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


Organizing, Recent News

State AFL-CIO Conventions Pass Resolution for Entertainment Contracts

This year, Oregon, Washington, and Illinois State AFL-CIO Conventions have all adopted resolutions requiring affiliate unions to hire union performers and use union contracts for entertainment.  In 2005, a SAG-AFTRA resolution passed the Oregon AFL-CIO convention, requiring affiliate unions to hire union performers—including musicians—and use union contracts. But, over the past decade and a half, […]

Working Musicians Bill of Rights

My career has gone from playing in orchestras, opera companies, and Broadway shows to arts administration, and of course, the labor advocacy, organizing, and education work I do here at the AFM. In these many roles, I’ve often been called to help musicians out of various problem situations. Sometimes I shake my head upon hearing […]

The Union Difference, and Why It Matters

As our cover story this month illustrates, the lines between opportunity and employment are often blurred in the minds of working musicians. Whether we are “students” who are being paid less than professionals, or freelance musicians eager to take every opportunity, it is easy to rationalize that the details don’t matter, or that the connections […]

We Must Be the Change We Need

I often hear certain themes from local officers and committee members when talking about organizing: people just don’t want to join, it’s too difficult, people aren’t showing up for meetings, etc. The repetition of these negative affirmations can make it seem like organizing is a magical thing that only a certain few people can achieve. […]

The Recipe for Successful Organizing Campaigns

From Starbucks to Amazon to musical workplaces, the ingredients of a labor campaign are universal—and like any great recipe, there are no shortcuts. This year saw inspiring worker wins at two major—and notoriously anti-union—corporations: Amazon and Starbucks. And these workers did it themselves, outside the framework of existing unions, forming the Amazon Labor Union and […]

New Initiatives Toward a Brighter 2022 for Freelance Musicians

by Wages Argott, AFM Director of Freelance Services and Membership Development Let’s talk about 2021, our first full calendar year under the shadow of COVID-19. I, like everyone else, finished 2020 grateful that my family and I were alive and healthy and we all still had roofs over our heads. I gave little thought to […]

2021 YEAR IN REVIEW — In Unity, There Is Strength

January The Riot on Capitol Hill On January 6, a violent mob of President Donald Trump supporters sought to overturn his defeat in the 2020 presidential election by disrupting the joint session of Congress assembled to formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. On January 7, AFM President Ray Hair issued this statement: “The American Federation of Musicians of the United States and […]

Musicians Return to the Pit as Touring Shows Reopen

by Tino Gagliardi, AFM Director of Theatre, Touring, and Booking Division It’s been a long time coming, but after 18 months, Broadway’s touring shows have finally reopened. Officially, the pandemic has not been declared “over,” but touring musicians, on-location musicians, stagehands, and production crews are returning to work. In 2020, 23 AFM-covered touring productions were […]

Time to Ask “The Question”

by Dave Pomeroy, International Executive Board Member and President of Local 257 (Nashville, TN) Over the past few decades, even before the pandemic, almost everything about the way we make records has been transformed. Hit recordings are being made in bedrooms and basements as well as big commercial studios. Music consumers have more choices than […]

What Is Organizing, Anyway?

Welcome to the first Organizing-focused issue of the International Musician. You may be familiar with the phrase “organizing is the lifeblood of labor unions,” but what exactly is organizing? Broadly, it is people joining together around shared issues to build collective power and win positive change. In my early career as a touring theater musician, […]