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


Symphonic Services Division

No Substitutes for Unity and Solidarity

As I write this, I am still resonating—and recovering—from the AFM’s 102nd Convention. For senior staff, the convention envelope involves about 12 long days in Las Vegas, the first part of which is devoted to attending AFM International Executive Board meetings and other convention preparation. Delegates begin to trickle in a few days before the […]

Challenges and Opportunities

We all work in environments where change is a constant part of the equation. But how does this affect the symphonic community? We see a considerable amount of turnover in management positions on an annual basis, we have changes to our orchestra committees in accordance with player association bylaws, and there are also changes to […]

Joining the Union—What’s in It for Me?

by Jane Owen, AFM Symphonic Services Division Negotiator I realize I’m preaching to the faithful here. If you are reading this article, you are probably a union musician, and interested enough to learn more about your union’s structure, inner workings, and ability to help you as a professional musician. But you may have been asked […]

What’s Behind a Winning Campaign?

by Todd Jelen, AFM Symphonic Service Division Negotiator/Organizer/Educator Most of us followed the coverage of the musicians of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic and their three-month strike from December to March. They achieved a great win by maintaining their solidarity through tremendous adversity and by employing varying actions and tactics to achieve their goal. Those on […]

Only Parties to a CBA Can Make Amendments — Let’s Keep Doing What Works

by Bernard LeBlanc, AFM Symphonic Services, Canada, Directorand Richard Sandals, AFM Symphonic Services, Canada, Associate Director In the AFM Symphonic Services Division (SSD), we get a lot of questions—often from management, but sometimes from a member, a local, or an orchestra committee—that remind us of a question you might have heard several million times from […]

ROPA Summer Conference

by Steve Wade, ROPA President and member of Local 400 (Hartford-New Haven, CT) It’s that most wonderful time of the year: conference season for all of the AFM’s player conferences. By the time you’re reading this article, the Regional Orchestra Players Association (ROPA) will have concluded its 40th Conference, held July 25-27 at the Courtland […]

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 […]

Ain’t No Stoppin’ the Hot Labor Summer

by Adam DeSorgo, AFM Symphonic Services Division Negotiator Chicago has historically been a stronghold for labor. From the Haymarket Affair in 1886 that crystallized the campaign for the eight-hour day, to the Chicago Teacher’s Union strike in 2012, this tradition continues to the present day. Labor has one of its own as the mayor of […]

Don’t Buy into the Scarcity Narrative 

In late January, the Sphinx Organization held its annual SphinxConnect conference in Detroit, Michigan. This year’s conference celebrated 25 years of the Sphinx Organization, which is dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. Each year since 2018, I have attended the conference with an AFM contingent that included International Conference […]

Moving Forward in a Post-Pandemic World

Over the past 28 months, I have gauged the progress of the pandemic by the kinds of questions arriving in my inbox. I will never forget the palpable panic in the very first round of questions I received from local officers, committees, and musicians back in March 2020. Questions about things like musicians’ rights to […]