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


Home » Music Performance Trust Fund » Change is Hard; Negotiating Change is Empowering

Change is Hard; Negotiating Change is Empowering

  -  Trustee, Music Performance Trust Fund

Throughout the 72-year history of the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF), the organization has consistently provided two fundamental services. Our support has meant that tens of thousands of free, live musical performances have echoed throughout North America, in small towns and major cities, in schools, in parks, hospitals, senior centers, malls, and wherever people have gathered. The MPTF has also provided fair compensation for those musicians who have brought their talents to their communities. It is quite a phenomenon that, without huge fanfare, tens of millions of dollars have been made available through collective bargaining to make these performances possible. 

The Trust Fund has seen heydays and low moments as it has coursed into its eighth decade. The basic grant-making process has not changed much since the first half-century of its existence. However, digital disruption nearly led to a slow death for the MPTF. Now, that same technology has come back to be the new lifeblood of revenue for our initiatives. Streaming revenue, again sourced through collective bargaining, provides over 95% of our revenue today.

And now, more change has come to force us to seek new avenues of operation. As live music performances came to a screeching halt in mid-March, we have now begun to ramp up free, live streaming performances. These events are organically performed the same as our traditional free live events, just delivered via a live streaming format. 

We have a production coordinator in place to help introduce union locals to our live streaming process, and we have recently named Natilyn Hepburn-Beaty as assistant grant manager. Natty will be available to guide our social media efforts to bring online audiences to these new performances. 

There are still many, many challenges in providing our traditional live event grants, as well as our live streaming grants, as health advisories are changing daily in different parts of the US and Canada. Obviously, our concern is not only for the safety of the audiences, but for the health and well-being of the musicians who are recipients of our grants.   

The MPTF is committed to finding alternative ways to bring our resources to professional musicians. We are currently wrapping up the entry period for our Music Family Scholarships. The application deadline has been extended to August 15, 2020, at 8 PM (ET)/ 5 PM (PT). The application requires a brief essay on the experience of growing up in a musician’s household that we hope will reflect the inspiration and impact of musicians upon their families and society. We hope to share the highlights of these essays later this fall, as we deliver the scholarship funds to dozens of children of professional musicians, and musicians themselves, to aid with college costs.

Change is hard. However, negotiating change is empowering. We still have challenges ahead in bringing our funds to communities across North America. We look forward to our collaboration with union locals to find creative solutions to bringing free, live music to the people.

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