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


Orchestra News, ROPA, Symphonic Services Division

ROPA 2024: 40 Years Stronger Together

by Steve Wade, ROPA President and Member Local 400 (Hartford-New Haven, CT) In an article recently published in The Leading Tone, I wrote about a documentary called The Freeway Philharmonic, made in 2008 by Tal Skloot and Steven Baigel and broadcast on KQED in San Francisco. The film is an hour long, and modest in […]

ICSOM Musicians to Gather in Portland, Oregon

by Keith Carrick, ICSOM Chair and Member Local 104 (Salt Lake City, UT) I am thrilled to announce the 62nd annual International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) Conference, will take place in Portland, Oregon, August 21-24. This year’s conference will cover a broad range of issues, including focus on cultivating and boosting relationships […]

OCSM Conference to Be Held in Kitchener

by Robert Fraser, OCSM President and Member Local 247 (Victoria, BC) I write this column twice per year, in April and July. In addition to this, the Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM) secretary reports on our conference in the October issue. The April column usually comes right after our delegates share mid-season reports, so […]

Philly Orchestra Tours, but Under Protest

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s musicians boarded buses bound for a scheduled North Carolina performance tour “under protest,” despite what Local 77 (Philadelphia, PA) leaders called stalled contract talks, according to a union statement. The orchestra’s performances at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are the musicians’ first since their contract expired September 10. They […]

NYC Ballet Musicians Fight for Fair Contract

On the opening night of the ballet’s 2023 season, the Musicians of the New York City Ballet Orchestra (NYCB) organized a rally outside of Lincoln Center. Hundreds of musicians and supporters took to the sidewalks to demonstrate their support. The NYCB musicians’ contract has expired, and they are demanding compensation for the sacrifices they have […]

ICSOM Marks 61 Years and Counting

by Paul Austin, ICSOM President and member of Local 56 (Grand Rapids, MI) The 61st annual conference of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) will be hosted by AFM Local 8 (Milwaukee, WI), and the musicians of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO). The conference will be held from Wednesday, August 23, through […]

Quebec Musicians Achieve New Union Agreement 

For the musicians of the Orchestre symphonique de Québec (OSQ), ratifying a new AFM collective bargaining agreement on January 27 was the culmination of two solid years of hard work. The new four-year agreement marks the first contract negotiated in 15 years for the orchestra with Local 406 (Montreal, PQ), la Guilde des musiciens et […]

As Canadian Orchestras Recover from Pandemic Closures, OCSM Turns Attention to Four Areas of Concern 

As I’m writing this (mid-March) I am reminded that it’s the third anniversary of the worldwide shutdown of orchestras due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In my own orchestra, the anniversary went by unremarked, and with a near sold-out concert. But I am reminded, whenever I see a mask on stage or in the audience, that […]

Fort Wayne Philharmonic Musicians Prevail in 13-Week Strike 

Calling their first ever strike against the Fort Wayne Philharmonic was a difficult decision but musicians, members of Local 58 (Fort Wayne, IN), who firmly believed they had no choice. Nine bargaining sessions over more than three months had failed to move the employer from its onerous bargaining positions, which included the elimination of one […]

Fort Wayne Philharmonic Continues Strike with Rejection of Most Recent Offer

In mid-January, musicians for the Fort Wayne Philharmonic rejected the most recent contract offer from management. While the parties have reached agreement on wages for a four-year contract, the strike continues because management is demanding a number of changes to the contract that serve no immediate purpose but would severely undermine musicians’ rights during the […]

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