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, 2020Dan Beck - Trustee, Music Performance Trust Fund
We are all missing live music dearly—and greatly missing those who perform it. Part of the Music Performance Trust Fund’s (MPTF) mission statement reads that we are to “contribute to the public’s knowledge and appreciation of music.” So in these days when it has become a great challenge to provide the MPTF’s resources for professional musicians to perform live and free to communities across North America, we determined that perhaps it would be most fitting to shine a light on our appreciation of those musicians.
How could we recognize and share a small piece of our funding with musicians without them performing? How were music families with college-aged children faring financially in the age of a pandemic? And who better to express the impact of these professional players than the young adults who grew up in their homes, hearing their countless hours of practice, growing up at their rehearsals, concerts, and gigs?
The idea arose to provide scholarships to students in professional music families. Both the AFM and our record label signatories’ Oversight Committee were immediately on-board with it. We sought to create an initiative that required a meaningful level of talent and mastery, just as our traditional and livestreaming performance grant initiatives do. The challenge for the students of professional musicians, and even the musicians themselves, was to write a 500-word essay that spoke to the experience, challenges, inspiration, and the lessons learned from growing up in a musical household. Our goal was to award 25 first-tier scholarships of $2,000 each and 100 second-tier awards of $500 each. Our plan was to distribute $100,000, if possible.
We had no crystal ball as to how our initiative would be received. Were the potential applicants out there? Could we get the word out through our own resources and through the union locals? The response was gratifying: 185 essays arrived within the six-week acceptance period. They came from 63 different local territories, across eight provinces in Canada and 30 US states. It was fascinating to discover that 96 of these students were following in their parents’ musical footsteps, while the array of career paths included 148 unique fields of study!
While the numbers are striking and impressive, the treasures we discovered were in the powerful words of these students reflecting upon their upbringing and the impact of their parents. They spoke of the countless hours of practice, of the passion, and the pursuit of musical perfection. They reflected upon their uniqueness, and sometimes the social challenge, as offspring of creative parents. They identified the teamwork and dedication that is essential for musicians, and the entrepreneurial skills these challenging careers often require and create.
We look forward to sharing their words, and hope that you will share them as well. There is a page on the MPTF website (www.musicpf.org/scholarship-awardees) with selected excerpts from these essays. They are inspiring and speak deeply to what personifies a professional musician. We will be exploring the possibilities of sharing their insights through the media in the coming weeks and months. These young men and women make us all very proud … and they are certainly proud of you.