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 » Robert Baird » New Year’s Resolutions for Artists Working in Foreign Lands

New Year’s Resolutions for Artists Working in Foreign Lands


As we greet the New Year, we take the time to reflect on the past and resolve to do things better in the coming year. So, with my best wishes for success in 2016, here are some New Year’s resolutions for musicians working in foreign lands:

  1. I will use an AFM contract for all of my bookings whenever possible. If I am utilizing another contract from a buyer, I will attach (and get signed) a Schedule 1 from the AFM form T2C – Travelling Engagement Contract.
  2. I will protect myself from any adverse contractual consequences by reading over the contract carefully; by ensuring that the payment currency, mode of payment, and time of payment do not penalize me in any way; and by making provisions in the contract for cancellation due to circumstances not covered by a “force majeure” clause, such as personal or family illness, etc.
  3. I will be aware of and take into consideration the withholding requirements for travelling musicians (30% in the US; 15% in Canada). I will deal with the required paperwork well in advance of the booking. This means arranging for a Central Withholding Agreement (CWA) in the US or an R-105 waiver in Canada.
  4. I will deal with any impediments to carrying and selling merchandise (CDs, T-shirts, etc.) by making sure the merchandise is correctly labelled (country of manufacture; for promotional purposes only, etc.) and utilizing a customs broker, if necessary.
  5. I will be aware of the latest rules regarding endangered species as part of musical instruments. I will look into the need for an Instrument Passport and make sure I use a border crossing point that can deal with this issue.
  6. I will keep a complete inventory of the equipment I travel with and will get a customs stamp on my inventory list at the border before I leave my country. This will make re-entry much easier. I will look into the feasibility of using an ATA Carnet.
  7. I will ensure that my passport is up-to-date. In addition, I will carry other relevant documentation that will ease my border crossing (visa, contract copy, letter of invitation, return flight ticket, hotel accommodation confirmation, etc.).
  8. I will ensure I have obtained the proper visa to enter the country I am visiting—work visa or permit to work in the country (O-1B, P-1, P-2, P-3) or visa for other purposes (business visa: B-1, study visa, etc.).
  9. I will complete the required tax filings—T-1, T-2, and T4A-NRSUM Summary in Canada or 1040NR, 1042 in the US—and be current with the tax authorities.
  10. I will be aware of industry trends and changes to regulations, restrictions, and cautions that affect my ability to travel.

Being a working musician in a foreign land requires a breadth of knowledge and awareness well beyond the main focus of any artist. If working in a foreign land is in your career plans, make sure you know what needs to be done and take care of things well in advance. Safe and happy travels!

—I welcome your questions and concerns. Please send an email to:
While I cannot answer every question in this column, I promise to answer every email I receive.

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