A New Bill Loosens Strictures for Some Musicians and Other Freelancers

On September 9, 2020, San Francisco Classical Voice published an article quoting Employment and Litigation attorney, Yen Chau, on AB 2257 and what it means for local musicians and how it differs from AB 5.

“AB 2257 make numerous changes to AB 5, but retains two distinctive characteristics of AB 5.
First, the exemptions provided by AB 2257, like nearly all of those in AB 5, provide an exemption from the more difficult “ABC Test” established under Dynamex, but still require the application of the traditional test of independent contractor status under Borello. Second, the effects of lobbying are still clearly on display. Like its predecessor, AB 2257 contains exemptions for very specific, and seemingly random professions, from underwriting inspectors to salespersons of manufactured housing to professional foresters, to name just a few.

For persons in the music industry, the results of AB 2257 are interesting. AB 2257 provides a clear exemption for directors, producers, song writers, sound engineers, publicists, and other specified individuals working in the music industry, wherein the Borello analysis directly applies. For the musicians or vocalists themselves, however, the exemptions are harder to come by, and generally only apply if either the musician is covered by a collective bargaining agreement, receives royalties in connection to the work, or if the musician is performing at live, single-engagement events no more frequently than once a week.

Further, the exemption does not apply to musicians performing for a symphony orchestra, a large festival, or musical theater productions; in those cases, the much more difficult-to-satisfy ABC Test continues to apply.

AB 2257, therefore, does not provide any relief for the Bay Area’s many small symphonies that went dark in the face of a significant increase in costs associated with treating their performers as employees. California’s latest attempt to regulate the treatment of its independent workers have left some businesses scrambling to adjust, and others, completely frustrated.”

Read the full article, A New Bill Loosens Strictures for Some Musicians and Other Freelancers.