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.
January 1, 2015IM -
by Dan Beck, Trustee, Music Performance Trust Fund
The Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) begins the new calendar year with continued awareness that we clearly share the same challenges that the rest of the creative music community faces. We pursue these challenges with new goals to maximize the opportunities that are available. Our mission remains to provide supplemental work for professional musicians, and at the same time, provide meaningful and inspiring free performances that culturally benefit people in towns and cities across North America.
As there remains constant pressure on our revenue, we have dedicated our efforts to reduce our costs, create efficiencies, and search for new avenues of support that improve and positively impact our ability to provide music performance grants. Over the past year, we have been developing a new grant management software system that will save overhead costs, provide greater insights and grant history information, and ultimately create an easier process for everyone involved. However, it requires some learning and repetitive input that we are confident our software provider will improve over time. Everyone using the system will discover improvements that have already been implemented.
Many of the performances we co-sponsor are perennial events. Traditional annual 4th of July concerts, a kick-off for an opera season, and the celebration of the music of Broadway, highlight the more than 2,100 musical partnerships that we shared in our past fiscal year. Our highest priority is to protect these traditional events that mean so much to the vibrancy of local culture.
We recognize that live music has an even deeper meaning beyond entertainment. The MPTF is dedicated to the fundamental importance of music education. Connecting professional musicians to school programs inspires cultural fiber, while it illuminates possibilities for students. It stimulates generational interaction and validates a commitment to excellence and cultural values.
As we partner with school programs, educators, and local musicians, we are reaching out to other like-minded organizations to find new strength for our efforts, not only in the search for increased resources, but for the potential impact of natural synergies. What could be more fulfilling than to work together to inspire young people to appreciate, enjoy, and participate in a musical experience?
Similarly, we are dedicated to the enormous value of musical performances to our older populous. Research demonstrates the emotional and cognitive benefits that a musical performance can provide to a small audience in an assisted living facility. I have heard countless stories from musicians who were humbled by the power of their performances to reach through isolation and bring renewed joy and life in these settings.
This important musical outreach needs to be advocated and deserves enthusiastic leadership. We hope to shoulder more of that responsibility. We are finding the support to dramatically expand our efforts in this critical area as well. I expect the MPTF to be able to offer new support through additional restricted grants in the near future.
Whether it is a big orchestral performance or a small solo event that we support, we do want something in return for our grants. We know that we inevitably get musical excellence and passionate art. That remains a very unique outcome of our grants!
Our challenge is to get the most from our co-sponsors in attracting an audience, impacting the community, spreading media awareness, and giving us the tools to expand the word about the value of these events. As the old adage goes, if a tree falls in the forest, does anyone hear it? If a musician performs brilliantly with free-access for all, what effort was made to assure there was the largest possible audience? What effort was made afterwards to make sure as many people as possible knew this event happened? When the good is promoted, greater support is possible. Leadership is about creating this momentum; momentum builds success.
We know the New Year comes with challenges. However, we look to 2015 with hope and optimism. That hope and optimism is guided by the confidence that we are committed to the work it takes to make our grants effective at the highest level possible. We look forward to sharing that challenge with the musicians and local organizations who partner with us in the year ahead. Let’s build some momentum together … and success will find us.