From the President

"Why doesn't the union do something?" We hear this a lot. The union is only as strong as its members. We have contracts on our website for any member to use. Using one would guarantee pay and give some security to whomever signs it. We have legal counsel available for members and we work constantly to make sure our members' contracts are honored. When we find out that a group is not honoring its word, union or not, we do our best to let everyone know about it.

In today's world, if a group fires you and you do not have a contract, there is nothing that a person can do about it. People are free to hire whomever they want, but if a group that mistreats musicians could not get anyone to perform for them, they might think twice about mistreating musicians.

When musicians are aware that colleagues have not been paid by a group, it would be a wise move not to perform for that group. Not only is there a good chance that the new musician stepping in will also not get the promised wage, but when a musician performs for such a group, it perpetuates the problem and contributes to the decline in working conditions and pay, not to mention the offense towards the previous colleagues who were stiffed.

When we keep undercutting our colleagues, eventually our pay becomes so low that we cannot consider ourselves professional musicians anymore. One might think that a $100 gig, about 45 miles away, comes out to $40 per hour, but when driving time, expenses, and self-employment taxes are factored in, it comes out to about $5 an hour (before any practice time and instrument costs are added!) Chances are, after expenses are figured in, the $100-a-gig musician is working for all-but-free. As we lower our standards, our audiences do too, and we help to ruin the artistic culture in South Florida.

When people get to know each other, they realize that we are all in this together. My wish is that we unite and work together to improve our community.


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