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


Traveling Musician

Dealing with Foreign Sales Tax

by Robert Baird, President Baird Artists Management (BAM!) My column “Getting Merchandise Across Borders” (October 2014 IM) prompted some questions on dealing with the sale of merchandise once you’ve gotten it into the country. We all know about “under-the-table” sales, but we should also be aware of the regulations regarding tax on merchandise—sales tax or […]

Revised Airline Travel Advice for Musicians with Instruments

For years, musicians have faced numerous uncertainties when traveling on commercial aircraft. Many have been refused boarding, while those trying to make connecting flights have had to settle for inconveniences in order to complete their journey. In some cases, musicians have had to make the choice between stowing rare, expensive, and often irreplaceable musical instruments […]

It Takes More than Just a Passport: Preparing for Foreign Gigging

by Michael Manley, AFM Touring/Theatre/Booking and Immigration Division Director and Assistant to the President  In a landscape where an artist’s big break can take place on YouTube as often as in a concert hall or club, musicians can reach an international audience with a few swipes of a tablet screen. Jazz artists and indie bands […]

Be Prepared to Cross Borders for Showcases, Competition, or Other Business

by Robert Baird, President Baird Artists Management (BAM!) Artists often ask if they can cross a border freely to do a showcase, enter a competition, or for other business purposes. Sometimes it is possible to do so without a visa or to use a different form of visa. Every artist needs to adopt the Boy […]

Getting Merchandise Across Borders

by Robert Baird, President Baird Artists Management (BAM!) Travelling across the US/Canada border requires declaring to a customs officer what you are bringing with you. Personal items are exempt from duties and taxes. Bringing in goods or merchandise makes you an “importer” and you will definitely have to declare any items you intend to sell. […]

Dealing with Withholding Taxes

It comes as quite a surprise to some musicians to find that the fee they expected to receive has had a portion withheld: 30% in the US and 15% in Canada. Tax withholding is required for nonresidents in both countries, but there are ways to avoid it. Here are two recent letters: Dear Crossing Borders, […]

Getting Musical Instruments Across Borders

by Robert Baird, President Baird Artists Management (BAM!) Many musicians have been surprised at the border and unprepared when border officials asked them for information about their musical instruments. Musicians usually take it for granted that the instruments are the least of their problems in crossing borders.

Do You Need a Visa When Crossing the Border?

Robert Baird, President Baird  Artists Management (BAM!) Do you need a visa? The short answer for musicians traveling to the US to work is, yes, you do need a visa; for musicians coming to Canada to work the answer is, possibly, depending upon your nationality.  Visas that allow a musician to work in the US […]

Crossing X Borders: The Basics of Immigration for Touring

Welcome to a new column in International Musician that will focus on the complexities of international touring in North America. It will assist AFM members form the US touring in Canada and Canadian AFM (CFM) members touring in the US.