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 » Officer Columns » Election, Livestreams, and AFM Budget

Election, Livestreams, and AFM Budget

  -  AFM International Secretary-Treasurer

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have been projected by AP, CNN, and Fox News as the winners of the recent US presidential election. At this writing, the counting of ballots continues in some states and lawsuits are being prepared and filed contesting this outcome.

We have now entered the lame duck session of Congress. An 11th hour pandemic stimulus negotiation between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin prior to the election failed to reach an agreement on a new round of economic stimulus. It is hoped that a post-election deal can be made quickly. Many musicians continue to struggle financially as they await a return to work. Hopefully, by the time you read this column, Congress will have taken action. Hopes for an effective vaccine were buoyed in early November when Pfizer announced preliminary results suggesting their vaccine’s effective rate is in the ballpark of 90%! Fingers crossed.

MPTF Livestreams

In the meantime, the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) is stepping up to help musicians by making funds available for virtual livestream performances. To help generate this work and get money into the hands of musicians, the normal financial burden on the co-sponsor has been eliminated. MPTF will subsidize your livestream event at 100%!

You will need an employer of record (which cannot be the local) who can run the payroll and you will need a venue. In most cases there is no audience, but in a few cases, small audiences have been allowed depending on health regulations in the state and community where the streaming events will be generated. MPTF will ask you for validation that everyone in attendance will be following these regulations and guidelines. Keep in mind there can be no admission charge for anyone in attendance.

The cost of doing the payroll, statutory taxes, and tech costs can be included in your proposal to MPTF so there should be no cost to the employer of record. While there is some paperwork that needs to be completed, there is very helpful guidance to be found at the MPTF website, If this is your first time working with MPTF, or even if you are a seasoned veteran, MPTF will walk you through the process and hold your hand if necessary from beginning to end.

Contact Samantha Ramos at at the Music Performance Trust Fund for more information.

AFM Annual Budget

We are entering the time of year when we put together the annual AFM budget. Never before have there been so many unknowns. When will musicians be able to return to work in a meaningful way? (This affects local and Federation work dues revenue.) When will world travel and governmental regulations return to normal, allowing touring groups entry into the US? (This affects the number of requests for visa consultation letters and the revenue it generates for the AFM.) When will symphonic orchestras resume audition notices in the International Musician? (This affects AFM ad revenue.)

The AFM International Executive Board (IEB) is tasked with creating a balanced budget each year. Zoom meetings have significantly reduced AFM travel, meals, and hotel expenses for negotiations and regional conferences. This helps to offset our severely compromised revenue streams. The longer the pandemic impacts musicians’ ability to work, the more AFM revenue will be adversely affected. There is no way of knowing when AFM revenue will normalize, so budgeting must be very conservative.

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