Now is the right time to become an American Federation of Musicians member. From ragtime to rap, from the early phonograph to today's digital recordings, the AFM has been there for its members. And now there are more benefits available to AFM members than ever before, including a multi-million dollar pension fund, excellent contract protection, instrument and travelers insurance, work referral programs and access to licensed booking agents to keep you working.
As an AFM member, you are part of a membership of more than 80,000 musicians. Experience has proven that collective activity on behalf of individuals with similar interests is the most effective way to achieve a goal. The AFM can negotiate agreements and administer contracts, procure valuable benefits and achieve legislative goals. A single musician has no such power.
The AFM has a proud history of managing change rather than being victimized by it. We find strength in adversity, and when the going gets tough, we get creative - all on your behalf.
Like the industry, the AFM is also changing and evolving, and its policies and programs will move in new directions dictated by its members. As a member, you will determine these directions through your interest and involvement. Your membership card will be your key to participation in governing your union, keeping it responsive to your needs and enabling it to serve you better. To become a member now, visit www.afm.org/join.
June 1, 2022Jay Blumenthal - AFM International Secretary-Treasurer
The 2021 AFM audit has been completed. As in the past, the audited financials can be viewed within the AFM 2021 Annual Report, which has been uploaded to the AFM Members website. Using your AFM ID and password, log in and click on the Document Library tab and open the Financial Documents and Annual Report folder. There you will find the 2021 AFM Annual Report.
With so many musicians out of work last year due to pandemic restrictions, work dues income was negatively impacted. Additionally, some members were unable to maintain their AFM membership thereby reducing AFM per capita income. Also, visa consultation letter income was down nearly 70% at one point during 2021 due to pandemic travel restrictions. All these factors combined were an indication of a potentially large 2021 deficit.
The good news (surprisingly!) is that we posted a surplus! You may be asking how is that possible? Well, the anticipated deficit was partially mitigated by the Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan we received in the amount of $1,078,020 last year. This loan was used (as prescribed by the SBA) to pay AFM employee salaries. This loan covered salaries for approximately three months, helping to keep as many AFM US employees on the payroll as possible.
By using the loan in this way, we were eligible for full loan forgiveness, which occurred on August 13, 2021. (Yes, you’ve got it right, by using the loan as prescribed by the SBA, we do not have to pay it back!) This is all reflected in the financials. (See note #15 on page 34 of the financials for additional details.) The Canadian government also provided partial payroll assistance for our AFM employees who work in our Canadian Office in Toronto.
Both governmental pandemic assistance programs helped to reduce our 2021 operating expenses. This, along with taking every opportunity to reduce our other operating expenses, helped get us through last year’s crisis. Nearly all AFM travel was curtailed in 2021, thus eliminating most hotel, meal, and air travel expenses. Most AFM conferences were held virtually, which also helped to reduce operating expenses.
So that’s the good news. But we are by no means out of the woods. The Paycheck Protection Program ended last year and the work situation for musicians, while improving, has been rather inconsistent, very much dependent on the contagiousness and severity of newly emerging COVID variants. Unless we see a full recovery in work dues, membership numbers, and visa consultation letter income, we are likely to see a deficit for 2022. We remain very watchful over our operating expenses, keeping them as low as possible. However, inflation and the tight job market are upward pressures on our operating expenses that do not appear to be going away any time soon.
2021 Annual Report
The recently published 2021 AFM Annual Report contains reports from the AFM international officers and key AFM employees. It provides an overview of last year’s events and various topics, such as AFM membership, locals, legislation, and Union Plus benefits. The Annual Report is printed only in the year of an AFM Convention, but it is readily available every year for your review online at AFM.org by logging in as described earlier. I hope you will take the opportunity to review the report as it is full of information about our AFM successes and our activities during what was the most challenging year in our 126-year history.