An eye-opening new article by Marc Hogan on Pitchfork highlights the impact of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes on the music business.
The ongoing strikes by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and SAG-AFTRA (representing actors) in Hollywood have had significant repercussions on the music industry, particularly for those involved in licensing music for film and TV. Music supervisor Maggie Phillips, known for her work on projects like Moonlight, has seen her income slashed by roughly half with several projects on hold, and she had to furlough her employees. Licensing music for visual media had become a crucial income source for musicians, with royalties from music synchronization contributing 2.4% of all U.S. recorded music revenues in recent years, but the strikes have disrupted opportunities for musicians.
While commercials, reality shows, and independent projects are exempt from the strikes, the disruption in the entertainment industry has affected revenue streams for musicians and music professionals. Music supervisors, who play a vital role in selecting and licensing songs for soundtracks, have also faced delays in payments due to the strikes. Unlike actors and writers, music supervisors are largely freelancers and do not qualify for employee benefits like health insurance, making it difficult for them to call for a similar strike.
The impact extends to artists releasing albums, as the timing for licensing deals and promotional opportunities like late-night TV performances has been disrupted. The absence of film and TV production is particularly felt in the music industry, where sync deals can yield significant income. Established artists might weather the storm, but emerging and underground artists are more vulnerable.
The strikes have prompted discussions about the value of creative work and compensation for musicians, paralleling the broader shifts in the music industry with the rise of streaming platforms. While the strikes have created uncertainty, they also highlight the need for fair compensation and rights for musicians in an evolving digital landscape.