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.
September 1, 2022Jay Blumenthal - AFM International Secretary-Treasurer
While it’s still very early to make predictions regarding AFM finances, there are some early indications that we are at the beginning of a recovery. Though only a small percentage of new members join online, the online joins are showing a return to pre-pandemic levels. This is not necessarily a reflection of a similar return for new members who join an AFM affiliate local in the traditional way, but it is reassuring nonetheless. We are reviewing paid per capita forms submitted by locals to the Federation to see if the broader membership numbers are bouncing back as well.
Another positive indicator is the increased number of requests for visa consultation letters. This is indicative of an increase in touring. At one point during the height of the pandemic, these requests were down by 70%. Recently, requests for visa consultation letters have increased to pre-pandemic levels.
Live performances for symphonic musicians seem to have stabilized. Most orchestras have ended their regular season and are scheduled to resume in the fall. Pamphlet B musical touring seems to be holding up after an initial bumpy start. The recent BA.5 variant of the coronavirus has created issues due to its ease of transmissibility. The good news is that hospitalizations remain low.
As we enter the colder months, the concern is that indoor activity may cause a spike in the number of people who contract the virus. One potential mitigating factor might be the creation of a new COVID booster that is formulated to respond more effectively to the BA.5 variant. The booster may be ready sometime around November or December.
The potential increase in revenue comes none too soon since the need to travel for in-person conferences and negotiations has already begun. This is all happening during a period of high inflation. Until recently, coast-to-coast plane fares were commonly found in the $450 to $500 range. Today, the same flights cost over $1,000. Similar increases in ground transportation, hotel, and restaurant prices all contribute to an increase in the AFM’s operating costs.
We recently filled two openings at the Federation. Michael Epperhart has been engaged to handle visa consultation letter applications since Paul Celentano, who currently works in this area, will be leaving in September. Epperhart has been touring as a musician with Beautiful: the Carole King Musical. He has a practical understanding of our business. He also participated as a musician representative in the recently ratified Broadway League negotiations over revised COVID protocols. We wish Celentano all the best as he pursues the next chapter in his life and we welcome Eppenhart into the AFM family.
We have hired Jonathan Mercado as an IT assistant to work with Michael Ramos. This position opened when Walter Lopez left and Ramos moved up to fill the information systems manager position. We are now better positioned to address hardware and software issues that were postponed during travel restrictions at the height of the pandemic.
Our hope is that the work environment for musicians continues to stabilize, and the pandemic recedes to a point that it no longer affects member employment. Fingers crossed!