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 » Exposure, Promotion, and Protection

Exposure, Promotion, and Protection


Dave-Pomeroyby Dave Pomeroy, AFM International Executive Board Member and President of Local 257 (Nashville, TN)

The empty promise of “exposure” is often used to convince musicians and artists to give away what they spent a lifetime creating. As I have said many times, exposure is still not accepted as payment at the grocery store! “Promotional” is another commonly used term that seems to mean whatever the person using it wants to mean. Too often, the real meaning is “we’re going to make money off this, but you won’t.”

How is your time worth less because someone else profits from it? This is a question that needs to be asked, but sometimes the fear of losing a gig makes it difficult to stand up for yourself.

So how can you make headway and survive in a world that is trying to diminish the value of what you do? That’s where the AFM comes in. You can go it alone and take your chances, or you can let us help you. That’s what this organization has been doing for more than a century.

Without the collective bargaining agreements we have negotiated with the record, film, TV, radio, jingle, and theater industries, there would be no standards of pay and working conditions. The “can I get that for free?” attitude is not the first challenge we have faced. Music has value in our culture and society that goes beyond mere dollars and cents, and the AFM continues to fight to protect your rights in ways you may not even be aware of.

Did you know that, when you are on tour and your performance is recorded, whether audio, video, or both, you are entitled to an additional payment over and above what you are being paid to play the concert? Many touring musicians do not know that this additional payment is appropriate, and don’t think to ask for it.

We also have an Internet streaming agreement that covers “live in the studio” promotional appearances that pay over and above what you are making from the artist. Record labels will pay this rate, but only if they are asked to do so. If you are proactive, we can help you get what you deserve. So, don’t be afraid to speak up and let us know what’s going on so we can advocate on your behalf.

If you played on a record that was used in another medium, such as film, TV, or a jingle, you deserve to be paid again. We recently got Geico to pay the musicians who worked on a Roy Orbison song recorded more than 50 years ago for its use in a new TV commercial. The players involved, and in some cases, their beneficiaries were very happy about this, but it only happened because it was originally recorded under an AFM contract and we were able to go to bat for those players.

Our legislative efforts in Washington, DC, do make a difference, whether it is fighting for your right to carry an instrument onto an airplane or urging the passage of the Fair Play Fair Pay Act to establish performance rights for AM/FM airplay. But, if you get involved, it takes it to a whole new level.

We will always be stronger when we are united in our purpose of promoting respect for musicians. You are not alone, and we are here to help you. Let’s work together to make a better life for musicians and a better world to live in while we’re at it!

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