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 » If 2020 Gave Us Anything, It Is a Lesson in Adapting

If 2020 Gave Us Anything, It Is a Lesson in Adapting

  -  Trustee, Music Performance Trust Fund

How many times will we say or hear, this week or over the coming months, how happy everyone is that 2020 is behind us? We all know the extreme toll the challenges of the past 10 months have taken on musicians and their families, financially, physically, and emotionally. Although we have not yet escaped the ravages of the virus, and are still running this gauntlet, we may finally be seeing some glimmer of light ahead.

As the Music Performance Trust Fund’s (MPTF) fiscal year began on May 1, and as live music was virtually shut down, we were scrambling to determine if there was any way for us to operate and distribute our grants. The technology and legal issues in establishing a livestreaming platform were unknown to us. Getting answers and developing a process that was as streamlined as possible was daunting. However, the MPTF’s staff has made us proud because of their teamwork, problem-solving, and coordination with union locals across North America. We learned the specifics about streaming licensing and how to use social media platforms effectively. We quickly established an agreeable license developed by the AFM. We brought on extra staffing and expert technical assistance to make it work.

We have participated in and facilitated over 200 livestream performances. It’s still a band-aid, but it is real progress. At this point in our year, 27 locals have sought and received our livestream grants, and have organized and coordinated all these new events. If 2020 gave us anything, it is a lesson in adapting. We congratulate everyone’s efforts to make music and to be safe in doing it!

As we look ahead, we know that patience is going to be one of our biggest challenges. Everyone needs the financial resources. Everyone wants to perform again. Many are struggling.

We hope that musicians and their locals will continue to engage in our streaming events during the coming months. It is no longer a mystery. It is an added grant opportunity that may possibly be there long after the virus is gone. Even as we remain in the throes of this pandemic, the MPTF is preparing itself for our 2021-22 fiscal year, beginning on May 1, 2021. We believe there will be a resurgence of traditional live music performances and a new appreciation and celebration of the meaning, value, and connection between musicians and their audience. The world needs you!

As the faint light at the end of this long, dark tunnel gradually grows brighter, we all need to tell the world that live music is coming back. It will be celebrated. It will be appreciated, and you will be appreciated more than ever. Now is the time to talk to those potential community co-sponsors. Give them the vision of what live music can be again and how they should be a part of it. While we all continue to fight through the worst of this virus and even as some will attempt to cut funding even more, there are new partners out there who will thank you for bringing the confidence of a coming recovery. And the MPTF will be there with greater funding possibilities to leverage those partnerships.

Live music will be the world’s reward. How could we celebrate a renaissance without it?

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