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


Officer Columns, Secretary-Treasurer

Ken Shirk – AFM International Secretary-Treasurer

The Mayan Calendar and Us

The Mayan calendar was said to “end” on December 21, 2012, and with it would come the end of the world. Or so said the Western societal New Age Q-Anon-ish popular belief. As that supposed doomsday drew nearer, I happened to be keeping company from time to time with a First Nations elder in Southern […]

[de]Generative Artificial Intelligence, Creators, and Us

Generative artificial intelligence (AI), a sinister triad of words, has captured the interest of policymakers everywhere this season. In the US, the world of copyright law has determined that machine-generative AI product cannot be copyrighted. The US Copyright Office is now busily hoovering up comments from interest groups about how it should think about AI […]

Artificial Sweeteners, Artificial Intelligence, and Us

The modern human is a strange species—particularly, the variety of the species that is intent on amassing wealth and goods far beyond what could possibly ever be needed for a comfortable existence. Our economic system has conditioned us to embrace and honor maximally extractive behavior to satisfy our continual quest for transient comforts in support […]

Complacency, Simmering Pots, and Frogs

Complacency is a curse. It’s a curse because it lulls us into a routine, diminishes our ability to see ourselves through the eyes of others, and siphons off our wherewithal to confront authority. It’s a curse because complacency is the mortal enemy of progress. Those of us who live within the comfortable walls of what […]

Secretary-Treasurer’s Message

The delegates to the 102nd AFM Convention this past June have spoken, setting the Federation stage for the next three years. I am honored and humbled to have been elected as one of those stage props. Over the past few decades, the AFM has been graced with a long line of dedicated international secretary-treasurers, and […]


This month’s column (July 2023) will be my last as your AFM international secretary-treasurer since I will retire at the end of the month. I must admit to feeling somewhat ambivalent about my retirement. While I look forward to the free time retirement affords, the idea of not working (having worked all my life either […]

Looking Back at Seven Years as AFM Secretary-Treasurer

For those of you who have not heard, I have made the decision to retire at the end of my term, which will be July 31. Therefore, this will be my penultimate column for the International Musician. This is the 83rd column I have written for the IM and my final column next month (July), […]

A Visit from the FIM Presidium

by Jay Blumenthal, AFM International Secretary-Treasurer Globalization has created the imperative for the AFM’s continued membership in the International Federation of Musicians or Fédération International des Musiciens (FIM). It has become increasingly important that the AFM has a seat at the table where conversations are taking place between musician unions around the world. Conversations include […]

What Is the Employee Retention Credit (ERC)? 

“The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) is a refundable tax credit for businesses that continued to pay employees while shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, or had significant declines in gross receipts from March 13, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2021. Eligible employers can claim the ERC on an original or adjusted employment tax return for […]

Updates from the Secretary-Treasurer’s Office

The first quarterly AFM International Executive Board (IEB) meeting will take place the week of March 27. Since the International Federation of Musicians (FIM) will be meeting at our New York Office, the IEB will have an opportunity to meet with FIM in the morning on Tuesday, March 28. Over the years, the AFM has […]