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 » It’s Time to Show Others What Our Union Is About

It’s Time to Show Others What Our Union Is About

  -  International Executive Board Member and President of Local 105 (Spokane, WA)

We have seen a lot of labor actions this past summer. Chances are they’re going to continue for a while. It’s driving meaningful changes to how all working people are perceived and valued. Seeing musicians supporting each other and supporting other union members by participating in leafleting and picketing is inspiring!

Activism is the heart of the union movement. I love the feeling of unity that comes with being on a picket line, or being part of an ensemble. As we know, a good ensemble requires commitment and organization, something that is generally well ingrained when it comes to our musical work. We have to be organized to piece together a life in music making. That gives us an advantage when it comes to union organizing. We just need to be willing and manage our expectations for perfection.

We have a window of opportunity now and there’s no real way of knowing how long that window will remain open. According to an August 25 polling report by public research firm GBAO, seven in 10 Americans support unions, and that transcends party lines. A majority of Republicans and more than two-thirds of independents, join nine in 10 Democrats in supporting unions. An unprecedented number of young Americans support unions. Nearly nine in 10 people under age 30 view unions favorably. These younger workers are driving the organizing of Starbucks and Amazon. So, what can this mean for musicians?

Musicians who enter the workforce by getting jobs in the symphonic world tend to become union members. Many who work in musical theater or certain types of recording eventually become union members. The freelance world is the toughest because of issues with defining an employer. My guess is that just about every musician has relied on some freelance work to piece together their living and has experienced unsavory conditions.

As musicians, and especially as union musicians, we should take an interest in reaching out and offering a hand up. Even if we don’t perform the same genres and styles, we can offer what we have learned about the music business: how union solidarity can impact our business by using contracts, creating scales, and demanding better working conditions. We can tell them about the power of members joining together to take on the battles at hand.

It comes down to the very basics of what unions are: groups of workers who join together around common goals and issues, pool funds, build consensus, and create opportunities along with better wages, benefits, and working conditions. We have to see ourselves as workers and get others to recognize us as workers. “Others” includes community musicians who play for fun, our workplaces, our communities, and anyone who makes decisions that affect us.

Local unions are the foundation, reinforced by the conferences and committees, which together inform and sustain the work of the AFM. The labor movement is going through an amazing revival and the time is ripe for us to make meaningful progress.

Thank you for your work!

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