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.
October 1, 2020Dan Beck - Trustee, Music Performance Trust Fund
The return of the traditional live music business cannot come quickly enough for musicians, music venues, and the people surrounding the entertainment world who derive their livelihood from it. Of course, that also goes for the music lovers who crave great live music experiences.
In March, when COVID-19 brought live music to a standstill, the Music Performance Trust Fund’s (MPTF) grant initiatives came to a screeching halt. As our staff contended with the explosion of the pandemic in New York City, we began to search for alternative approaches to continuing the live music experience and the benefits of our grants. We have proactively supported traditional live performances, while working with union locals to ensure that the events we do fund are done as safely as possible for the public and the musicians involved.
We also began exploring our ability to support livestreaming performances. Working with Local 77 (Philadelphia, PA), we organized three test events in May as we sorted out the application process, AFM scale issues, and copyright licensing restrictions. Spearheaded by Local 77’s vice president, Marjorie Goldberg, these initial concerts featuring just two or three musicians proved that our Facebook platform and the coordination procedures we established could work easily and effectively. Additionally, due to the challenges locals faced in securing co-sponsors during the pandemic, we expanded our grants to cover 100% of the costs.
Although the process for implementing these performances and securing the grants is relatively easy, the participation is still developing. As of this writing, only 15 union locals have taken advantage of the grant opportunity. Meanwhile, we have provided tech coordination and support to help the locals implement the simple process of livestreaming.
As COVID-19 continues without a clear end in sight, fall and winter weather will further restrict traditional live events. With that in mind, we encourage union locals to explore livestreaming opportunities further. Go to our Facebook page and watch a livestream event. The challenges are small, and we have tech support available to help your local to ramp up quickly to create revenue for your members.
The MPTF also launched the Music Family Essay Scholarship program this summer as an alternative means to distribute our resources. Over 180 student applicants have submitted essays highlighting the uniqueness, challenges, advantages, and inspiration that comes from growing up with parents who are professional musicians. Participation has come from a wide range of members in locals across North America. Scholarship awards totaling $100,000 will be announced in the coming weeks, as our judging panel completes its work.
While the COVID-19 challenges have been large and numerous, we applaud the efforts of those who have pursued the resources we have made available. We look forward to a brighter day, when we can again provide our grants in full, without the threat of illness and social distancing restrictions.