to remember to do this tomorrow

  9. #9
    Super Moderator die Bullen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Westfield, NJ
    Age
    47
    Posts
    24,510
    Well last night I talked to 2 of my friends who are/ were in the local union. Here are their thoughts.

    The one guy told me his only reason for joining was in order to be eligible to he hired as a sideman or for Broadway shows- Broadway gigs are almost always union. He left the union several years ago because the benefits offered there could generally be gotten elsewhere and he wasn’t finding himself playing on Broadway that often to make it worth it (NYC dues are over $200 a year).

    The other guy is a very long time union member and said his satisfaction has dwindled through the years. The local he was in recently merged with another one and his dues jumped 50% in a year (now $150+ in NJ). He also said that he used to get work from them as a sideman, but nowadays he gets nothing, which he attributes to management changes. He is still in the union but is probably leaving. He said that the magazine they send is probably the biggest benefit to him.

    Neither ever needed visa assistance for playing in other countries- if you are playing cross-border, I could see this being a very valuable benefit. Likewise if you need muscle to collect on an onvoice, the union will certainly do this for you.

    Based on what I know so far, I’m not sure I see a cogent case for having my son join a union, but I still want to place that call over to the union to see what they would weigh in with. When I called last night they were gone for the night.

  10. #10
    Axeaholic Hu Duck Xing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    2,271
    DB,
    Ya don't wanna know! But,,, I will have nothing to do with them!
    Ya can't pick up a turd by the clean end

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •