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.
December 1, 2018Alan Willaert - AFM Vice President from Canada
In a recent article by Tim Ingham for Rolling Stone, some startling statistics pointed to further erosion of the music model of the past, as consumption patterns continue to swing further toward single tracks. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), album sales in the US for the first half of 2018 (including downloads, CDs, and vinyl) were down 25.8%, compared to a year earlier. If that trend holds for the full year, album sales will be half of what they were in 2015, or in terms of dollars, down by half a billion dollars compared to last year.
The CD album is bearing the brunt of this damage. After a comfortable 6.5% drop in sales in 2017, in the first half of 2018, revenues generated by the CD album in the US were slashed nearly in half—down 41.5% to $246 million.
2018 will go down as a landmark year for the acceleration of the decline in physical album sales. Meanwhile, some of hip-hop’s biggest names released hotly anticipated new LPs, but exclusively on digital services for the first week. Physical formats were made available only after the initial rush was over. This new approach speeds the demise of not only the CD, but also brick-and-mortar retailers.
Before we get too mired in what that ultimately means, it’s interesting to note that this is not the case worldwide. In tech-savvy Japan, for instance, physical sales still account for 87%. It seems the Japanese, much like Canadians and Americans of yore, still want to feel the product in their hands, view the artwork, read the lyrics and other jacket information, and then display it prominently in their home. However, it’s only a matter of time before they too yield to the ease of playlists.
Another telling statistic lies within the release of Drake’s album Scorpion, the hottest recording in the US this year, which is an astounding 25 tracks long. The lion’s share of the streams on Spotify come from only three tracks. What does that mean? Is it possible that, as the industry returns to the pre-Beatles era of track-led consumption, fans are being encouraged to develop a less-committed relationship with the artist? Has the industry, in its zeal to monetize streaming to the max, sacrificed something more valuable that it could have realized? And in their rush to rack up streams, have the artists forgotten about pacing an album, or creating a beginning to end experience, in favour of recording more “filler content”?
On October 13, the UK music business launched a nationwide campaign called National Album Day, as the major labels, independents, and music retailers, with radio coverage from the BBC, pushed to encourage album sales through public awareness. Incredibly, UK album sales fell slightly during that week, the strongest bellwether yet of what the music industry has done, in its collective, corporate-minded greed. It has turned the work of musical artists into virtual store-shelf trinkets, single-packet items stacked at the end of the aisle for immediate clearance.
At this time, I would like to extend best holiday wishes for peace, love, and solidarity to all our members and their families, from the entire staff of the Canadian Office. May 2019 be productive and prosperous for all of us in the labour movement.