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


Home » Officer Columns » Executive Board Members » The Too Much Information Age

The Too Much Information Age


The downside of the information age is that far too often there is just simply too much information. The constant barrage of images, data, and noise coming at us from every angle makes it an ongoing challenge to extract the meaningful from the trivial, but that is exactly why music, art, and creativity still matter.

The nuance, power, and emotional resonance of a great orchestra in a magnificent venue is an audiovisual experience that cannot be duplicated on a computer, or in any other way for that matter. It will never go out of style. Without musicians to bring it to life, a concert hall, no matter how beautiful, is silent and cold. So are the hard drives and tape machines in a recording studio, until the magic that happens when musicians come together to make a record. These endeavors have significance and value, and despite many attempts to devalue them, the lasting impact of music on our culture is undeniable. Live music has continued to thrive because it is an experience that people crave and are willing to pay for.

In our high-tech world, the business of being a professional musician is increasingly challenged by the attitude that music should be free. The majority of musicians are individual entrepreneurs who are not only expected to perform at a high level, but also have to take care of business at the same time. This is where the AFM comes in. We can help you establish value for what you do. The concept of intellectual property may sound lofty, but in the digital age, it is a basic right that proves that your creativity and performance has value. Satellite radio pays performance royalties that are growing every year, distributed through SoundExchange and the AFM and SAG-AFTRA Fund. The AFM’s work to collect performance rights royalties from foreign collectives is starting to bear fruit as well.

The AFM’s collective bargaining agreements are proof that our employers need what we do and are willing to pay for it. These agreements are our line of defense against those who will gladly take advantage of musicians who buy into the concept that the exposure they get for working for less than they deserve will somehow pay the bills or help them in the long run. This is made all the more complicated for musicians who consistently try to do the right thing and are then forced to compete against musicians who will gladly undercut a friend or colleague for a few bucks. This “race to the bottom” mentality works against everything the AFM stands for. The shortsightedness of those AFM members who work against, rather than within, our contract parameters, not only hurts themselves, but all of us. Education and raising awareness are essential to prevent this destructive behavior.

One recent example of the staying power of an AFM contract occurred earlier this year. The 2014 Super Bowl featured a yogurt commercial with a Bob Dylan song from the album Blonde on Blonde, recorded in Nashville in 1966. The company paid Bob Dylan, Columbia, and the music publisher, but no one bothered to inform them that the seven musicians on the track also deserved to be paid. We contacted them, brought their inadvertent omission to their attention, and a few weeks later, those musicians received an additional payment for the work they performed 48 years earlier. That’s why it matters to take whatever steps are necessary to protect your work by filing an AFM contract. As I have said to many people over the past few years, if the AFM doesn’t have your back, who does?

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