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


Rochelle Skolnick

AFM Symphonic Services Division Director

Advocating for Musicians Facing Possible Nonrenewal

Spring is a time of mostly happy associations for those of us residing in the Northern Hemisphere, as days lengthen, temperatures warm, and green returns to nature’s palette after the dark months of winter. But for some orchestra musicians spring brings with it what I now think of as “termination season,” when letters of nonrenewal […]

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Bringing Orchestra Diversity to the Forefront

This fall, the conversation around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in symphony orchestras has advanced through convenings by two relatively new initiatives: the Black Orchestral Network (BON) and the League of American Orchestra’s (LAO) Inclusive Stages. On October 21, BON held its first in-person summit in New York City. The day consisted of a series […]

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No Substitutes for Unity and Solidarity

As I write this, I am still resonating—and recovering—from the AFM’s 102nd Convention. For senior staff, the convention envelope involves about 12 long days in Las Vegas, the first part of which is devoted to attending AFM International Executive Board meetings and other convention preparation. Delegates begin to trickle in a few days before the […]

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Don’t Buy into the Scarcity Narrative 

In late January, the Sphinx Organization held its annual SphinxConnect conference in Detroit, Michigan. This year’s conference celebrated 25 years of the Sphinx Organization, which is dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. Each year since 2018, I have attended the conference with an AFM contingent that included International Conference […]

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2022 Brings New Season of Negotiations for Tireless AFM SSD Staff

As I write this, the summer of 2022 is winding down and I am still feeling the resonance of attending the annual meetings of all three symphonic player conferences in person for the first time since 2019. In this issue, the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM), Regional Orchestra Players’ Association (ROPA), and […]

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Moving Forward in a Post-Pandemic World

Over the past 28 months, I have gauged the progress of the pandemic by the kinds of questions arriving in my inbox. I will never forget the palpable panic in the very first round of questions I received from local officers, committees, and musicians back in March 2020. Questions about things like musicians’ rights to […]

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Resilience, Renewal, and Our Future in Labor

But what has unfolded over these past two years has been far more complicated than any of us imagined and the notion of a post-COVID world has given way to one in which we learn to live, uneasily, alongside a devastating disease that has shown its ability to upend our plans again and again.

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Update from the SSD Director

Find out what has been going on in the Symphonic Services Division amidst COVID-19 with this update from the SSD Director Rochelle Skolnick.

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Bargaining for a Safe Return to the Symphonic Workplace

Some orchestral employers have started to plan various scenarios under which musicians might come back to work, e.g., through some combination of small ensembles, socially distanced audiences, and streaming of content. Some musicians are anxious to resume work, for reasons both economic and non-economic; others are justifiably concerned that in the absence of a safe, […]

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Musician Compensation Is Possible – and Essential – Even When Performance Is Impossible

Collectively, as musicians we are enduring a chapter of our professional lives more painful than any we have ever before experienced. We have been exiled from concert hall stages and orchestra pits and sent into solitary confinement in our home practice studios. Our incomes and our identities as musicians are suddenly precarious. Our contact with […]

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