The Electronic Media Services Division Fee, or EMSD Fee, is an assessment of 0.4% of scale wages for those musicians who earned scale wages of $2,500 or more under Federation non-symphonic recording agreements.

The Fee is unique in that musicians voted to assess it upon themselves when it was instituted in 2010, based on a new AFM Bylaw adopted by the AFM Convention. The AFM Convention held in that year saw dramatic changes. Rank and file musicians had participated in a campaign for change, bringing to a head years of conflict between AFM, Local and Player Conference leadership. The Convention voted in a whole new team of AFM Officers, yet the financial condition of the AFM was so tenuous that its survival hung in the balance. In dramatic late-night meetings, rank and file musicians proposed a new fee that the affected musicians could vote on, with the understanding that this would lead to a more democratic governance than we had previously experienced. The International Executive Board was given authority to establish this new fee upon a vote of the musicians in the recording bargaining units.

Musicians all over North America voted to assess 0.4% upon themselves in order to help the AFM provide the resources and services we all depend upon. 

Implementing the new fee through the computer systems in Los Angeles, New York, Nashville and elsewhere was more complicated than expected, but ultimately the fee became a regular line item in musicians’ work dues statements.

From the AFM Bylaws:

SECTION 9(a). The IEB shall have the express authority to establish an annual fee payable by all musicians who earned scale wages of $2,500 or more, in the aggregate, in the prior calendar year for work under Federation recording agreements (other than symphonic recording agreements) provided that such fee i) is approved by the four AFM members who currently compose the EMSD Oversight Committee as described in the Roehl Report (or their replacements selected in accordance with current practice); and ii) is ratified by the affected musicians by mail ballot referendum. Such fee (“EMSD Fee”) shall be collected by the appropriate Local and shall be remitted by the Local to the Federation.

SECTION 9(b). If the EMSD Fee is calculated as a percentage of scale wages earned, the fee shall be due and payable to the Local where the services were performed and shall be due and payable no later than the 15th day of the month following the month during which the member was paid. Any member violating the provision of this Section shall be subject to a fine of not less than $10 nor more than $100, suspension and/or expulsion from the AFM. The Local where the services were performed shall collect the EMSD Fee along with its Local Work Dues.

SECTION 9(c). The Local shall forward to the International Secretary-Treasurer all EMSD Fees collected during each month on or before the 15th day of the following month, together with a report in a form that the Secretary-Treasurer shall prescribe. Absent a showing of extraordinary circumstances, payments forwarded after a grace period of one month shall be subject to a penalty in the amount of 2% per month or fraction of a month computed from the end of the grace period.