The Latin music market is booming (sales rose from $250 million in 1995 to $490 million in 1997), but many of the musicians who’ve made it possible are being left in the dust. When the major labels set up their Latin subsidiaries, they made them separate entities that were not part of the Phonograph Record Labor Agreement (PRLA). The result is that Tejano/Latino session players in Texas-a hotbed of recording for the Latin music industry-are paid $50 a song (no hourly rate), compared to the union scale, which is $271.72 (plus health and pension benefits) for three hours. This is what most pop, rock, and country session players receive. But anyone on the Tejano scene who complains stops getting called for sessions.
In response, the American Federation of Musicians in San Antonio has been waging its STAR (Support Tejano Advancement in Recording) campaign to bring Texas pay scales up where they belong. BMG US Latin and Polygram Latino have agreed to honor the PRLA, but Sony and EMI refuse, claiming they have no say over how much the musicians who help them bring in hundreds of millions of dollars are paid.
STAR has gathered support from dozens of musicians such as Paquito D’Rivera, Jackson Browne, and Joe Ely, put a group of San Antonio musicians-the Starliters-on the road, and enlisted the support of many community, labor, and religious organizations. To learn more or to add your name to the list of supporters, go to www.afm.org.
[from Rock & Rap Confidential/1999]
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