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.
June 1, 2023Dan Beck - Trustee, Music Performance Trust Fund
The Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) fiscal year ended April 30, marked a huge leap in grant distribution, from $2.5 million to over $3.7 million. This 48% increase was another step in balancing the grant distribution proportionately with annual revenues. Grant funding has grown dramatically since the pivotal 2017 labor agreement between the major record companies and the AFM.
To achieve this distribution goal, we turned the faucet wide open by providing a diverse range of 100% grants, including Juneteenth, Black History Month, and Jazz Appreciation Month events. We also extended the same generous policy for MusicianFest (senior center/assisted living facilities), livestreamed performances, and Music in the Schools initiatives.
Several motivated and proactive locals came to us to ask for funding well beyond their established allocation. Fortunately, due to our aggressive approach to expanding grant distribution, we were able to accommodate all grant submissions that were deemed to be quality events for their communities. We had locals who received eight or nine times their original allocation! Along with the expansion of our grant budget, those locals further benefited from the allocations originally designated for the 57 union locals who chose not to apply for MPTF sponsorship.
As we move forward with the 2023-2024 fiscal year, which began May 1, we anticipate that streaming revenue from the recording industry will plateau. However, we expect to maintain, and even carefully exceed, the current level of grant funding and the $3.3 million budget we have established and communicated to each of the 175 AFM locals.
Approval for grants above a local’s allocation will be determined by the grant management team on a case-by-case basis, after the local has shown their spending plans for their original allocation. A local cannot ask for funds beyond their allocation before they spend what has been designated to them.
We have been fortunate to be able to say “yes” in virtually all cases. But now we must collectively begin to plan for when our revenue growth peaks. Should that come with more locals coming on board to claim their rightful allocation, it will reduce the MPTF’s capabilities to provide grants beyond each local’s equitable share.
However, no local officer should panic. Please be patient waiting for approvals as the grant management team calibrates the flow of our funds.
Now, let’s remember what we have all achieved together this past year. Total events funded increased from 2,545 to 4,039. MusicianFest nearly doubled, from 611 performances to 1,182. Music in the Schools returned to a vibrant level from just 167 to 528 programs.
Our special initiatives proved to be a huge success. It was our first year of spotlighting Black History Month with 85 performances in February. Juneteenth events were also a first for the MPTF with 72 performances marking that holiday, as well as Emancipation Day in Canada. In its second year as a featured initiative, 575 performances raised the profile of jazz as a beloved American art form throughout North America. Imagine the processing work our grant team has done!
This past year’s achievements also included the full restoration of a scholarship program that the Music Performance Trust Fund launched over 30 years ago. After implementing the Music Family Scholarships in 2020 as a supplementary funding source to AFM union families, the Music’s Future Scholarship debuted in 2022 to provide resources for music students with or without union affiliation.
The MPTF has returned to a level of grant distribution not seen in 20 years. Is there still growth ahead? Yes, and the biggest opportunity is to bring community co-sponsors back to the table. MPTF funds are a tool to leverage local businesses, chambers of commerce, city governments, other arts organizations, and parks commissions to support the value of live music. It is our collective goal to bring local sponsors back to the table in support of admission-free live performances.