FTC Approves Final Order and Consent Agreement with American Guild of Organists

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Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a final order and consent agreement in which the American Guild of Organists agreed to eliminate rules that restrict its members from competing for opportunities to perform.

Announced in March 2017, the agreement between the FTC and the American Guild of Organists resolves the agency’s complaint that the guild’s rules restrained competition and harmed consumers in violation of the FTC Act. Under the guild’s code of ethics, if a consumer wished to have someone other than an “incumbent musician” play at a venue for a wedding, funeral or other service, the consumer was required to pay both the incumbent and the consumer’s chosen musician. The guild also developed and publicized compensation schedules and formulas, and instructed its chapters and members to develop and use regionally applicable versions to determine charges for their services.

The order requires the American Guild of Organists to stop restraining its members from soliciting work as musicians, and to stop issuing compensation schedules, guidance, or model contract provisions for members to use to determine their compensation. The guild must implement an antitrust compliance program, and is required under the order to stop recognizing chapters that fail to certify their compliance with the order’s provisions. The Commission recognizes the guild for taking steps to promptly comply with the proposed order and discontinue the identified practices at the earliest feasible time.

The Commission vote approving the final order was 2-0. (FTC File No. 141 0194; the staff contact is Karen A. Mills, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-2052.)

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