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 » Happy Anniversary — On Our Journey Toward Increased Democracy

Happy Anniversary — On Our Journey Toward Increased Democracy

  -  AFM International Secretary-Treasurer

We are celebrating our 125th AFM anniversary. It is a great source of pride to know that we belong to a venerated union with such a long and distinguished history. There were, however, some growing pains as we evolved into the democratic union we have become. One very important steppingstone on our journey toward increased democracy was the creation of the Player Conferences Council (PCC) and later the Locals’ Conferences Council (LCC).

Many readers of the International Musician may not be familiar with the LCC/PCC, which meets annually, except for years in which an AFM Convention takes place. This year the LCC/PCC met August 21 and 22, at the Westgate Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was the first official in-person AFM meeting since the start of the pandemic.

Player Conferences Council

The PCC began in 1990 after several serious concerns were expressed to the International Executive Board (IEB) by the player conferences. There was a history of poor communication between the IEB and the player conferences and true union democracy seemed to be severely lacking. The IEB engaged William Roehl, former assistant director for the Department of Organization and Field Service at the AFL-CIO in Washington, DC, to study the issues, provide guidance, and create a report that would address the player conferences’ concerns.

The resulting report was a powerful document offering guidance on how communication could be improved and how the union democracy concerns should be addressed. The report redefined the Symphony Department and the Recording Department, which became the Symphonic Services Division and the Electronic Media Services Division. Some AFM structural changes were necessary to implement the full Roehl Report, which provided a road map for positive change. (See “The Roehl Report: Redefining the AFM’s Relationship with Its Player Conferences,” International Musician, October 1990.)

The Roehl Report offered several changes that provided the player conferences with “more institutional access to the AFM and the International Executive Board, more status within the AFM, and equally important, more effective input into the Symphonic Services Division and the Electronic Media Services Division.”

Before the Roehl Report, there had been a Summit Committee composed of ICSOM, OCSM, ROPA, and RMA principal officers. The Summit Committee was renamed the PCC and the report proposed real structural changes that fundamentally transformed the relationship between the player conferences and the AFM. The TMA was granted conference status by the IEB and joined the PCC on December 5, 1997.

To this day, the Roehl Report is the underpinning for how our union operates. It effectively helped us avoid a schism between the player conferences and the AFM that, at the time, posed an existential threat. It is one of many reasons why we are still here to celebrate our 125th anniversary.

Locals’ Conferences Council

At the AFM Convention in 1995, the Professional Musicians of Texas submitted Resolution No. 38 to the Convention’s Joint Law and Finance Committees. The resolution proposed that locals should have a degree of influence within AFM leadership that was commensurate with the increased revenue they send to the AFM.

The Joint Law and Finance Committees proposed substitute resolution No. 38. It RESOLVED, “That the duly elected delegates to the 1996 Conference Conclave shall be known as the ‘Locals’ Conference Council.’ At the 1996 Council meeting, the Council shall determine what the future role of the Council shall be, and its relationship to the International Executive Board of the Federation. In addition, the Council shall draft legislation to be presented at the AFM’s 1997 International Convention, which shall determine the frequency and scheduling of its meetings and address other issues relating to its structure.”

The Convention delegates adopted the committee report, which resulted in AFM Bylaws, Article 22, section 16(a): “A Council shall be formed consisting of one elected representative from each of the then-current Locals’ Conferences, which shall be known as the Locals’ Conferences Council (LCC). A Council shall be formed consisting of one elected representative from each of the then-current Player Conferences, which shall be known as the Player Conferences Council (PCC). The purpose of these Councils is to exchange information and ideas on appropriate subjects regarding the good and welfare of the AFM, its Locals, and its members.”

Today the LCC and the PCC meet with the IEB to discuss various issues of concern. These meetings represent increased communication, access to leadership, and have served to improve democracy within the AFM. The significance and impact of the Roehl Report has been profound and continues to guide the AFM as we celebrate our 125th anniversary.

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