California’s AB5 & the Impact on Music

California's AB5 Amended to Protect Music Makers


The Recording Academy, its members, and other music industry stakeholders, successfully lobbied California’s Government to amend Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) to better protect musicians, songwriters, studio professionals and other individuals working in the music industry from the bill’s unintended consequences.  Learn how.

What is AB5?

Following the California State Supreme Court Decision in Dynamex, the California legislature passed Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) in September 2019, with the intention to regulate gig-economy workers like Uber, Lyft, and Doordash drivers, along with other independent contractors doing business in the state. AB5 changes classification requirements for independent contractors, enabling many former contractors to have access to labor protections, such as sick leave and workers’ compensation. The bill was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, and took effect on January 1, 2020.

As originally enacted, AB5 would have added untold costs for compliance, accounting practices, and new business expenses such as payroll processing to a musicians’ overhead— Recording Academy members of the Los Angeles and San Francisco Chapters had already experienced difficulties with the law, with many music makers considering the prospects of leaving California until a pro-music exemption was passed.

Securing an Exemption: Recording Academy and Others Lead Effort to Protect Music Makers

The Recording Academy worked with a coalition of artist and label organizations that were engaged with key stakeholders in California to successfully amend AB5 to exempt most music industry professionals. On April 17, California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and Majority Leader Ian Calderon, along with the industry coalition, announced agreed upon amendments to AB5 exemption for the music community that will provide relief to the vast majority of affected music professionals including recording artists, musicians, composers, songwriters, producers, engineers, mixers and vocalists. The negotiated amendment will exempt most music industry workers from the requirements of AB5 as it pertains to determining employment classification for both live performances and studio recordings. A vote on the music community exemption is expected to happen once the legislature reconvenes from their pandemic-related recess later this year.  

The Recording Academy worked to draft the amendment, negotiating alongside music industry stakeholders, lawmakers, and proponents of AB5. The Academy also hosted a panel discussion during GRAMMY weekend in Los Angeles with leading activists from the music and law communities to discuss the impacts and costs AB5 could have on California’s music ecosystem. Similarly, the Los Angeles and San Francisco Chapters of the Recording Academy were in constant communication with their members regarding the latest updates and advocacy opportunities.