Reality Show Producers Find Nashville Musicians Not As Slack Jawed or Yokel-Like As They Assumed

cletus.jpgLesson one for producers heading to Nashville to create quick content on the cheap: The musicians there have a union, and they’re going to want to be paid for their efforts. Everyone realizes you assume that people who live outside of the broadcast reach of KCRW are uncultured morons, but people around the world are familiar with the idea of getting paid for the work they do.

The producers of a reality show about the country music industry got their own dose of reality over the weekend when the musicians union threatened to halt production until they agree to pay union musicians.

The Nashville Association of Musicians and Go Go Luckey Productions, creators of the Fox show Nashville, don’t have an agreement that would let members of Local 257 be videotaped for the program, said Harold Bradley, president of the union’s Nashville office….

On Saturday, producers had planned on videotaping a show at music venue 12th & Porter, but Bradley told them that unless they signed an agreement, he would pull the union musicians from the taping. Union members can be fined $50,000, expelled from the union or both if they work for anyone who hasn’t signed a deal with the union.

Bradley ultimately didn’t pull the musicians from the live show but kept the cameras away.

“In an act of good faith, we thought they had quite a crowd and maybe they should do the live show,” Bradley said. “We told them, ‘You can go ahead and do the live show, but you can’t tape the guys.’ “

On Thursday, the union received calls from musicians who were playing a recording session when the show’s camera crew arrived.

“Once they found out what it was, they tore up the release forms,” Bradley said, noting the TV crew tried to secure signatures with the lure of being on TV.

“They said, ‘When have you been on TV?’ One guy gave them a laundry list of appearances.”

Bradley, who has been negotiating since Thursday, finds it unbelievable that a show about the country music industry doesn’t want to pay musicians.

“They say, ‘We’re not going to make the music the focus; we’re just going to follow them around.’ I say without music, you wouldn’t be here.”

While the existence of the Girls Gone Wild series proves that there are some people willing to exchange their rights for the lure of being on camera, the musicians’ union in Nashville is unlikely to be among that group, even if the producers of Laguna Beach come knocking. One has to wonder what the production company was thinking, especially considering that publicity likely wouldn’t have much effect on the amount of work a session musician receives. But we probably should take the producers at their word: there’s no reason to believe that a show called Nashville, profiling aspiring singers and filming in recording studios and at live music venues, would have music at its focus. After all, the show is slated to be aired on Fox.

Hollywood TV types find out musicians don’t play for free [The Tennessean]

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  • Mick Kraut

    As a lawyer in private practice for one New York based client I heartily approve!

    A word to guys out on the west coast…remember Jack Woltz, perhaps he was no band leader, but he understood how my client reacts to bad news…

  • Phineas Poe

    They don’t tend to be big union supporters down south, but man, the few folks who are union people are not to be fucked around with.

  • Lucas Jensen

    Good call on Nashville not being backwater. It’s a pretty urbane city. Clean, too!

  • Phineas Poe

    @Lucas Jensen: Clean don’t mean nuthin’…look at Cincinnati.

  • Chris N.

    We even have running water here now!