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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.

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Home » Officer Columns » New RMALA President to Serve L.A.’s Diverse Musician Community

New RMALA President to Serve L.A.’s Diverse Musician Community


I am grateful for this opportunity to introduce myself, write on behalf of the Recording Musicians Association Los Angeles (RMALA) members, and to provide some perspective on RMALA to all the members of our union.

This past spring, RMALA President Pete Anthony stepped aside after years of distinguished and successful service. In September, the executive board of RMALA appointed me to fill the presidency until our next elections, and I have been working hard to get up to speed on issues and initiatives that are of concern to musicians in Los Angeles and throughout the country.

Los Angeles is a huge city made up of a diverse population with varied interests. The diversity and the immense area that defines the city creates an equally large, diverse musical culture. Musicians in our community perform in orchestras, chamber music groups, recordings of every type, theater, ballet, opera, night clubs, restaurants, and arenas, as well as teach at all education levels. While this is by no means a complete list, it is a way to know that musicians in our community do not work in isolation. Through these varied employment opportunities Los Angeles musicians derive their income from varied sources, work under many local and national agreements, and support our union with the dues paid under those agreements.
Members of RMALA are also members of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM), the Theater Musicians Association (TMA), and the Regional Orchestra Players Association (ROPA). As a result, we have some awareness of the demands, challenges, and expectations of our colleagues elsewhere who work in these various forms of employment.

I mention this because, to me, it represents an attitude that all of us as members of the AFM have to develop. In light of what is happening to some of our fine orchestras in negotiations with their managements, orchestras planning more programs with “classical” instrumentation, pit orchestras being reduced in size, recording work being done overseas, we all have issues related to keeping our livelihoods secure, if not improved, and we need to find ways to be informed, active participants in the process.

Personally, I find myself reading the business section of newspapers as much as the arts section to know more about how other unions are being impacted and how they are responding. What are the issues and challenges regarding health care for union members? What is the best way for a union to make its voice heard and have a political influence? We each need to be better informed about our contracts and labor developments, not only where we live, but also in other unions and other parts of the country.
We cannot rely on our officers to work on our behalf without letting them know we want to be involved. The AFM is very proactive in these areas and Director of Organizing and Education Paul Frank is working with musicians nationwide to identify, address, and respond to the issues of the day as they relate to AFM members.

The player conferences of the AFM provide a wonderful way for all of us to be more informed about the work and challenges of musicians working in areas that may not be their primary workplace. In these times, more knowledge can and should lead to more solidarity. More and better work for any musician in our union is better for all of us. We can only lose if we work from a position of isolation and “me first.” There are plenty of forces working to diminish who and what we are. The more we know about our fellow musicians, and their needs and challenges, the more effectively we can all support each other.

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