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AFTRA Members Ratify Sound Recordings Code

LOS ANGELES (May 23, 2008) – The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists announced today that AFTRA members ratified the National Sound Recordings Code by a 98.5% margin of approval.

The national contract covers royalty artists and session singers who work with the more than 1,200 recording companies, including the four major labels—EMI, Sony BMG, Universal Music Group, and Warner—and most of their subsidiary labels. In addition to popular music in all genres, the Sound Recordings Code covers classical recordings, Broadway cast albums, Latin recordings, and spoken word recordings, including audio books. 

The ratification process, which concluded on May 22, was conducted by an online and phone referendum among those members of AFTRA in good standing who had earnings under the Sound Code during the period 2002-2007.

“The recording artists and session singers who served on the Negotiating Committee achieved gains for all sound recording artists,” said AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon, “with increased session rates, improved health and retirement coverage for royalty artists, and a new formula for compensation on digital downloads.”

Improvements in the new Code: 

• An immediate boost in rates for session singers, with a 3% increase in group rates and a 2.5% increase in all other rates. Minimum rates increase again by 2.5% on July 1, 2008, and 3% on July 1, 2009.

• Guaranteed health insurance for newly-signed and existing roster artists. Guaranteed individual health insurance was retained and the labels’ “special payment” toward this insurance was increased, to ensure it remains available to newly-signed and existing roster artists who don’t automatically qualify for AFTRA health benefits.

• Increased health and retirement credit for group artists. Under the new Code, starting in 2009, there will be a separate and higher “cap” for group artists, increasing their opportunities for  family health benefits as well as increased pension payouts upon retirement.

• New payments for digital downloads and music videos. Payment was established for all non-royalty singers for permanent audio downloads and the digital exploitation of music videos, as well as incorporated existing rates for non-permanent audio downloads in the Code. The new formula for digital downloads improves on the existing contingent scale structure for physical product. In addition, AFTRA Health and Retirement contributions will be made on download payments, further providing opportunities for session performers to earn health and retirement credits.

Negotiations with the record companies took place over a period of 16 months with a tentative agreement reached in February.

The new three-year agreement is effective immediately and runs from July 1, 2007, to June 30, 2010. 

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO, is a national labor union of over 70,000 actors, singers and recording artists, dancers, announcers and other broadcast talent performers, journalists, and other artists working in the entertainment and news media. With more than 30 Locals across the country, AFTRA promotes the success and welfare of members in a variety of ways, including contract negotiation and enforcement, advocating on legislative and public policy issues, supporting equal employment opportunities, and sponsoring or supporting health and retirement benefits and programs. For more information, visit