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Ten Questions with MPTF Trustee Dan Beck

Dan Beck became the new Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) trustee in June. He is hard at work on a number of initiatives directed at bringing the MPTF up-to-date, including new grant processing software, website updates, and the launch of a Facebook page. Here he answers 10 questions about the state of the MPTF and his new role.

How are things going in your new role as trustee?
My new role as trustee for the MPTF has been a great experience thus far. The AFM membership has been very welcoming and I've gotten a lot of essential support and advice from both the AFM leadership and the record company oversight committee. Everyone has been supportive in finding solutions and strategies for building the long-term sustainability of the trust fund. I am especially thankful for the support and enthusiasm from the MPTF staff. They have embraced our challenges and are working with me on our new goals and aspirations.

Is the MPTF still struggling?
No, we were stabilized by the royalty audit settlement that the AFM and labels reached last year and those funds solved the immediate issues to keep the fund alive.

What about the long term?
We have to find answers for the long term. Although costs have been cut drastically over the past two years, we are still drawing down on our reserves. We need to bolster our revenues to re-establish the MPTF's enduring viability.

How can that get done?
The AFM leadership and the record labels will be working on some solutions to assure that our royalty revenues are maintained at a reasonable level. Although some digital royalties have been introduced to us, the negotiations will need to include a vision to help our purposes endure with benefits to each party for the long run. It is also essential for us to bring additional partners and sponsors to the table.

Is sponsorship really a possibility?
Yes, the activities and events that are supported by MPTF grants provide a powerfully credible avenue for corporate sponsors to demonstrate their commitment to the arts and communities across the US and Canada. Our cultural impact, our educational support, and our investment in the quality of life of our senior citizens are all extremely valuable to many businesses and industries.

How are you approaching it?
First, we are upgrading our internal systems. Our grant processing software is outdated and extremely cumbersome. It also provides extremely limited benefits. We cannot generate comprehensive events calendars or capture and evaluate important data regarding our co-sponsored events. We are currently in the process of ramping up a new system that will give us enormous support and information, and will be easier for the staff to manage. It will eventually tie in efficiently to an improved and updated website and also enhance our sponsorship activities. We have engaged a company that has developed a strategic approach to sponsorship and we are now in the hunt for the best partners we can find.

Will this new system affect the grant request process?
Yes it will. We will be asking for additional information to help us publish effective events calendars for the public and to make sure that the MPTF is properly credited for its role in making these live events a reality. We will be requesting additional information that can be helpful and attract potential sponsors. It will entail a little more work on everyone's part, but I don't foresee it being significantly more challenging.

Will there be other changes?
We will ask for a team effort in providing us with photos and videos of the events and ensuring that MPTF signage is present. This should have always been a priority, but when staffing was cut and other challenges arose, it became less of a priority. We have to return to the spirit of teamwork that can keep the MPTF an active force in providing supplemental work and funds to pay professional musicians. We have already begun these efforts on our website www.musicpf.org and on our new Facebook page (Music Performance Trust Fund). Please "Like" us!

When will these changes be implemented?
Hopefully, our new system will be up and running early in the New Year. We hope to have an initial sponsorship partner or two on board in the first half of 2014. We are going to carefully engage new partners, so that we comfortably integrate them into our lives in a supportive and unobtrusive way.

What's not changing?
The music! It's important. It's life-changing. And there is nothing like it performed by real pros! Let's work together to keep the wonderful legacy of the Music Per-formance Trust Fund alive and well.

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