California's Gig Worker Law Punishes Independent Musicians and Rewards the Politically Well-connected with Exemptions

The California Gig Economy law which sounds like a well-intended safety net for independent workers will end up harming many independent musicians and artists.

San Jose Jazz is best known for producing our large Summer Fest which brings tens of thousands of visitors and requires hundreds of temporary roles to execute. 

The vast majority of previously contract work roles will now be required to be employees. 

For instance, we are required by the City of San Jose to hire off-duty police officers through their Secondary Employment Unit program to insure a safe and well-run festival. Under AB 5 we will be required to classify these moonlighting officers as San Jose Jazz employees with the attendant oversight and administrative requirements. 

Typical of such legislation, AB 5 comes with a hefty list of exempted categories that are a Who’s Who of the politically connected and well-funded: lawyers, doctors, accountants, brokers, builders, and others. 

Actors, choreographers, dancers, directors, producers, and musicians are among numerous roles in the performing arts that exhibit a multitude of contract work arrangements. None of these are exempt from AB 5’s rules. 

The cultural sector is full of various work arrangements, some as employee others as contractor, that have evolved over decades to accommodate artist’s unique crafts and artistic products and services. AB 5 runs roughshod over all of these arrangements. 

Beyond the financial, legal, and administrative mess created by AB 5, communities face even more profound threats from the new law. Segments of our cultural and civic life are at risk of going out of existence.

This is the kind of government over-reach that turned me into a libertarian.  Don't musicians have a hard enough time making money now that streaming has mostly replaced buying music?  Many could still make money from performing, but now it appears they will have to work for somebody else if they want a job.

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