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


Ed Malaga

AFM International Executive Board Member and President of Local 161-710 (Washington, DC)

All Theater Musicians Should Be Protected by AFM Contracts

The musical theater theme of this issue happens to dovetail nicely with my focus during much of this year, negotiating local theater agreements as the president of Local 162-710 (Washington, DC). Our local administers a number of contracts with area theaters. This year, we were able to add a new agreement to that list, which […]

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Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra/Local 161-710 Reject Disney Keycomp Request 

The agreement between AFM Local 161-710 (Washington, DC) and the Kennedy Center, covering the employment of the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra (KCOHO) for musical theater productions includes an article prohibiting the use of a virtual orchestra machine. This article has recently received the attention of the Disney Theatrical Group, which is bringing The Lion […]

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Theaters Must Keep Live Musical Performances Live

I was attending my first International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians(ICSOM) Conference in 2011 when I learned about the Theatre Musicians Association (TMA). Tom Mendel, who was TMA president, gave a report on TMA at the conference. Afterwards, I took the opportunity to introduce myself and ask his advice about starting a chapter in […]

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Local Leadership Should Help Musicians Organize from Within

On Monday February 7, the report to President Joe Biden from the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment was released. It is historically significant for organized labor. The task force is chaired by Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. The report begins: “The Biden-Harris Administration believes that increasing […]

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President Biden on the Worker Shortage: Yeah, Pay Them More!

While listening to the news on June 24, a sound clip from President Biden’s press briefing that day on economic policy caught my attention. In that clip, he said to the pool of reporters, “You were asking me, ‘Guess what? Employers can’t find workers! I said, ‘Yeah, pay them more!’ This is an employee’s bargaining […]

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Freelance Musicians Need Economic Relief

Freelance musicians working in live entertainment venues have been among the hardest hit by the effects of the pandemic. Although the nature of this work has always been precarious, the pandemic has exposed structural problems that have long existed and that leave freelancers exceedingly vulnerable—the recent difficulties in accessing unemployment benefits is only the latest […]

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Health and Safety of Musicians is Paramount for Return to Work

It is critically important that we engage with employers on this bedrock principle of unionism—workplace safety.

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