AFM V. American Idol: Million Dollar Settlement for Musicians
Gabriel, Dick, International Musician
The AFM took on American Idol for stripping the orchestra tracks from the vocalist's performance in an attempt to avoid paying musicians their due.
The lawsuit filed by the AFM against the producers of American Idol was over reruns of the show's second season. However, the events leading up to filing of the law suit began many months earlier when the producers made a request for discounted AFM rates for reruns of the first season.
There is no doubt as to the success of the American Idol show so it was a surprise when the AFM was first contacted by the show with a proposal to consider a discounted pay rate for the musicians for reruns of the first season. It came down to determining what would be the rationale for doing something that would result in musicians receiving less than what they were entitled to.
After some analysis, as well as some discussion with a cross section of our musicians working in this area, a percentage discount was offered to the producer that was conditional upon the musicians being paid in advance for the entire first season of reruns. Unfortunately, the percentage discount that the company had in mind was ridiculously lower than fair, so the AFM turned them down.
As a result, the billings for the reruns submitted by the AFM at the full rate were ignored by the show's producers. As the situation approached the point of collection and possible litigation, a meeting took place between the American Idol producers and the AJFM (Federation and Local 47 staff, as well as representative members of the orchestra and their legal counsel, Hirsch Adell of Reich, Adell and Crost), where a settlement was reached for the reruns of the first season. …