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 www.afm.org/join.
August 31, 2020Pat Varriale - AFM Electronic Media Services Division Director
Over the years, the Electronic Media Services Division (EMSD) and the Symphonic Services Division (SSD) have consulted on certain electronic media projects involving symphony, opera, ballet, or chamber orchestras. This is because some projects have a tendency to “crossover” from a true symphonic nature to non-symphonic.
There are usually several factors in determining when an orchestra that has undertaken an electronic media project is deemed not subject to agreements administered by the Symphonic Services Division. Keeping in mind that there may be variations on theme that can change the outlook of a project, the factors are outlined as follows:
• The orchestra does not have a collective bargaining agreement with the AFM local in whose jurisdiction it is based.
• The orchestra is not eligible to become signatory to the Integrated Media Agreement or other applicable symphonic media agreement administered exclusively by the Symphonic Services Division.
• The orchestra does not have a tenured roster.
• The project is of a commercial nature and therefore not covered by a symphonic media agreement.
Even with the foregoing bullet items, as a general rule, when the EMSD is approached by either a symphony, opera, ballet, or chamber orchestra, or by a local officer, we will confer with our colleague Debbie Newmark, director of Symphonic Electronic Media, to ensure that the proper rates are offered.
Over the past few months due to COVID-19, the two divisions have been in consultation on even more projects to determine which department would oversee it and guide the AFM local having jurisdiction over the event. These projects are usually of the streaming variety. At the onset of the pandemic, the two divisions developed guidelines to enable orchestras and theaters to present performances during this time when venues are closed to live performances. These guidelines are outlined in previous issues of the International Musician. However, one such example is if the stream is a one-time live event and it is password-protected so that only subscribers or ticketholders can view the performance. Under non-symphonic conditions, there is no charge for the stream of the live performance.
I remember back in my early days at the AFM when our various agreements were far less complex and, prior to the existence of a director of symphonic electronic media, the EMSD handled all forms of symphonic electronic media as part of its operation. The first of many situations that comes to mind was seeking payment for members of the Pittsburgh Symphony for a series of radio broadcasts in Scotland while the orchestra was in residency. We would seek the input of the symphony department, but EMSD would administer the appropriate agreements. As things evolved, it was decided that our colleagues in the SSD would handle symphonic electronic media matters except for the instances marked by the bullet items above. This has worked out well as the workload in both divisions has grown significantly.
The folks in the EMSD have interacted with all divisions of the AFM, but none more than the SSD. There is a relationship there that has worked well and serves all musicians performing electronic services.