The Roots performing on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”
The Roots, Other Musicians Of Late Night Talk Shows Demand Equal Health Care, Wages, And Residuals In Open Letter Sent To Networks
A group of musicians have banded together to demand fair treatment and pay for their work on some of network television’s most popular shows. In an open letter addressed to the heads of ABC, ViacomCBS, as well as NBC Universal and published on the American Federation of Musicians website, the various band members, including members of The Roots, say they’ve been made to accept contracts that came with less compensation than that of “actors, writers, and directors:”
This month your companies acknowledged that live television musicians are the only sector of the industry exhibiting substantial racial diversity, but at the bargaining table we are told that our contributions are worth less…even though we give just as much. You cannot ignore that the other guilds are predominantly white and are compensated at a higher rate with residual payments for streamed content, health care, and wages.
This letter has reportedly been published just as contract negotiations for the members of the American Federation of Musicians begins this month. According to the letter, the musicians feel that they have to “beg” for what other guilds similar to them currently receive with no issue and that their contributions to these shows are largely unappreciated and under-compensated:
The networks’ shows use Black music and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) for humor, healing, and processing emotional content. The clips from these shows and music from these programs generate millions of views and tens of millions of dollars in advertising revenue on streaming platforms like Peacock, CBS AllAccess, and Disney+, yet the musicians receive NO residual payment for music that is being monetized and featured on ANY streaming platform.
The letter went on to admonish the “powers that be” at each of the networks to take a step in the direction of coming to some sort of common ground with the musicians:
You have yet to show a willingness to reach a meaningful agreement with the most diverse workforce in the entertainment industry: live television musicians. Now is the time to fix this problem by no longer taking advantage of us and offering economic parity with our creative colleagues. We demand fair wages, fair health coverage, and equal residuals for work used on streaming platforms.
The letter was signed by musicians like Kamal Gray, James Poyser, and Dave Guy of The Roots, who play in bands or are involved in the music production of the bands on popular network shows such as Dancing with the Stars, Saturday Night Live, The Voice, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. At this time, no official response appears to have been provided regarding these demands as of yet.
What do you think about the demands made by The Roots and their fellow musicians in their open letter? Sound off in the comments!