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


Officers Columns

Here are the latest posts from our officers


Ray Hair – AFM International President

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    New IEB, Division Director, and International Representative Appointments

    I am pleased to announce that the International Executive Board has appointed Terryl Jares, president of the Chicago Federation of Musicians, Local 10-208 (Chicago, IL), to fill the unexpired term of Tino Gagliardi, former president of New York City Local 802, who resigned his IEB seat to accept my appointment as director of the Federation’s Theatre, Touring, and Booking Division and also as International Representative assisting locals located in the Eastern United States.

    International Officer Jares has served Local 10-208 continuously since 1995, first as a member of the local’s board of directors, then as the first woman to be elected vice president in 2004, and also as the first woman to be elected president of Local 10-208, a position she has held since 2016. She has served as an AFM convention delegate since 2003, most recently in 2019 as a member of the convention Finance Committee.
    Terryl graduated from Illinois State University with an applied performance degree in violin and viola, and also with a degree in music education. She has performed in theatrical pit orchestras throughout the Chicago area and has toured across the United States performing with theatrical and orchestral productions. Terryl is an executive vice president of the Illinois AFL-CIO and an officer of the Chicago Entertainment Industry Labor Council.

    Theatre, Touring, and Booking Division Director Tino Gagliardi served as president and executive director of the Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802, from 2009 until 2018, and was elected to the International Executive Board four times, initially in 2010 and most recently in June 2019. Tino is a graduate of the University of Hartford and its Hartt School of Music, and enjoyed a decades-long career as a lead trumpet player, touring the world as a member of Broadway show pit orchestras performing under Pamphlet B and also as a pit orchestra member in every Broadway theater.
    During his performing career, Tino was a regular in New York City’s concert, club date, and recording fields. As president of Local 802, he led the negotiations for Broadway, the Lincoln Center resident orchestras, and Radio City. Tino is a trustee to the American Federation of Musicians and Employers’ Pension Fund and the AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund. In addition to his role as director of the Theatre, Touring, and Booking Division, Tino will serve as International Representative to locals in the Eastern US, assuming the duties of Gene Tournour, who recently retired from that position after nearly 25 years of service.

    Previous Theatre, Touring, and Booking Division Director George Fiddler has accepted my appointment as director of Immigration Services, and will review and administer the day-to-day receipt of information from employers and from foreign musicians who seek visa consultation and advice from the Federation for submission to the US Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security. In addition to his immigration services duties, George will also assist Director Gagliardi as associate director of the Theatre, Touring, and Booking Division, particularly in anticipation of the opening of negotiations for a successor Pamphlet B agreement covering the services of musicians employed across the United States and Canada in theatrical touring productions.
    George is a graduate of the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook, and worked at Radio City Music Hall, and also in the freelance and club date scene in New York City for decades. He began his work with the Federation in 2008 supervising visa consultation requests from foreign booking agents and musicians, and later served as interim director of the Theatre, Touring, and Booking Division.

    Steve Begnoche, former trustee of Austin, Texas Local 433, has accepted my appointment as International Representative for the southern United States, stepping into the shoes of retiring International Rep Gerald “Cass” Acosta of Shreveport, Louisiana, who held that post for nearly 20 years. Steve is a percussionist who holds a music degree from the University of Hartford and the Hartt School of Music. He served Local 23 (San Antonio, TX) and Local 65-699 (Houston, TX) as an executive administrative assistant, where he oversaw office operations and multiple service programs, including job referrals, Music Performance Trust Fund project development, and organizing membership and recruitment drives.
    I extend my best wishes to former International Representatives Cass Acosta and Gene Tournour for an amazing and well-deserved retirement, and I hope that Cass and Gene will now have the time to do the things they never had the time to do. I also welcome Executive Officer Terryl Jares, Theatre, Touring, and Booking Director and International Representative Tino Gagliardi, Immigration Services Director George Fiddler, and International Representative Steve Begnoche to their new roles and duties in furtherance of the mission and goals of the Federation, our locals, and our members. I am looking forward to working with each of you, as we strive to improve the lives of musicians everywhere.

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jay blumenthal

Jay Blumenthal – AFM International Secretary-Treasurer

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    Convention-Directed Study Commences, Staffing Changes in New York City Headquarters

    The delegates to the 2019 AFM Convention passed substitute Resolution No. 9 that directs the international president and the international secretary-treasurer to “commence a study regarding establishing and implementing more efficient and uniform tools and procedures for the administration of AFM electronic media contracts, to decrease the expense of collecting, processing, and remitting payments to the Federation, and maximize the effectiveness of the delivery of services to affected members.”
    The study began on September 11, when AFM President Hair and I, along with EMSD Director Pat Varriale and EMSD Assistant Director John Painting, met in Toronto with AFM Vice President from Canada Alan Willaert, AFM Canadian office Executive Director Liana White and AFM Canadian office Electronic Media Supervisor Daniel Calabrese to discuss the process and procedures for the handling of electronic media contracts in the Canadian office.
    Following the meeting, Hair, Varriale, Painting, and I went to the Toronto Musicians’ Association Local 149 to meet with Executive Director Michael Murray and Treasurer Andy Morris, along with Local 149 President Linda Cara and Secretary Charlie Gray. Andy has developed electronic media database software for the local that has led to efficiencies in the processing of EMSD contracts and expedited payments to musicians. Our visit included a full demonstration showing the capabilities of this software.
    It is our intention to confer with the Recording Musicians Association (RMA) and collect information from various other locals where electronic media work is performed to better understand their electronic media procedures and the software they use to accomplish the task of administering electronic media contracts and collecting and remitting payments to the Federation. Ultimately, it is our goal to “decrease the expense of collecting, processing, and remitting payments to the Federation, and maximize the effectiveness of the delivery of services to affected members.”

    Staff Change

    AFM Information Systems Manager Walter Lopez will be leaving the AFM and moving with his family to a new home and job in Florida. It is an understatement to say that Walter will be missed.
    He was very involved with our recent move to the ninth floor where he collaborated with the architects who planned the new space and the outside vendors who installed the IT infrastructure to meet our present and future IT needs. New cabling throughout the space, a central and secure IT server room, boardroom and meeting room teleconferencing, new copy machines, a new telephone system, and many other technological improvements fell within Walter’s purview. He also negotiated many of the contracts covering outside vendor IT services, which now contain more favorable terms for the AFM.
    Besides our AFM New York City headquarters, Walter oversaw our technology and IT operational needs for the AFM Canadian office in Toronto, the AFM West Coast office in Burbank, and our AFM Legislative office in Washington, DC. During his seven-year tenure, Walter continually remained focused on securing our AFM systems to protect member information. We wish Walter and his family all the best in his new position and thank him for his dedicated service to our members.
    Working side by side with Walter for the past four years has been Michael Ramos, AFM information system support specialist. Michael will move up to become our new information systems manager.
    Michael was involved throughout our recent move to the ninth floor, so he knows our current IT systems and, having been present for the 2016 and 2019 AFM Conventions at the Westgate Hotel in Las Vegas, he has experience with our off-site technology requirements. Michael has hit the ground running in his new role. Please contact Michael for IT needs at ext. 270.

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alan willaert

Alan Willaert – AFM Vice President from Canada

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    Progress Made on Intellectual Property Rights in Europe

    On October 1 and 2, President Hair and I attended the 108th Executive Committee (EC) meeting of the International Federation of Musicians (FIM) in Zurich. President Hair attends as a member of the Presidium (one of the five vice-presidents), and I represented Canada as part of the Executive Committee. Of the 60-plus member countries of FIM, only a few are represented on the EC. Besides Canada, the others are Australia, Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Japan, Norway, Romania, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
    One of the most interesting aspects of the meeting was the progress made in terms of intellectual property rights, specifically in Europe. The following is contained within the European Directive:

    Article 14 – Principle of fair and proportionate remuneration

    1. Member States shall ensure that authors and performers receive fair and proportionate remuneration for the exploitation of their works and other subject matter, including for their online exploitation.
    2. Paragraph 1 shall not apply where an author or performer grants a non-exclusive usage right for the benefit of all users free of charge.
    3. Member States shall take into account the specificities of each sector in encouraging the proportionate remuneration for rights granted by authors and performers.
    4. Contracts shall specify the remuneration applicable to each mode of exploitation.

    So what does that mean? In a nutshell, performers will be able to negotiate a fee and get paid for the use of their music on streaming platforms.
    Essentially, an unwaivable right is created for performers to receive an equitable remuneration for all online uses of their recordings, collected from streaming platforms and administered by performers’ Collective Management Organizations (CMO), in addition to their exclusive right of making available on demand. The proposal also introduces a collective bargaining component, allowing unions to bargain the remuneration in order to achieve an equivalent result. So essentially, either national law or collective bargaining can be used to set the conditions.
    Further, the recommendations include for payments to be based on “actual value” or “potential value,” and allows for lump-sum payments under certain circumstances. The details and text are too extensive to include here, but suffice to say that the European Union (EU) has made significant progress in intellectual property rights.
    As I have pointed out in previous articles, it is the responsibility of each member state to adopt and enact legislation which comports with the directive. However, at the FIM meeting, several members reported on the progress made with the governments in their respective countries, which is an extremely positive sign.
    It’s important to understand that this is not applicable in Canada. Currently, performers are stuck with Re:Sound’s Tariff 8, which, unfortunately, still pays only 10% of similar tariffs in other countries, such as the United States or the EU. Perhaps in the future, if and when our recommendations during the Copyright Review are enacted, Canada’s Copyright Board will have a more streamlined methodology to respond to market conditions and trends (such as the convergence of media on the streaming platform), and be able to respond with a more appropriate tariff structure and remuneration levels. Canada’s musicians are counting on it.

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Other Officer Columns:

I Am Proud to Join the International Executive Board

What a surprise getting the word from President Hair that I was being considered to fill a vacancy on the International Executive Board. It is an honor to accept the appointment, and I promise to serve the membership to the best of my ability.
I have been an active AFM member since 1975, when I began my journey from a violinist/violist working as a freelance player in Chicagoland to my current position as president and first woman officer of the Chicago Federation of Musicians (CFM).
I started my career in the labor movement as a board member of the CFM, which lasted for nine years, where I had the distinct honor of working with CFM President Ed Ward and Vice President Tom Beranek. During this time, I represented our city in the grassroots beginning of the Theater Musicians Association where officers and musicians came together to address issues in our theaters. I served as the secretary-treasurer of the organization from 1997-2001.
Moving from the CFM board to vice president in 2004, I participated in negotiating collective bargaining agreements for the local along with our president, Gary Matts. We worked closely with the player’s committees to hear their needs and bargain for positive wage increases and working conditions. I also was successful in organizing many small theaters and ensembles.
In 2016, I was elected by acclamation as the first woman president of the Chicago Federation of Musicians. I now sit behind the original desk of our great labor leader James Petrillo, which gives me inspiration every day.
I believe in creating strong relationships within our political community. As a local officer, I serve as a vice president representing the musicians on the executive board of the Illinois AFL-CIO, a position I have held since 2004. I sit on the finance committee of the Chicago Federation of Labor and have held all offices of the Chicago Entertainment Industry Labor Council. Recently, I was invited to serve on the transition team of our new mayor, Lori Lightfoot, where arts leaders across the city had the opportunity to give input into the future activities of the arts and cultural community in Chicago.
As president of the Chicago Federation of Musicians, I led two of the longest strikes for both the Lyric Opera Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony. The issues of each group were vastly different, however, by collective action, we were able to make significant gains that might not have been reached without a job action.
I believe in working together, listening to every voice, and finding solutions to the issues at hand. Please let me know if I can give you help along the way.

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dave pomeroy

Unity: The Key to the AFM’s Future

dave pomeroy

by Dave Pomeroy, International Executive Board Member and President of Local 257 (Nashville, TN)

My first real interaction with the leadership of Nashville’s Local AFM 257 many years ago was for one reason—to help solve a problem involving local live gigs and an overzealous 257 business agent. After years of silent frustration, I finally stood up and said something about it at a membership meeting, and the next thing I knew, I was named head of a committee charged with solving the problem.

We met twice, identified the issue and agreed on the
solution. We wrote a new local bylaw that clarified that when bands are playing
“original music” in a “listening room,” the bandleader can be the employer and
sign the contract. This one-sentence bylaw ended years of unnecessary
confusion, numerous unjust charges against members, and a rigid attitude that
was long overdue for a change. It was a turning point for me, and the start of
a journey that has led me down some very different paths than I expected when I
first moved to Nashville in 1977. I started paying more attention after that,
and made a decision to get more involved in the business of our union.

As I was making the transition from a full-time touring musician to a freelance studio player, producer, and performer, I served on the Local 257 hearing board, and then the executive board. The more I listened and learned, the more I realized that there was much that could be done to improve things at Local 257, and that most problems seemed to stem from a lack of communication and/or a resistance to change.

In 2004, I became president of the Nashville chapter
of the Recording Musicians Association player conference at a time when the AFM
was fighting within itself and not taking care of business with the outside
world. By improving communication between the members of our local and working
with RMA chapters and AFM members elsewhere with similar concerns, we were able
to make significant progress at the 2005 AFM Convention. My experience there
changed my perspective once again, and I began to see the bigger picture. I
could also see that we had a lot of work to do on the national level as well as
within our local.

The next few years of internal union conflicts were frustrating, and it became apparent that something had to give, or the AFM was going to self-destruct. The timing couldn’t have been worse, as all this was happening at a time of great change in the music industry. After a lot of soul searching, in 2008 I ran for, and was elected to, the office of president of Local 257, which began a wave of change that peaked at the AFM Convention in 2010. I was part of the Unity Slate that brought new leadership to the AFM, including Ray Hair as president, and I was elected to the IEB.

It has been my honor to serve in both capacities
since then. I am proud of what we have accomplished as a team to repair the
damage done by AFM infighting over the previous decade and the progress we have
made by working together. I have learned many valuable lessons, none more
important than the understanding that if we are not united, we will not

So, why am I bringing up all this history up in
2019? Because time marches on, and now more than ever it is critically
important for the next generation of AFM leaders to see the value in stepping
up, getting involved, and making a difference. It is in the best interest of
every AFM member for us to do everything we can to keep the lines of
communication open within all segments of our membership. We must be united in
purpose and focused on accomplishing our goals in our dealings with the
worldwide music industry.

Young members are the future of the AFM, and we welcome your
input and involvement. We need your ideas and energy to not only deal with what
lies immediately ahead, but also to be able to anticipate future challenges. By
listening to each other and working together, we all have a chance to pay it
forward and help make a stronger AFM. It’s up to each of us to do our part and
give back to the only organization that looks out for professional musicians.
Here’s to the future!

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I Look Forward to Working on Behalf of All AFM Musicians

by Ed Malaga, AFM International Executive Board member

It is truly an honor to have been elected to the IEB at the 101st AFM Convention, and I wish to offer my sincere gratitude to all of the delegates and to Team Unity for the opportunity to serve the AFM in this capacity. By way of introduction, my instrument is double bass and I have been serving as president of Washington D.C. Local 161-710 since 2011. As an AFM member of 30 years, I would like to share some experiences which have made a lasting impact and helped inform my perspective as an AFM officer.

After graduating from New England Conservatory, I moved to Washington D.C. and joined Local 161-710 in 1989. My union baptism came soon after. I had been hired to play Don Carlo with the Washington Opera in the fall of 1991 when I learned that contract negotiations had stalled and the orchestra had been locked out by management. I joined the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra (KCOHO) musicians on the picket line at the Kennedy Center—my first labor action—and it made a powerful impression. The KCOHO musicians prevailed in that struggle, but would find themselves on another picket line two years later.

It was sometime after
that I began to learn more about the history of the National Symphony Orchestra
(NSO) and their various struggles since their founding in 1931. As a substitute
there, I had made the acquaintance of Bill Foster and Fred Zenone, but I wasn’t
aware of the important roles they had played on behalf of their orchestra—Bill
as Orchestra Committee chair and Fred as chairman of ICSOM. A memorable image
is the photograph of NSO Music Director Mstislav Rostropovich locked arm-in-arm
with Bill and Fred on an NSO picket line from 1978.

Several years later, I
found myself on the committee of the Washington Ballet Orchestra as we worked
to get our first contract with management. A pick-up orchestra for many years,
we were interested in gaining job security and the ability to bargain for
wages. We accomplished this in 1999, negotiating our first agreement with the
company. It was in December 2005, during the annual Nutcracker performances,
when we learned that the ballet dancers were struggling with management on
their own first contract. We met with the dancers to hear their story. Pay was
very low, and the working conditions were not good. We held a meeting and voted
unanimously to support the dancers.

Halfway through that Nutcracker run,
management shut down the production, locking everyone out. We picketed in front
of the Warner Theatre with the dancers and their union, the American Guild of
Musical Artists (AGMA), as well as International Alliance of Theatrical Stage
Employees (IATSE) Local 22 stagehands who provided an inflatable rat. The
lockout would continue for six months, but AGMA eventually secured their very
first contract with The Washington Ballet. The demonstration of support by the
various trade unions throughout this process was inspirational and the
importance of union solidarity was clear.

The musicians of the AFM are no strangers to adversity; in fact, our union was born from it. As I write this, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has now been locked out for two months. At the AFM Convention in June, a powerful message of support for the musicians of the Baltimore Symphony and Local 40-543 was evident. At the AFM Convention in 2013, it had been a lockout of the Minnesota Orchestra which initiated an impromptu donation from the floor, resulting in another overwhelming demonstration of AFM support.

I consider myself
fortunate for the opportunities I’ve had to perform amazing music with amazing
musicians, and when the opportunity arose to work for their best interests as a
local officer, there was no hesitation. I have the greatest respect for all of those
who paved the way for us to be where we are now. Organizing and bargaining are
the lifeblood of our union, but it is our compassion, our empathy, and support
for our colleagues who are treated unfairly by their employers that are the
heart and soul of our union.

We are artist workers.
Every orchestra contract, every theater agreement, every situation under which
AFM musicians are employed has its own unique story to tell, and this history
must be passed on to successive generations.

Together in unity, I know that
we are capable of overcoming any challenge before us. I look forward to working
on behalf of all our AFM musicians.

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The Future is Calling

As unprecedented
change transforms the music industry, greater are the demands on our union to
bargain strategically within myriad sectors. Through an ongoing transformation
in consumption, evolving monetization of content, and ever-expanding
cross-collateralization of media across platforms, we are challenged to conform
our agreements and to respond to new world paradigms.

With the process
of collective bargaining being slow and methodical, only consistently engaged
rank-and-file members and union leadership will be able to move our
organization forward. This calls for inclusivity at every level. From
membership meetings to union caucuses, from player conferences to regional
conferences, we should strive to listen to the opinions of all of our members
while building the necessary consensus to form policy and initiatives. As our
union embarks upon bargaining for the coming year, our commitment to organizing
in the workplace must continue to grow, bringing musicians across our
Federation’s landscape together to build strength and unity.

With a
revitalized focus on organizing, a similar investment of effort and resources
should be concentrated in our administration and enforcement of our agreements
to provide our members with reliable support. With tightening deadlines, global
competition, and the need for quick turnarounds, we should seek to respond to
our members with greater urgency. We should also strive to modernize how we
track, compute, and collect payments. In Los Angeles, we are in the process of
upgrading our computer systems to offer cloud-based services to members 24/7,
with app-based interfaces and instant access via computer, tablet, or
smartphone so that our members may track their benefits, file a contract, or
update their personal information via the web.

The future is
now, and the moment to step up our game is before us; we should strive to
provide our members easy access to all of their information as is expected in
the digital age. As we modernize our infrastructure, we can also tap into a
newly activated interest in labor unions among young professionals. With the
growth of the “gig economy” and lost sense of community, there is also opportunity
to organize non-union musicians into our Federation. At every occasion we
should strive to expand our tent, and with growth we should stand ready to
expand the bargaining table so that all stakeholders have a meaningful voice in
shaping the agreements that they work under.

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