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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Symphonic Services Division

Advocating for Musicians Facing Possible Nonrenewal

Spring is a time of mostly happy associations for those of us residing in the Northern Hemisphere, as days lengthen, temperatures warm, and green returns to nature’s palette after the dark months of winter. But for some orchestra musicians spring brings with it what I now think of as “termination season,” when letters of nonrenewal […]


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 […]


Bringing Orchestra Diversity to the Forefront

This fall, the conversation around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in symphony orchestras has advanced through convenings by two relatively new initiatives: the Black Orchestral Network (BON) and the League of American Orchestra’s (LAO) Inclusive Stages. On October 21, BON held its first in-person summit in New York City. The day consisted of a series […]


ROPA Welcomed Delegates to July Conference

by Steve Wade, ROPA President and member of Local 400 (Hartford-New Haven, CT) The Regional Orchestra Players Association (ROPA) held its 40th conference in Atlanta, July 25-27. By all accounts the event was excellent. Highlights included the first appearance at a conference by then AFM International President-elect Tino Gagliardi and a keynote address by Dr. […]


2023 ICSOM Conference Travels to Milwaukee

by Laura Ross, ICSOM Secretary, Nashville Symphony, member of Local 257 (Nashville, TN) The musicians of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO) and the Milwaukee Musicians’ Association (AFM Local 8) hosted this year’s International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) conference at the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee, August 23-26. A volunteer event on Tuesday afternoon included […]


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 […]








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