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 » International Musician, Updated for Today’s Musicians

International Musician, Updated for Today’s Musicians

  -  former AFM International Secretary-Treasurer

As the publisher of the International Musician, it is my duty to update you on the progress of some of the directives and recommendations set forth by the International Musician Committee, led by Gary Sironen of Local 56 (Grand Rapids, MI), at the 2013 AFM Convention. Among the items detailed in committee’s report and adopted by the convention delegates was the following:

The International Musician Committee believes it is time for the IM to take the next step: the IM must become more easily and quickly available to members by being published in a wider variety of formats and platforms. In a year when we as a union have taken major steps to make the organizing of musicians a priority and proclaim organizing as necessary for our very survival, we believe it is also time to make the IM more relevant and useful to today’s greater diversity of musicians, who record, perform, promote themselves, and communicate in a digital world. It is also time, as one of our committee members put it, to use the IM to help organize the public, to take our message to the streets, to help the public understand and empathize with our causes, to let the consumers and uses of our product know what we do and produce has value and is a necessity in almost every facet of society.

Among the committee’s recommendations, based on these statements were for the AFM to purchase or share a booth with the IM staff at future Winter NAMM shows in order to promote the AFM and IM to potential advertisers, subscribers, and member musicians; as well as the development and implementation of a complete, digital, online version of the IM, together with phone and other digital apps, in order to advance the outreach, organization, diversity, and membership of the AFM.

I’m pleased to report that many improvements have been made over the past few years to make your official AFM journal more useful and relevant to the times. This publication continues to be a primary source of information and a tool for communication as it has been for nearly 100 years. However, it has evolved to meet the needs of a changing music industry.

The redesigned website, launched last year, provides a platform for viewing the magazine’s informative articles on a wide range of devices, plus up-to-date news and items of interest to musicians, not found in the print version of the magazine. A fully digital subscription of the IM is also available for those who would like to “go green” and save the AFM the printing costs.

Now musicians can also interact through the International Musician’s YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. On the International Musician YouTube page, members and the general public, can hear other union members talk about membership and also learn about new products. For example, take a look at member Rayse Biggs of Local 5 (Detroit, MI) recorded at this year’s NAMM show (

Unfortunately, the AFM Working Musician Connection e-newsletter, announced last month, has been put on hold by the IEB until the AFM hires a communication director.

Would you be surprised to learn that, although the IM is provided to all members, only $2 of each AFM member’s per capita is designated to the cost of publishing the IM? Of course, the actual cost of producing this publication is much more. In recent years, I have worked diligently with the IM staff to cover more of the costs through advertising. To that end, the staff of the International Musician travels to NAMM shows each year to network with potential advertisers.

Today’s advertisers like to spread their advertising budgets over multiple media formats, combining print and online advertisements. The updated IM website allows us to subsidize the IM through banner ads on the site. Another way to secure additional revenue for the International Musician is through paid subscriptions to nonmembers. One recent strategy has been to reach out to college libraries at music schools through a postcard campaign launched last month. So far the results have been encouraging.

Not only are the above upgrades valuable in terms of usefulness to our current AFM members and attracting advertisers, they are also valuable recruitment and organizing tools to promote AFM membership to nonmembers. It is only through these types of enhancements that we can use the IM to help organize the public and take the AFM story to the streets.

“The pen is the tongue of the mind.” —Horace

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