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

OCSM’s First Online Conference a Success

en français The year-round activity of each of the AFM’s Symphonic Player Conferences—the collection and sharing of information and the fostering of communication among bargaining units, their locals, the AFM, and industry partners—culminates in an annual conference, held every summer. As you’ve seen reported here many times, the annual conference of the Organization of Canadian […]

ROPA Notes: Annual Conference and Returning to Work

The 37th Annual Regional Orchestra Players’ Association (ROPA) Conference will be held online this summer. Dates and times will be adjusted for online virtual meetings, but we expect much of the conference will be held during the originally scheduled dates of July 27-30. We hope that by having the conference online, many more ROPA orchestra […]

Examining Our Orchestral Culture

We have reached a moment in our American democratic experiment where some very difficult and painful truths have been laid bare. The advent of the coronavirus has torn away the scrim that allowed us to soft-focus on—and avert our eyes from—the many social and economic inequities that exist in our society. The disproportionate number of […]

Reinvention of Live Performance?

by Bernard LeBlanc and Richard Sandals, Director and Associate Director, AFM Symphonic Services, Canada When we were told in March to close concert halls and put everything on pause, we all understood the urgency of the situation, but few of us expected things to be as serious as what we have faced since then. Our […]

Internal Organizing During COVID-19

There is a lot of information in this issue about how we are working to adapt to what is, hopefully, a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. It would be easy to just take it in and, as an orchestra committee or local officer, start bargaining. We should not forget, however, the often-overlooked process of internal organizing before we […]

Symphonic Media in a Pandemic

The symphonic community entered a dark age the week of March 9, 2020. Over the course of that week, concerns dramatically increased about the new coronavirus and its spread. Walking through Penn Station each day on my way to work in Times Square was frightening. As the week progressed, musicians were sent home, concerts were […]

Bargaining Variances and Returning to Work

As the arts industry begins a slow recovery from the devastation of COVID-19, we face an uncertain future. Recovering from the recession of 2000 or the great recession of 2007, we knew there was a way out once we hit bottom. We were just not certain of how significant the cost. The difference between the […]

Virtual Negotiations Offer Challenges and Advantages for Organizing

Just as the workplace for musicians has changed from concert halls to virtual rooms, meetings for orchestra committees and contract negotiations have converted from face-to-face deliberations to virtual conversations. Whatever your choice of online meeting space, whether Zoom, Webex, Skype, FaceTime, or Google Meet, these platforms offer both challenges and advantages for organizing and negotiating […]

Musician Compensation Is Possible – and Essential – Even When Performance Is Impossible

Collectively, as musicians we are enduring a chapter of our professional lives more painful than any we have ever before experienced. We have been exiled from concert hall stages and orchestra pits and sent into solitary confinement in our home practice studios. Our incomes and our identities as musicians are suddenly precarious. Our contact with […]

Update from the SSD Director

Find out what has been going on in the Symphonic Services Division amidst COVID-19 with this update from the SSD Director Rochelle Skolnick.