Many of us have seen the recent online petition asking for a change in the way airlines deal with musicians and instruments.

http://www.change.org/petitions/fair-treatment-for-musicians-traveling-on-planes-with-their-instruments

I’ve decided not to sign the petition. Here’s why.

The organisation running the petition, change.org, has received criticism of the manner that they handle personal information, which may be openly available to search engines and which they may be selling to others as part of their revenue stream. (They are a for profit organisation running campaigns on behalf of other organisations). And I have never heard of the FIM (the organisation who want the petition), and I don’t know what their agenda is either.

Besides, I’m not that happy with the petition. It’s vague and badly written, doesn’t approach the differing problems with different instruments, and needs something resembling concrete proposals.

“We want change!”

“OK. What kind of change?”

“Erm, something!”

Personally, I’ve had no troubles travelling with instruments. I pick my airlines carefully, I talk with them before hand, get documentation if possible. If I’m travelling for paid gigs, any additional costs are considered when deciding if the trip is financially viable.

I’m not saying that airlines shouldn’t work better with musicians, of course they should, but I’m not sure what legislation can do, or what legislation is needed, to alleviate the problem. Without deciding that and putting it in the petition, I think we’re peeing against the wind. We need to do a better job of this and do it through more recognised organisations that can claim to speak for more of us as an industry of professionals.

Have a great weekend, everyone,

K.

3 comments on “Petition on Fair treatment for musicians traveling on planes – Why I’m not signing

  1. Benoit Machuel

    FIM is the International Federation of Musicians (FIM), founded in 1948, with has a global membership of about 70 member organizations covering all continents. FIM was at the core of the adoption of the Rome convention (1961), the first international instrument to grant intellectual property rights to performers. In 1996, it was again a key actor in the adoption of the WPPT, which updates this protection for the digital environment.

    FIM fights for the rights of musicians at international level every day and undertakes projects in developing countries in order to help professional musicians get united and thus be able to enter into more balanced relationships with their employers or co-contractors.

    FIM is recognized by the ILO, WIPO, Unesco, the EU Commission and Parliament, the Council of Europe etc. It is a member of the Council of Global Unions (through the IAEA). Basically, there is no other organisation that even approaches what FIM does for musicians internationally.

    The petition suggests to use the US FAA regulation as a model to update the EU regulation. But at this stage it is more a political issue: unless the EU Commission agrees with the principle that the specific problems faced by musicians should be addressed, there will be nothing to discuss in more details. At the moment, they say it is a luggage problem that is not covered by regulation 261/2004. The first step is therefore to get the Commissioner to take a positive move on that. There will then be an entry point that can also be used at EU Parliament level.

    You’re lucky if you never had any problem traveling with your instrument. It is certainly not my case. You may already know that at US level, it is only in 2012 that the AFM (a FIM member) could get the US FAA amended in a way that is reasonably fair to musicians. Almost all FIM member unions have expressed the same need to change the situation in the rest of the world. Even orchestras managers and tour organizers are supporting us.

    I wish you all the best in your future trips and hope you can join the global community of musicians who feel there is still a lot to be done in respect to their ability to travel for professional purposes. We would all be happy if you could sign and share the petition too.

    Please feel free to visit our website (www.fim-musicians.org) and subscribe to our newsletter if you think it can be of interest to you.

    Best wishes,

  2. DrKev

    Benoit,

    Thank you so much for your response. Had I seen this sort of text when I first saw the petition request I would have been much more likely to consider it further. I am still uncomfortable giving my personal info to change.org until I have further researched the criticism of how they are dealing with the personal data required to sign, an issue I note you still do not address.

    I feel you still need to do a better job of explaining what you sort of changes you are after. For example, how were US regulations amended? What are US airlines now required to do and how have those requirements made life easier for musicians?

    Transparency is vital. Not only is it not good enough to say “it’s for a good cause” but making the extra effort strengthens your case and can only increase the response to your efforts.

    Again, thank you so much for your reply. I’ll certainly be paying attention to the FIM’s work and look forward to perhaps supporting and promoting your work in the future.

    DrKev.

    1. Benoit Machuel

      Good point: I’ll include some information about the FAA regulation in the petition page.

      About change.org, my experience is that they do a good job and I am not aware of problems re. how they handle personal data. But just to make sure, we’ll have a deeper look into the terms of use.

      All the best,

      Benoît

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