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, 2022Jay Blumenthal - AFM International Secretary-Treasurer
Happy holidays to all. I don’t know about you, but every passing year seems to go by more quickly than the one before. Where did this past year go?
We experienced some legislative successes in 2022 but there is still much work to be done in 2023. The mid-term elections have resulted in the Democrats holding onto their majority in the Senate (with a Warnock/Walker runoff election taking place on December 6) and the Republicans winning a majority in the House. It remains to be seen whether Democrats and Republicans can work together during the new Congress. There is some legislation affecting musicians that has some bipartisan support, so progress may be possible.
Legislative bills and other goals remain works in progress:
The American Music Fairness Act (HR 4130/S 4932) would establish a performance right for musicians when their music is played on terrestrial radio. This is key legislation that, if passed, will not only address fair payment to musicians for the use of their creative product, but it is also a necessary step to begin opening the door to payment from some foreign collectives when our music is played in other countries.
Performing Arts Tax Parity Act (HR 4750/S 2872) would re-establish the deductions for unreimbursed work-related expenses incurred by performing artists, which were lost during the Trump administration.
Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, if passed, would restore the right of workers to freely and fairly form a union and bargain together for changes in the workplace. Over the years, anti-union forces have eroded unions’ ability to organize workplaces free from employer interference.
The AFM has joined with other US Fish and Wildlife Service and US Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) stakeholders to address Brazil’s proposal to raise Pernambuco wood species from Appendix II to CITES Appendix I. At the 19th Conference of the Parties to CITES meeting in Panama, which recently concluded, US stakeholders hoped to devise a more reasonable international solution to Brazil’s proposal. Pernambuco wood is used globally to make bows for string instruments. Questions about the meeting can be directed to AFM Legislative-Political Director Alfonso Pollard, (firstname.lastname@example.org).
A significant achievement that occurred this past year was the confirmation of the first African American woman to the United States Supreme Court. This historic moment was long overdue. Though the court remains predominantly conservative, this confirmation is an important milestone. The newest associate justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson, has already made it clear that she will be an important and outspoken voice on the court.
Stubborn inflationary pressures are caused in part by government spending (used to ease the pandemic hardships on families); the sustained disruption of supply chains causing demand to outpace supply; and the high cost of fuel resulting from sanctions on Russian oil due to the invasion of Ukraine, as well as recent Saudi oil production cuts. The higher energy costs create increased transportation costs, which are passed on to consumers when they purchase goods and food. The Fed’s efforts to curb inflation by raising interest rates raises borrowing costs, including credit cards and mortgages. We seem to be experiencing an inflationary “perfect storm.”
This year saw musicians continuing their return to work. Broadway shows are open, touring shows are traveling, and the symphonic season is well underway. That said, the post-pandemic economic recovery remains agonizingly slow. The hope is that we will see economic improvement in 2023. Even perfect storms pass, eventually.