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 www.afm.org/join.

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Member Profiles

Blues Guitarist JW-Jones Says the Pandemic Helped Him Appreciate His Union

Canadian blues guitarist JW-Jones joined the AFM nearly 18 years ago, primarily for the visa assistance when touring the US that membership offered him. He has been a member in good standing ever since, but, honestly, he says, he has taken his union for granted. The COVID-19 pandemic and the shutdown of the music industry, […]


Elaine Douvas


Getting Off the Ground Through Music—And Staying There Elaine Douvas fell in love with classical music as a first grader in ballet class. The “Sleeping Beauty Waltz” by Tchaikovsky made her spirit soar, and by age seven she knew she wanted to be a professional musician. She started on piano, changed to violin, and in […]




Freelance Percussionist Chihiro Shibayama Says Community is Key to Success

As an Asian woman, freelance percussionist Chihiro Shibayama of Local 802 (New York City) feels a certain sense of responsibility working in a male-dominated field. “I am definitely aware of my status,” says Shibayama, citing a recent statistic of how few female drummers hold Broadway chairs in theater pits. “To be fair,” she adds, “that’s […]


Akua Dixon


Composing the flavor of her cultural heritage Jazz cellist and composer Akua Dixon has been playing music professionally for nearly 50 years, with world-class musicians at venues around the globe. One thing she has learned—and one thing she believes—is that you are what you hear. “The music I compose is a product of all my […]




Kate Foss

Boston Musician Kate Foss Lays Down the Foundation on Tuba and Bass Aside from sharing the same clef, you’d think the tuba and the upright bass couldn’t be any more different. You’d be wrong. According to Kate Foss of Local 9-535 (Boston, MA) and Local 802 (New York City), both allow her to do what […]


Anna Maria Mendieta

Classical Harpist Treads New Paths Playing Tango Anna Maria Mendieta has no trouble recalling the dayspring of her lifelong love affair with the harp. At age five, her arts-loving parents (her mother was a pianist and accordionist; her father played classical guitar and saxophone) played a recording of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, and the overture […]


Rachel Nesvig

Hardanger Fiddler Rachel Nesvig on Finding Her Niche and Learning to Let Go Rachel Nesvig was 16 years old the first time she truly experienced the music of a Hardanger fiddle, the national folk instrument of Norway. “I remember sitting on a pillow on the ground and being maybe three feet away from [educator] Karin […]


Alex Acuña

For Drummer Alex Acuña, His Storied Career Has Been a Mix of Talent and Opportunity Some say the term “living legend” gets tossed around a little too often. But when you’re the drummer of choice to lay down the beat behind household names for more than half a century, the title is not only accurate—it’s […]


Bass Clarinetist and Activist Beverly Setzer Believes Unions Help Both Sides

Most musicians involved in unionism can point to a moment that clearly illustrates why they believe in the power of organized labor. For clarinetist Beverly Setzer of Local 76-493 (Seattle, WA), that moment came shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic. “Back when we were still playing live performances, I worked at a jazz club in Seattle,” […]


From Jazz to Tango, Violinist Jeremy Cohen Plays Fearlessly

If your tango isn’t tinged with mugre, explains violinist Jeremy Cohen of Local 6 (San Francisco, CA), it will lack depth.








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