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.
November 21, 2018Jay Blumenthal - Secretary-Treasurer
As many of you know, the deal to fulfill the AFM dream of owning a floor in a building in lower Manhattan to house our AFM headquarters fell through at the eleventh hour. Down to one last negotiation point, the seller made the purchase contingent on our buying two floors instead of one. This was not possible as a two-floor purchase was not in our price range and we simply did not need that much space. Since there was no other property for sale that met our space requirement and price point, we began looking at spaces to rent.
With our lease expiring, we need to vacate our current space. Our current landlord has made an attractive offer for space in our present building (1501 Broadway) on the ninth floor. (We currently occupy space on the sixth floor.) We have come to a meeting of the minds on the term sheet and are in the final stages of the lease negotiation. The lease under consideration has a term of 15 years and six months with an escape opportunity at 10 years.
The building at 1501 Broadway has a colorful and interesting musical history. Completed in 1927, it is better known as the Paramount Building because it served as the New York headquarters for Paramount Pictures. The building contained the 3,664-seat Paramount Theatre (opened 1926), which housed a large theater organ made by the Wurlitzer Company. Initially, the organ was used to accompany silent films.
In addition to films, the venue began hosting live music during the big band era. Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Harry James, Fred Waring, Xavier Cugat, Guy Lombardo, and many others played the Paramount Theatre. Comedians Jack Benny, Dean Martin, and Jerry Lewis performed as well. A few of you may actually remember the moment when Benny introduced a young Frank Sinatra at the Paramount to screaming, adoring fans. The adulation and screams took Benny totally by surprise because he had never heard of Sinatra. It created quite a sensation. In later years, Buddy Holly and the Crickets performed “Peggy Sue” at the Paramount.
Eventually, the theater was turned into retail and office space, which at the time housed The New York Times. The organ, along with its 36 ranks of pipes, was moved to a Wichita, Kansas convention hall. Today the old lobby of the Paramount Theatre houses the Hard Rock Café.
Recently the office building entrance was moved from Broadway, around the corner, to West 43rd Street. An old Paramount marquee was restored and placed atop the new entrance and an old but beautiful stained glass Paramount Pictures logo (pictured) was found in storage. It can now be seen while riding down the escalator when exiting the building.
The AFM has been in our current space for more than 30 years, so moving will be a challenge. We anticipate it will happen sometime during the first quarter of 2019. We hope to make the transition as smooth as possible. That said, there are bound to be some unexpected hiccups with such a massive move. We hope you will be understanding, if this happens.
Once we are settled in the new space, I hope those of you who find yourself in New York City will stop by for a visit. This is your “new home.” If my schedule permits, it will be my pleasure to give you a personal tour of the new office.