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.
December 1, 2022Alfonso Pollard -
The 2022 midterm elections are in the rearview mirror with some interesting developments. Republicans have declared control of the House of Representatives, whileDemocrats continue to fight for greater control of the US Senate, now held by a razor thin margin. Numbers are irrelevant at this writing as some states continue to count votes, though the general lay of the land appears to have been settled.
Outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced on the House floor that she will not seek a leadership role in the upcoming 118th Congress. She will, however, continue to serve the people of San Francisco. She encouraged members of the body to hold true to democratic principles and to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. She went on to underscore the principles of
e pluribus unum, out of many, one.
House Republicans elected Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as their new leader and potentially the next Speaker of the House. While in the Senate, Democratic members will hold leadership elections December 5 with incumbent leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) expected to pilot the chamber, barring any unforeseen anomaly. This while some Senate Republicans challenge current minority leader McConnell’s alleged mishandling of Senate elections and his fitness as the Senate minority leader.
For musicians and for the union, work continues on tax revision and performance rights in the “lame duck” session through the end of 2022. There’s still plenty of work to do before the new 118th Congress gavels in.
What does this election mean for professional musicians? The news is not all bad!
Your growing successful advocacy over the years has galvanized what was once a partisan grip on congressional and executive branch policy regarding the arts. You have helped get Congress to pivot and recognize the economic power that the arts and entertainment industries bring to the American economy. Because of that advocacy, you’ve placed a new, more aggressive, and powerful dog in the fight. Together, we have taught members in both chambers that you, as artists, are a force to be reckoned with. In this new Congress, let’s stay the course.
As a reminder, several catastrophic events over the past several years have impacted our industry and devastated our ability to earn as artists. But, we fought like champions and we’re on the rebound!
It actually started with the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and the loss of unreimbursed job-related expenses, interrupting our usual path toward tax parity. The loss of these write-offs, in some cases, threw musicians into a higher tax bracket than what was secured for us under the Reagan administration.
Remember, just like the 2022 Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade or Reagan-era tax deductions for artists, a hostile Supreme Court or Congress can effectively remove rights and statutes without consulting us.
The COVID pandemic, which has not totally abated, delivered a knockout punch to both entertainment professionals and arts patrons. The arts economy tanked and the onslaught of repressed social interaction and reduced funding forced theaters and other arts worksites to close en masse. The devastation to Broadway is the most obvious example.
However, there is indeed a bright side to the devastation with the hope that this newly divided 118th Congress will continue to see its way toward bipartisan support of arts and culture in the US.
Headed into Election Day, one traditional prediction appeared to come home to roost. With Democrats in control of both chambers, historically the party in control of the White House loses power in the House.
For the AFM, we can be proud of the powerful unified voice that musicians have used to help upright this train. Your participation in federal governance through voting and effective advocacy has led the House and Senate to be bipartisan in its approach to making artist creators whole again.
Tussles over federal arts programs have become a thing of the past, evidenced by passage of such important policy items as the Music Modernization Act, increased federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), pension reform, establishment of new bipartisan arts and entertainment caucuses whose bipartisan co-chairs fight for arts funding, bipartisan copyright and intellectual caucuses that focus on the rights of working artists (the bipartisan House Creative Rights Caucus), the newly created bipartisan Congressional IP Caucus, and several other hopeful congressional bodies that protect our rights as artists.
Stick with us! Your advocacy has made all the difference. Thank you for sharing your voice during the midterm elections, for your membership, and for your extraordinary leadership.
See you in January 2023!