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


Michael Manley

AFM Organizing and Education Division Director

Working Musicians Bill of Rights

My career has gone from playing in orchestras, opera companies, and Broadway shows to arts administration, and of course, the labor advocacy, organizing, and education work I do here at the AFM. In these many roles, I’ve often been called to help musicians out of various problem situations. Sometimes I shake my head upon hearing […]

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The Union Difference, and Why It Matters

As our cover story this month illustrates, the lines between opportunity and employment are often blurred in the minds of working musicians. Whether we are “students” who are being paid less than professionals, or freelance musicians eager to take every opportunity, it is easy to rationalize that the details don’t matter, or that the connections […]

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The Recipe for Successful Organizing Campaigns

From Starbucks to Amazon to musical workplaces, the ingredients of a labor campaign are universal—and like any great recipe, there are no shortcuts. This year saw inspiring worker wins at two major—and notoriously anti-union—corporations: Amazon and Starbucks. And these workers did it themselves, outside the framework of existing unions, forming the Amazon Labor Union and […]

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What Is Organizing, Anyway?

Welcome to the first Organizing-focused issue of the International Musician. You may be familiar with the phrase “organizing is the lifeblood of labor unions,” but what exactly is organizing? Broadly, it is people joining together around shared issues to build collective power and win positive change. In my early career as a touring theater musician, […]

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Musicians of Chicago’s Teatro Zinzanni Win Union Recognition During COVID

In March, musicians performing with the Chicago Teatro Zinzanni dinner-and-show production successfully voted to form a union, with official results of the election certified on May 28. Teatro Zinzanni arrived in Chicago as a “proudly non-union” company. “When we were hired, we were told that Teatro Zinzanni worked hard to keep the union out,” says […]

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