A bizarre Myspace message from Vains of Jenna singer Lizzy DeVine got me thinking about musicians and union protection.
Evidently, dear Lizzy needs a root canal and the dental procedure is going to cost a thousand bones.
That’s a lot of jack, glam fans.
After Lizzy opined about his financial status (and really... all of us are broke deep down) I got to wondering about musicians, financial protection, health benefits…and union representation.
If a musician is signed to a label, I would expect that accomplishment to have perks (other than free beer and autograph-hungry fans).
Most average people have jobs with benefits that include health insurance.
Even today many people hold union memberships that protect wages and benefits. I work at a union television station.
The nation’s largest union is the Screen Actors Guild, representing nearly 120, 000 working actors. According to www.sag.org "The Guild exists to enhance working conditions, compensation and benefits and to be a powerful, unified voice on behalf of artist's rights. ”
While it might seem fashionable for a creative genius to starve for his art, I disagree. If a musician is steadily working, performing on a regular basis and making money for a label I feel that person (or persons) is entitled to some basic health care.
Orchestral performers typically have union representation (in a former life I did public relations for a professional Philharmonic).
With an iron-clad union contract, the philharmonic musicians earned a good wage and worked great hours. Their performances protected, bootlegging – and photography - strictly prohibited.
So, is there such a thing as a unified musicians union for rock stars?
A quick Google search lead me to the American Federation of Musicians. A little poking around on the site, and I found that a membership does entitle a musician to health coverage. Membership dues vary, but a little more than a hundred bucks seems the going rate for all chapters.
Now, I have no way of knowing if Vains of Jenna are members of this union, but I think labels need to take better care of their young talent while working them to death. After all, should VOJ break big (and they will, mark my words) Filthy Note stands to profit handily.