A Los Angeles singer leads the fight to fix AB5

Ari Herstand is a 35-year-old Angeleno. He’s a gig worker. Goes from gig to gig playing his guitar, recording music. His music video 'Retrospect' is his latest. 

It’s how he makes a living. But, when Assembly Bill 5 went into effect January first of this year - even before COVID-19 … life changed.

“Best of intentions by the lawmakers who passed it, voted for it… signed it by the Governor…ya know it’s supposed to help the little guy from the big bad corporations,” says Herstand.

But he adds there were big bad unintended consequences. Where he’d normally give band members a hundred or two hundred bucks AB5 required he incorporate himself, put the band on payroll, pay for health insurance... all of which would drive the cost into the stratosphere.

We’ve all heard about AB5’s impact on Uber and Lyft, but there are others reeling from AB5 who are independent contractors. New Assembly Bill 2257 fixes some of that.

It creates exemptions for some freelance journalists like:

  • still photographers
  • photojournalists
  • videographers
  • photo editors

It also exempts from the rules of AB5...

  • musical groups
  • musicians
  • marketing, promoting and distributing sound recordings of musical compositions

Herstand and others met with San Diego Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez. He says, “We also started a petition simultaneously that got over 185,000 signatures by California music professionals saying AB5 doesn’t work for us.”

Herstand says Gonzalez was already working on amending the controversial AB5 and asked him and other musicians to send language they think would work for them.

“We finally hashed out language to give the music industry an exemption,” says Ari.

AB2257 has passed the Assembly and now its up to the State Senate. 

In Retrospect, he’s glad he did what he did because, if approved by the Senate, thousands will benefit including himself which would be like music to his ears.