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


Home » Officer Columns » Be Thankful and Optimistic This Holiday Season!

Be Thankful and Optimistic This Holiday Season!

  -  AFM International Secretary-Treasurer

The holidays are upon us! As we continue to struggle with challenges—the San Antonio Symphony musicians’ strike, inflation, supply chain issues, port delays (unloading goods), truck delivery delays, postal service cutbacks, and the slow crawl back to live musical performances in theaters and other music venues—there is still much to be thankful for this holiday season.

Some positive COVID-19 developments:

  • The rate of hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 are down and headed in the right direction.
  • Effective vaccines are available for those 5 years old and up. Booster shots may soon be available for everyone 18 years and older, without restrictions.
  • Vaccine mandates (though some find them controversial) have motivated more people to get vaccinated.
  • COVID-19 testing is more readily available.
  • An effective COVID-19 medication may soon be available for those who contract the virus.
  • Negotiated COVID-19 protocols in the theaters appear to be working well.

Labor is finding strength:

  • For now, labor seems to have leverage at the bargaining table. Unions are fighting for quality of life improvements and higher wages.
  • Domestic travel is taking place and our borders are open to those who are fully vaccinated. This should make it possible for concert tours to resume.
  • Live music is slowly emerging from its long hiatus. As venues open, musicians are filled with emotion as they return to work after 20 months of pandemic-related closures. Thankfully, audiences are willing to attend and those that do, have made clear their joy to be back by welcoming musicians with thunderous applause.

The AFM New York headquarters has been functioning well since we officially returned to the office last June, though we remain closed to visitors for now.

AFM Diversity, Legislative, and Political Director Alfonso Pollard is busy in our AFM Washington, DC, National Legislative Office working toward the passage of the Performing Artist Tax Parity Act, sponsored by Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), and Vern Buchanan (R-FL). 

As explained on the website “This bi-partisan bill would update the Qualified Performing Artist tax deduction to help artists deduct work-related expenses. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 mostly eliminated the ability to claim miscellaneous itemized deductions that used to allow performing artists to deduct their work expenses. Elimination of the deductions has caused many artists to pay thousands more in taxes. The proposed legislation would correct this problem by updating the thresholds of the Qualified Performing Artists Deduction to enable more lower and middle-income performing artists to claim it.”

Passage of this bill would be very helpful to many musicians by restoring some of the deductions we were once able to claim on our tax returns.

Work continues on the passage of the American Music Fairness Act (H.R. 4130) that would provide royalty payments to musicians when their music is played on terrestrial radio. One would think that the passage of this bill would be a no-brainer, but powerful forces have previously argued against similar attempts to fairly compensate musicians.

Both bills are at critical junctures. We will be calling upon musicians (once again) to make their voices heard by writing their Senators and Representatives in support of each bill’s passage.

I truly believe there will be better days ahead in 2022, allowing more musicians to return to work and providing opportunities to make music with their colleagues. This will go a long way toward improving mental health and financial well-being, while simultaneously strengthening local and Federation finances.

Lastly, I hope you were able to enjoy a more normal Thanksgiving holiday this year. Please, do take time to enjoy the remaining year-end holidays with your family and friends. Wishing all of you happy holidays and a healthy and prosperous new year!

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