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


Electronic Media Services

Welcome to the Electronic Media Services Division Focus Issue

It is my honor to welcome you to this year’s issue of the International Musician focused on electronic media and the Electronic Media Services Division (EMSD). This division is charged with serving and protecting the interests of nonsymphonic recording musicians. (AFM Symphonic Services Division represents symphony, opera, ballet, and chamber orchestra electronic media projects.) Two […]

What Is a Yellow Dog Contract?

According to the Cornell Law School Legal Information Center, “Yellow dog contracts are agreements between an employer and employee in which, often as a precondition to being hired, the employee agrees not to become a labor union member or act in collaboration with other employees. There are both federal and state statutes outlawing yellow dog […]

Updated Information on Streaming Agreements

There is no denying that internet streaming is the fastest changing area in which Electronic Media Services Division (EMSD) administers agreements. While we attempt to always provide the most up-to-date information possible to musicians, local officers, and employers alike, the last thing we want to find is that someone has made decisions based on information […]

Film vs. TV Contracts – What’s the Difference?

If you have been following the ongoing strikes of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and SAG-AFTRA against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), you may wonder why some programs have halted production and others produced by the same companies have not. This may have to do with the scope of the […]

Electronic Media Guarantees

Negotiating season is in full force as AFM orchestras are in the process of bargaining successor collective bargaining agreements (CBAs). At the same time, the Integrated Media Agreement (IMA) has come up for renewal. The current 2019-2022 IMA term expires on June 30, 2022. The AFM will be bargaining the successor agreement with the Employers’ […]

Sidelining in Motion Picture Films

by Matt Allen, AFM Electronic Media Services Division Contract Administrator In films produced all across the United States and Canada, musicians are regularly employed by film producers for sideline work. Sidelining is when a musician is engaged to “mime” the playing of an instrument on camera, typically to a prerecording that is played back on […]

Film vs TV: How to Know Which Agreement to Use

by John Painting, AFM Electronic Media Services Division Assistant Director Let’s say you’re approached to contract musicians for a project that is going to end up on a basic cable network, like TBS or Lifetime, and the producer is asking about a potential budget for the musicians. You head to your local’s website and the […]

How to Future-Proof Your Music

by Carl Schilde, Canadian Federation of Musicians, Contract and Licensing Coordinator Since the dawn of the recording age, tens upon thousands of union contracts have been safely stowed away in dusty storage bunkers beneath the ice sheets of the northern Yukon—all in perfect chronological and alphabetical order. This is just so that, in the year […]

Getting Paid for Location Recordings Made While on Tour

by Pat Varriale, AFM Electronic Media Services Division Director and Assistant to the President One of the many types of projects the EMSD is involved with is musician recordings that take place at venues in the United States and are ultimately released as sound recordings.  The following narrative describes one case for which the EMSD […]

Work Under AFM Contracts Come Up Big During the Pandemic

During the pandemic, when very little original work has taken place, the resolve of musicians that recorded older material under AFM conditions is underscored. With the impact of COVID-19 shutting down original electronic media work, employers began looking for ways to produce new programming mixed with original content. As an example, with the canceling of […]