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.
March 25, 2015Ray Hair - AFM International President
By the time you’ve opened your snail mailbox, retrieved this issue of the International Musician, and perused this month’s column, our newest addition to Federation staff, Rose Ryan, will have begun her important work. In fact, odds are that, if your membership profile includes a current e-mail address, you’ve already sampled her work firsthand in our new e-newsletter, rendering the news items I’ve outlined below as old news.
As our new Communications Director, Rose will develop, implement, and manage a new Federation strategic communications plan through social media, press and public relations, and internal messaging. She will also provide outreach assistance for organizing and membership recruitment campaigns.
Rose joins the Federation with years of experience as a coordinator of communications for numerous Connecticut elected officials, and as a community outreach director, where she developed strategic messaging skills and mobilized individuals to support various public initiatives. Her strong labor background and experience as an organizer for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) make Rose a great fit for our team.
Watch for our new weekly electronic newsletter, where we’ll deliver a more immediate awareness concerning issues that advance ongoing membership interests. Following are a few items you’ll be hearing more about:
Star Wars Episode VII to be scored in Los Angeles. Despite reports to the contrary, legendary LA-based composer and Local 47 member John Williams will record the film score for Star Wars: The Force Awakens in Los Angeles this summer. The decision to record in LA is a departure from past practice, which saw previous installments of the franchise scored in London. Estimated to generate $2 million in wages, fringe benefits, and other production spending, keeping the score AFM is also a boost for the Hollywood film scoring community, which has suffered from an increase in offshoring of TV and film scoring during the past several years.
New Performance Rights Bill set to debut April 13. Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) will introduce performance rights legislation in the US House of Representatives April 13 that will address the inequality and unfairness faced by professional musicians, vocalists, and featured recording artists because of the lack of a performance royalty for terrestrial radio. The US is the only industrialized nation in the world that does not have a performance right for sound recordings when broadcast over terrestrial radio. In 2014, SoundExchange and the AFM & SAG-AFTRA Fund distributed more than $750 million in digital performance royalties to copyright owners, featured artists, session musicians, and background vocalists. Terrestrial radio accounts for 81% of the listening audience with Internet radio’s share at 11%, followed by satellite radio at 8%.
AFM extends Times Square lease. The Federation will keep its headquarters offices at 1501 Broadway in New York City through January 2019 under a lease extension that will see minimal annual rent increases and permit the continued improvement of cash reserves dedicated toward relocation. An IEB-designated Relocation Fund was fully replenished earlier this year despite deficit spending prior to 2010, which nearly exhausted the fund. The Federation expects to report additional financial improvements for the year 2014, the fourth consecutive year of positive fiscal results from oversight and policies of the current International Executive Board.
Riviera to be razed, AFM Convention moves to Westgate Hotel, Las Vegas. The Riviera Hotel and Casino, which has hosted each AFM Convention since 1989, will close May 4, following its sale to the Las Vegas Convention Center. The 60-year-old landmark will be demolished to make way for additional convention space. The Federation has contracted with the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino (formerly the Las Vegas Hilton) to accommodate the 100th AFM Convention, scheduled for June 2016.
Cable TV negotiations open March 25. The Federation will commence discussions in New York City on March 25 with content providers and production companies toward successor agreements covering musicians who perform live and prerecorded variety shows on basic and premium cable television. Predecessor agreements, which expired late last year, will continue in effect until a new agreement is reached. The Federation’s cable TV agreements cover musicians appearing on Conan, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremonies, MTV Music Awards, Black Entertainment Television Awards, Country Music Television, and other similar shows.