By Dawoud Kringle
On Thursday, December 3rd, 2020, Musicians For Musicians held its annual Membership Meeting to present the state of MFM in the year 2020. The meeting was held via Zoom conference (in observation of social distancing).
The first order of business was the membership votes on the Board of Directors. David Belmont tallied the votes. The vote unanimously reelected the entire Board of Directors:
Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi – President and David Belmont, Billy Harper, & Roger Blanc, Mario Guarneri and Keith Levenson – Board of Directors
David Belmont offered the Financial Report for the year 2020. The net revenues of 2020 are as follows:
-Membership dues = $2864.17
-Contributions = $479.95
-Fundraiser Contributions = $2811.30
-DBDBD CD Review Contribution = $14.04
-MFM T-Shirt Sales = $72.23
-Ticket Sales (meet-ups, workshops) = $48.25
Subtotal = $6289.94
2020 Expenses were as follows:
-WeWork rent = $475
-iPostal (online address & mail box) = $159.32
-Wingspan Arts space rental = $30
-Remuneration to Dawoud Kringle for literary contributions to DBDBD & MFM Newsletter = $500
-Remuneration to Adam Reifsteck for website maintenance = $357.50
-VIMEO fees = $91.46
-BDE (t-shirt supplier) = $629
-Go-Daddy fees = $1109.91
-AMTRAK (travel to Albany, NY) = $109
-Google G-Suite fee = $156.84
-Simplecast (podcast platform) = $162
-PayPal fees = $196.88
Subtotal = $3976.91
Loans from MFM President = $0.00
Balance Total = $2313.03. This was the first time in MFM’s five year history that we have made a profit and is not operating on a deficit.
Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi offered a detailed report about the fundraiser. As is pointed out above, MFM netted $2811.30 from the fundraiser. Additionally, while a substantial number of MFM members contributed to the fundraiser, we also received generous contributions from non-members (a sample of these include Fiona McTaggert, Ron Carter, Clara Aich, and Jeffery James).
The MFM Achievement Report & 2020 MFM Goals and New Tasks Report were presented by Roger Blanc. Our achievements were as follows:
1. MFM continued to run educational ZOOM Webinars with guest speakers in lieu of live events (such as the Online Music Marketing webinar on September 17).
2. MFM advised its members regarding government Unemployment Benefits and other resources. This was very helpful to many of our members whose incomes were affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
3. MFM’s bimonthly podcast, MFM SPEAKS OUT (https://musiciansformusicians.org/podcast/). Episodes feature interview-style discussions on musicians’ issues, with guests including jazz master David Liebman, Arturo O’Farrill (Afro Latin Jazz Alliance), Ken Hatfield (on copyright), Mario Guarneri (SF, Jazz In The Neighborhood) LaRonda Davis (President of the Black Rock Coalition), Philo Farnsworth (on the role of sample based music), Willaim Deresiewicz, (how musicians can survive in the digital age), Jeffery James (on the future of contemporary classical music), and DeLaurentis (on the new wave of European electronic music. DeLaurentis was also the first European to appear on MFM Speaks Out).
4. MFM continued to offer its members music business information via MFM’s on-line magazine DooBeeDooBeeDoo (https://doobeedoobeedoo.info/) and via social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).
5. MFM continues to reach out to “pro musicians’ rights” politicians and collaborate with other musicians’ rights organizations to improve musicians’ lives via legislation.
6. MFM opened the MFM Hudson Valley Chapter in Kingston NY; our first chapter outside of New York City. The chapter is headed by Stephen Johnson and Senior MFM member Joe Lovano. We had a Meet Up in Kingston in February 2020 with Joe Lovano.
7. The United States Library of Congress has selected MFM’s website for inclusion in the historic collection of Internet materials related to the Professional Organizations for Performing Arts Web Archive. Our website has been deemed by the Library of Congress to be an important part of its collection and historical record. MFM is now officially a national treasure.
The outline for MFM’s Goals and Tasks for the year of 2021 is as follows:
1. Continue educational Zoom webinars. Plans for future educational webinars include Baba Donn Eaton (Caribbean rhythms), Richard Miller & Stephen Johnson (Brazilian music) and a panel discussion w. David Liebman, Joe Lovano, Jimmy Owens, Arturo O’Farrill and Billy Harper discussing the role and importance of jazz in our society.
2. Continue advising our members regarding government Unemployment Benefits (PUA) and other resources under the leadership with Keith Levenson.
3. Continue MFM’s bi-monthly podcast, MFM Speaks Out.
4. Continuing to offer our members practical and up-to-date information on the music business via MFM’s on-line magazine DooBeeDooBeeDoo and social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
5. Continue reaching out to politicians whose positions are supportive of musicians and our pursuit of rights, and to collaborate with other musicians’ rights organizations to support and promote legislation that is advantageous to professional musicians.
6. Organize the 2021 Fundraiser toward end of the year (likely in the same Oct-Nov time-frame as the 2020 fundraiser).
7. Ladjevardi and Blanc are working on the presentation of a music and talk event at the New School.
8. Recruit new members with the goal of 50 Pro members.
(The last two goals were leftovers from last year’s agenda / list of goals. The pandemic was an obvious factor in preventing us from accomplishing this. )
Finally, we had a report on the MFM Hudson Valley Chapter. The following statement was offered by Stephen Johnson:
“As my year term as MHV chapter head is coming to completion, my report regarding the health and wellbeing, spirit and unity in the MFM community is really more a testament to the tenacity and perseverance all the musicians in this area. I have felt the pain and struggle of musicians throughout the area, I’ve listened to their story and also their wisdom.
Although we have been debilitated by the covid lockdown and restrictions, we have still seen creative output and performances of various sorts taking place. Thanks to the support of the MFM community most musicians are still hanging in or biding time and making plans for better days to come.
This year we have held small conference calls, held emergency meetings, attended online funeral tributes and networked amongst the larger circle. I was able to co-present and produce a video stream performance by my group ‘Future350 Nu Bossa’ and. managed it with decent pay compensation for all involved.
As Covid pessimism takes its toll on us musicians, I am personally encouraged when reading the MFM announcements and posts, inspired when listening to the MFM musicians interview podcasts. Thank you all.
So, with bold optimism I look forward to representing the MHV chapter in 2021, and all being well, we will dig our way out of Covid malaise and together experience the power of music making as a profession in the larger community”
2020 was a tumultuous and I would dare say disastrous year for professional musicians in the US. For many, everything was either changed or taken away. Our lives were affected in ways that we could not foresee, and which the Trump administration deliberately ignored and allowed to happen for the sole purpose of its self interest. Our community was subject to trials and tribulations. Yet, we survived. The successes that MFM achieved during this time should not have been possible. Yet it happened. It is clear evidence that MFM is on the right path, and its work is serving a much needed purpose.