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

ICSOM Conference Went Virtual in July

Confinement, quarantine, social distancing, furlough, innovation, activism, creativity, and inclusion were all explored and discussed during this year’s International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) Conference held July 15-17 via Zoom. Rather than meeting in August with the Pittsburgh Symphony as our hosts, the ICSOM Governing Board decided that everyone’s health and safety was […]

Conferencing in the Time of Pandemic: 2020 ROPA Conference Report

Earlier this year, when it became apparent that “The COVID” would present challenges to getting dozens of Regional Orchestra Players Association (ROPA) delegates and guests from across the country on airplanes to fly to Orange County, CA (ROPA’s 2020 Conference site), the ROPA board decided a video conference would be the best way to proceed. […]

OCSM Conference in a Time of Pandemic

(français) The Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM) held its 2020 conference online for the first time from August 10-12 using the Zoom platform. Before diving into the conference topics, I should add that in addition to our three days in August, delegates also met online over three days in late May to give our […]

IN MEMORIAM: Chris Durham

When SSD Negotiator Chris Durham passed away on August 22, 2020 after a courageous battle with cancer, musicians everywhere lost a fierce advocate.

Bargaining for a Safe Return to the Symphonic Workplace

Some orchestral employers have started to plan various scenarios under which musicians might come back to work, e.g., through some combination of small ensembles, socially distanced audiences, and streaming of content. Some musicians are anxious to resume work, for reasons both economic and non-economic; others are justifiably concerned that in the absence of a safe, […]

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 […]