Leading MROs Join Forces With CA Legislature to Ensure Music Thrives Under AB5

California’s music industry announced an agreement has been reached with Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) and Majority Leader Ian C. Calderon (D-Whittier) on pending amendments to Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) that will provide relief to the vast majority of affected music professionals including recording artists, musicians, composers, songwriters and vocalists. Upon the Legislature’s reconvening, amendments will change prior language in AB5 that created unworkable obstacles for music professionals securing work.

Assemblywoman Gonzalez introduced legislation in January to continue working on the issues affecting musicians and a variety of other industries, following the passage of AB5 which established a three-part ABC test for determining employment status. The new language has been agreed upon by the Recording Industry Association of America® (RIAA), American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), Music Artists Coalition (MAC), Independent Music Professionals United (IMPU), Songwriters of North America (SONA), American Federation of Musicians (AFM), the Recording Academy®, International Allegiance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) and Teamsters.

The language of the pending amendment states that most music professionals will once again be able to follow the Borello test (versus Dynamex or AB5) to determine employment classification for both live performances and studio recordings. The language also specifically provides for unions to continue to organize the work of recording artists, musicians, singers, and others, ensuring that current and future collective bargaining agreements will always govern in CA.

Jordan Bromley on the Board of the Music Artists Coalition played a key role in advocating for independent artists and their rights, leading the negotiations on behalf of the music industry, and working with all interested unions to find consensus.

“I am proud to be a part of this amazing consensus. Having worked personally with every stakeholder in the process for the last year, I can say that each elected official, coalition, association, union and individual working on behalf of their constituency truly cared about not only the members they work to protect, but also our industry as a whole. This is a significant result that is critical to our industry’s success in today’s economy,” said Bromley.

"This amendment to AB5 is a testament to the commitment of all stakeholders’ to protect their individual constituents’ interests while assiduously working together towards a consensus solution for all," said Dr. Richard James Burgess of the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM). "Many thanks are due to Jordan Bromley for leading the negotiations and to Assemblywoman Gonzalez and Majority Leader Calderon for protecting the livelihoods of California musicians."

“Whether you are in a union or not, protecting the rights of working people has been the primary goal throughout this entire process,” said John Acosta, president of the American Federation of Musicians Local 47. “Finding a model that fits the unique needs of musicians has been no small task, and we are grateful to everyone involved for reaching a solution that will serve to benefit musicians and all workers throughout California”

According to Ari Herstand, independent musician, best-selling author and artist advocate, this latest change provides valuable protections to California’s music industry. Herstand leads the newly formed Independent Music Professionals United (IMPU) coalition. IMPU met with lawmakers, created a petition that received over 185,000 signatures and actively worked on negotiating amendment language with all invested stakeholders.

“I had lots of sleepless nights to get musicians relief under AB5, but I’m happy we were able to come to an agreement,” says Ari Herstand. “As a songwriter and book author, I never thought that one of the most impactful things I’d ever have a hand in writing would be a law for the state of California. Life is funny sometimes.”

“I am grateful for the extraordinary work of the entire music community in California. This agreement once again reflects that we are strongest when we stand together,” said Mitch Glazier, Chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America. “The amendment appropriately narrows the effect of AB5 to clarify that music professionals, due to the unique nature of our business, cannot be treated as an employer every time they collaborate. We thank Assemblywoman Gonzalez and Majority Leader Calderon for being true partners in this effort to ensure that musicians can continue to create, live, and thrive in the state of California.”

Recording Academy Chair and Interim President/CEO Harvey Mason jr. added: “With this exemption, music creators can get back to work on their own terms of collaboration. The history of music making in California has played a vital role in shaping the world’s culture, and we can now continue that for generations to come. These are challenging times for creators but this is good news for those in California. I want to extend our gratitude to Assemblywoman Gonzalez and Majority Leader Calderon, and thank our own California members for fighting to bring this exemption to life.”

SAG-AFTRA Chief Deputy General Counsel, Jeffrey Bennett, added, “Keeping the music industry strong in CA, maintaining our ability to protect and organize the work of recording artists and singers, and allowing the creative community to thrive makes this a real and timely win for us all. A special thanks to Assemblywoman Gonzalez and Majority Leader Calderon for their leadership.”