The Musician's Bill of Rights

Whereas, musicians, in addition to being artists, are also human beings entitled to human rights, and workers entitled to workers' rights, therefore let it be self-evident that these rights shall for now and forever include:

  1. The right to enjoy a minimum wage, whether derived from live performance, royalties, or reuse, that is sufficient to provide a standard of support proportional to the entire investment of time and resources required to secure and perform said gainful employment.
  2. The right to safe and healthy working conditions including protection from health threatening theatrical devices, demeaning and exploitive costumes or uniforms, excessive sound pressure levels, substandard travel arrangements, ingestion of second hand tobacco smoke, irrelevant recorded music before performances and during intermissions and the right to reasonable rest periods.
  3. The right to quality education, health care, legal protection and representation, housing, financial services, child care, unemployment benefits and retirement security, all of which must be affordable within the economic limits defined by the minimum wage.
  4. The right to equal employment opportunities based on musical qualifications and/or entertainment value regardless of race, ethnic background, age, gender, religion, cultural diversity or political affiliations.
  5. The right to negotiate fairly on one's own behalf with universal recognition and legal enforcement of resulting contracts on agreed terms.
  6. The right to free speech as defined in the U. S. Constitution Bill of Rights and applied to all musical performances and/ or recordings.
  7. The right to ownership of all intellectual property rights as applied to compositions, performances, and recordings by all players and singers as well as leaders and publishers who are already protected.
  8. The right to bargain collectively.
  9. The right to freedom from discrimination.
  10. The right to respect from society, equal to that afforded all other workers and professionals are also entitled to the same rights in exchange for the respective contribution of time and materials to place their work in society.

What is "Minimum Wage"?

Minimum wage from gainful employment must be sufficient to pay all necessary costs for life, shelter, and health care in the proportion of 100% for 40 hours weekly invested and directly proportional for fewer hours.

This investment of time includes, in addition to hours of actual live performance, those hours spent in practice, rehearsal, preparation, post-production and (when required by the employer) promotion of the event.

In absolutely no instance shall this total work investment be compensated for less than federally mandated minimum wages. Cash investment, including commissions to agents, managers, attorneys, and promoters, to secure musical employment, as well as all production costs associated with said employment, shall in every instance be over and above this minimum wage.

In those instances when the artist is at financial risk for a speculative project, including performances and/or recordings, that artist shall be guaranteed a portion of the profits realized (including all subsequent reuses) that is never less than directly proportional to the percentage of risk borne by the artist.


Local 76-493 is the collective bargaining representative for musicians working at the Paramount Theatre, the 5th Avenue Theatre, Village Theatre, the Tacoma Symphony, Bellevue Philharmonic Orchestra and Cornish College in the dance department. As the local union president, I negotiate and administer the collective bargaining agreements. Our collective bargaining agreements set forth wages, benefits, and working conditions for each orchestra, so these rights cannot be unilaterally taken away by the employers.

About 350 of our musicians work under collective bargaining agreements. Many have served on the negotiating teams and as union stewards. The local's president administers the agreements which protects your rights at work. Each collective bargaining agreement has a dispute resolution process that is fair to the musicians and the employers. We use the process to protect the integrity of the collective bargaining agreements and resolve problems collaboratively.

Benefits of a typical Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA):

  • Musicians working under a CBA often receive a wage premium of 20-30% above musicians working in the same sector without the protections of a union contract;
  • Musician may participate in the American Federation of Musicians-Employer Pension Fund (a multi-employer pension fund/ and portable) when working under qualifying contracts;
  • Industry standards for doubling pay, cartage, parking, over-time pay and minimum call pay are negotiable and provisions in many AFM CBA's;
  • A three-step grievance process with arbitration by a neutral third party when the contract is violated or a musician's rights under the CBA are violated;
  • Due process for musicians who are terminated from their job including a Peer Review Committee that may over rule the conductor's decision;
  • A fair auditions process to fill vacancies in the orchestras; and
  • Recording provisions that protect your work from unauthorized uses.
  • Union representation and CBA negotiations are an organizing campaign and available for musicians working for an employer.