....LMB: "Musicians and Health Care"....

March 28, 2004

Most of the folks we hear about in the music industry are the superstars who sells millions of records a year and live on yachts made of gold and drive SUVs made of Cristal bottles. But there are tens of thousands of musicians in this country alone who make moderate money, or none at all. They've got little to no economic power, have no real organizations to fight for their rights, and they exist as tiny ants who's destinies are shaped by gargantuan record companies.

Just got this email from the political musician site Rock & Rap Confidential which looks at the increasingly vital issue of health care, as it relates to "working class" musicians (to sort of coin a phrase).

Music and Health Care (what are we going to do about it?)

On March 19th, a very important panel discussion, "Musicians and Health Care," was held at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas. Present were artists, managers, entertainment union leaders, music journalists, and health care activists. The consensus of the discussion was two things. First, we must embrace every effort to bring health care to musicians right now, even though we all realize how flawed our health care system is. Second, we must promote the widest possible discussion of how to fundamentally solve the health care crisis.

This panel discussion will soon be replicated in Los Angeles. If you live there and would like to attend, please let us know so that we can get you the details as soon as they are set. If you do not live in Los Angeles, please think about how to organize people in your city to come together for similar discussion and action. We will help you in any way we can.

What do we, as artists and others in the music industry, do about our lack of health care?

Good question. What follows is what we have come up with so far. Let us know what we are leaving out.

1. If you are searching for a health care plan, check out Access to Health Insurance/Resources for Care, a great resource base put together by the Actors Fund. Go to the AHIRC web site and click on your state to find out what's available.

2. Rock A Mole Productions has done some ground-breaking research and discovered that there are over one thousand benefits each week in America done by musicians for other musicians in health crisis. Please support every one in your city that you can. Let us know if you are planning one (rockrap@aol.com). These benefits could be a huge movement for health care if linked up. What ideas do you have on how to do that?

3. There is a growing movement in the U.S. to set up free medical clinics. There are clinics in New Orleans and New Jersey specifically for musicians and we are aware of attempts to start musicians clinics in Texas and California. To find the nearest free medical clinic or to get information on how to start one, go to the Volunteers in Medicine web site.

4. The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) has a new contract with its signatory record labels which greatly expands the number of musicians who can get health care coverage. If you're an AFTRA member, find out about it. If you are not an AFTRA member, tell someone who is.

Contact: AFTRA at 212-532-0800 / New York or 323-634-8100 / Los Angeles


AFTRA Health & Retirement at 212-499-4800 / New York or 323-937-3631 / Los

5. Jobs With Justice is a national coalition of unions and community organizations which recently sponsored a Health Care Action Day in over 50 cities. JwJ has an Artist Support Program which involves artists of all kinds in community struggles. To get involved, contact tfaulkner@cwa-union.org.

6. The movement around health care is everywhere. There are strikes to preserve benefits, battles to keep hospitals open, struggles around the funding of medical schools, etc. etc. Find ways to involve your music in these important efforts. Let us know about it so we can spread the word (rockrap@aol.com).

7. Finally, we need a vision of how to fundamentally and permanently transform our disintegrating system of health care denial into a system of universal
health care delivery. Check out the Just Health Care campaign at www.justhealthcare.org. The Just Health Care campaign explains for the first time how such a system of universal health care can be paid for (and without raising taxes on anyone who makes under $184,000 a year).

Access to affordable health care is obviously vital to the survival, both physical and economic, of everyone in this country, yet the costs and availability are spiraling out of control. Last year, the huge costs of health care were the direct cause of at least three major labor struggles in southern California alone.

I challenge all writers, reporters and bloggers to research and write about the behind-the-scenes of American health care. Let's find out the core of the problem and tackle that.

Posted by Jake at 03:48 PM | TrackBack (0)

Thank you for this story, it's so good to know about this. i know there are free clinics for people in need, but didn't know there were clinics specifically to types of artists. I have a friend who was an actor, before she became ill. Healthcare costs have been a huge problem in her life. She's stuck in LA, because her insurance isn't portable and she fears not being able to get converage in a new place due to her pre-exisiting problems. We have to fix healtcare in this country.

Posted by: ljm at March 29, 2004 12:29 PM

I'm a 26 year old male non-smoker who's looking for cheap coverage desperately. I am a musician, but am also in school so I'm not really gigging or having enough time to get work that would supply me with benefits. What should I do?

Posted by: Jason Pullen at July 2, 2004 09:55 PM
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Lying Media Bastards is both a radio show and website. The show airs Mondays 2-4pm PST on KillRadio.org, and couples excellent music with angry news commentary. And the website, well, you're looking at it.

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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

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Mission: Mongolia

Jake's first attempt at homemade Mongolican barbecue:


What went right: correctly guessing several key seasonings- lemon, ginger, soy, garlic, chili.

What went wrong: still missing some ingredients, and possibly had one wrong, rice vinegar. Way too much lemon and chili.

Result: not entirely edible.

Plan for future: try to get people at Great Khan's restaurant to tell me what's in the damn sauce.

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