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.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE AFM



Home » Officer Columns » A Couple of Things


A Couple of Things

  -  AFM International Secretary-Treasurer

Musical Equipment Insurance Program Update

In February, I gave an update on the search for a replacement carrier for the AFM’s instrument insurance program. AIG/New Hampshire, the previous carrier, pulled out of the business at the end of 2023, offering one-year renewals only to those participants whose policy dates fell earlier than December 31, 2023. Those with renewal dates later than December 31 would not be renewed. This only applied to US participants. Instrument insurance for Canadian members is offered through a different broker, HUB International, and that coverage continues undisturbed by the developments with the US program’s carrier.

For US members participating in the program, the wait for a new carrier has been long, and, for those with policy renewal dates in January, February, or March, perhaps a bit harrowing. I was informed in late February by our US group benefits broker, AMBA, that they had located a new carrier, and that coverage would be available in April. Subject to final confirmation, I’m informed that the premium rate multiplier will be a little cheaper, although the minimum premium will be a bit higher. We’ve been promised that notice will be sent to all participants shortly, and those whose policies have already expired will be offered coverage “retroactive” to their renewal date.

I trust that this will prove to be good news for all, but the uncertainty of the past few months has served as a wake-up call not to get caught in this kind of a bind ever again. Musical equipment insurance is a core component of any professional musician’s economic life and cannot be taken for granted.


Freelance Musicians Player Conference

My office recently received a request signed by about 40 local union officers asking that the International Executive Board to approve the creation of a player conference for freelance musicians. Article 22, Section 15, of the AFM Bylaws sets forth the underpinning for the request:

“Conferences … composed of representatives from Symphonic Orchestras or of member- musicians in other specialized fields (“Player Conferences”), may be organized and granted official status in the AFM by the [International Executive Board] IEB.”

Current player conferences of the AFM include International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM), Regional Orchestra Players Association (ROPA), Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM), Recording Musicians Association (RMA), and Theater Musicians Association (TMA). Each of these player conferences has special and unique characteristics that bind their respective constituencies together. ICSOM generally includes higher-budget orchestras, where the musicians are working more or less full-time throughout their performance season. OCSM includes all the Canadian orchestras. ROPA includes medium-budget orchestras, where the musicians may or may not be working full-time throughout their season. RMA includes several local chapters and musicians who are intent on making their living under AFM-negotiated electronic media agreements.

Through their delegates, AFM-recognized player conferences have enhanced access to the workings of the Federation: an official voice (but not vote) at AFM Conventions, an expectation for their leaders to meet annually with the IEB and to serve in an advisory role when the IEB is considering business that directly impacts the workplaces represented by the conferences, and to meet annually in nonconvention years under the auspices of the joint meeting of the Local Conferences Council-Player Conferences Council (LCC-PCC).

The request to authorize the creation of a freelance musicians conference is unique. Unlike other player conferences, this request does not come from rank-and-file members, but from local officers. Further, unlike the other player conference members, freelance musicians can’t be generally categorized as working for one particular type of employer. In our industry, the word “freelance” is a very big tent. Identifying the workplace commonalities that would bind a conference of freelance musicians together to express their common interests to the Federation will be no small task.

Freelance musicians—however defined—represent the largest population of musicians in North America. Deciding whether and how to silo them into this particular aspect of Federation structure will be one of the most interesting and challenging intellectual and organizing exercises of this decade.







NEWS