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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    Player Conferences Are Essential to the Promotion of Internal Member Involvement

    Each August, I have the pleasure of attending the annual meetings of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM), the Regional Orchestra Players’ Association (ROPA), the Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM), and the Theater Musicians’ Association (TMA). ICSOM, ROPA, OCSM, TMA, together with the Recording Musicians Association (RMA), comprise five intermediate bodies within the AFM known as player conferences.

    Player conferences promote internal member
    involvement by providing forums for musicians from similar workplaces
    throughout the Federation to share their experiences, to identify, articulate,
    and prioritize their needs and discuss and develop plans of action to address
    those needs. The flow of accurate information from the workplace to local and
    Federation officers and staff from rank-and-file committees, through their
    conferences, is vital to our support toward the bargaining of our members’
    collective agreements, as well as efforts to organize additional meaningful
    employment for musicians.

    I find it extremely beneficial to attend player
    conference meetings. It demonstrates that despite differences in
    instrumentation, wage scales and benefits, or the hundreds or thousands of
    miles separating our members by country and venue, we all share the same
    fundamental problems—exploitation by employers and managers who make way more
    from our labor than we do, but who couldn’t do what we do as musicians in a
    million years.

    Player conferences elect their officials by a vote
    of delegates from constituent workplaces. A consistent goal of my
    administration has always been to maintain close working relationships and
    clear and effective lines of communication between the Federation and all
    conferences, including our geographical conferences.

    Player conference leaders perform an important role
    in our union—they channel musicians’ attitudes, experiences, opinions, hopes,
    and desires directly to the union from the workplace, so that, as a team, we
    can organize to bargain and bargain to organize. After my election as your
    president nine years ago, I supported a policy of rotating player conference
    leaders as monthly columnists in the International Musician.

    This month, I am reintroducing AFM’s player
    conference leaders in this column, each with a bit of biographical information.
    They are wonderful people and I enjoy working with them. I’d like to thank them
    for bringing their energy, dedication, and commitment to bear on behalf of
    their talented constituents as we continue to build real unionism and a unity
    of purpose for the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and

    ICSOM Chairperson Meredith Snow, a graduate of the Juilliard School, has been a member of AFM Locals 802 and 47. She began her career as a violist with the Colorado String Quartet, then San Francisco Opera Orchestra, and for the past 30 years has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. She was elected as a delegate to ICSOM in 1991 where she served as a member-at-large to the ICSOM Governing Board until her election as ICSOM chairperson in 2016.

    OCSM President Robert Fraser became secretary-treasurer of AFM Local 247 Victoria, British Columbia, Canada in 1991 early in his career as a trombonist with the Victoria Symphony Orchestra. He continued to serve as an officer of Local 247 until 2002. He became a union activist as a result of his experiences as a local union officer and also, he says, because he was inspired to activism by the leadership of Canadian locals, the player conferences, the Federation leadership and Federation senior staff. Robert represented the Victoria Symphony as a delegate to OCSM from 1999-2003, then served as OSCM secretary from 2003 through 2013, when he was elected as president of OCSM.

    ROPA President John Michael Smith. A bassist in the Minnesota Opera Orchestra, John Michael’s involvement in ROPA began in 2007, serving first as an alternate delegate and later as delegate to ROPA from the Minnesota Opera Orchestra. He began his performing career with the Norfolk (VA) Symphony, has been a member of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, and has performed, recorded, and toured with both the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra. He was elected to the ROPA Executive Board in 2011 and became president in 2016. John Michael also serves as chair of the ROPA Electronic Media Committee and served on the AFM’s negotiating team for the recently concluded Integrated Media Agreement (IMA). He is an active freelancer in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and is a Life Member of Local 30-73

    International President Marc Sazer
    is an active performer both in the recording studios of Hollywood and in
    Southern California concert halls. Marc has performed for innumerable film,
    television, recording, and other media projects, from TV shows like Animaniacs and Pinky & the Brain to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Empire, films from My
    Big Fat Greek Wedding
    to the
    currently-scoring Star Wars Episode IX, to records for Shirley Horn, Frank Sinatra, and
    Randy Newman. He is a current a member of the Pasadena Symphony, and has
    performed with virtually every orchestra in the Los Angeles area. He currently
    serves as first vice president of the LA Chapter of the Recording Musicians
    Association, and international president of RMA. He has been at the forefront
    of campaigning for fair contracts, fair tax credits, and fair employment for
    AFM musicians.

    TMA President Tony D’Amico. A freelance bassist in the New England area, Tony performs regularly with the Boston Pops, Boston Philharmonic, Rhode Island Philharmonic, and Portland (ME) Symphony Orchestra. He also performs with locally produced and touring theatrical musicals when shows are presented in Boston. He is a member of Boston Local 9-535 and Providence Local 198-457, has served on the Executive Board of Boston Local 9-535 since 2001, and has served on that local’s theatre committee for many years. He founded the Boston TMA Chapter in 2006 and was elected as TMA president in 2016.

    Read More

jay blumenthal

Jay Blumenthal – AFM International Secretary-Treasurer

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    Take a Look at Our New AFM Headquarters

    This issue of International Musician features some photos recently taken at the AFM office in New York which moved into new office space on the ninth floor at 1501 Broadway on April 1, 2019. The office consists of 18,332 rentable square feet (RSF). RSF is a term of art in that it includes square footage that cannot actually be utilized, such as a percentage of the common areas of the building (e.g. hallways, lobbies, and common restrooms). The ninth floor at 1501 had to be completely remodeled and the architectural firm of Loffredo Brooks was engaged to design our new space.

    The old lease for the
    sixth-floor office expired requiring a move-out date no later than March 31,
    2019. Any holdover meant we would incur a financial penalty. Even though the
    new space was not completely finished, we moved in during the last weekend in
    March. Our new lease is for 15 years and 10 months. We pay half rent for the
    first 10 months as part of the deal. After 10 years, the AFM has the option to
    leave if the real estate market presents a great purchase opportunity. While we
    would incur some costs if we leave at the 10-year mark (for the unamortized
    cost of construction that was paid by the landlord), we wanted to preserve the

    The move went smoothly
    but we did experience one major hiccup. The telephone line from the basement of
    the building to the ninth floor had mysteriously been cut which resulted in a
    nearly two week delay before we had full telephone service. With this one
    exception, the move went well.

    afm headquarters
    Secretary-Treasurer Jay Blumenthal in his new office.

    The new glass entry
    doors proudly display the AFM seal and lead to the reception desk and a waiting
    area. The office is bright and cheery with windows along the perimeter
    (Broadway, West 43rd St. and West 44th St.) overlooking Times Square—the
    crossroads of the world. The new office features a slightly larger boardroom to
    hold collective bargaining negotiations. It has banquette seating along one of
    the walls which can now accommodate attendance by musician negotiating
    committees. We also have two conference rooms; one conference room can
    accommodate six people and the other eight people. These rooms will be used for
    caucuses during negotiations and meetings at other times. The boardroom and
    both conference rooms are equipped with the latest technology to support video
    conferencing. Virtual meetings, when appropriate, help the AFM save on
    traveling expenses.

    years, our dedicated staff endured a very cramped kitchen/lunchroom area. The
    new kitchen/lunchroom has five tables with chairs. Two small alcoves contain
    banquette seating with tables for more private conversations. The one microwave
    oven which overheated regularly in the old space has been replaced with two new
    higher-powered microwaves. A new refrigerator, dishwasher, small ice maker, and
    water cooler complete the space.

    A small wellness room
    with a reclining chair is intended to provide a place for a short, private
    respite for someone who is not feeling well.

    Our sole tenant, the
    Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF), occupies their own space within our
    office. It contains three private offices and a common area with a work

    So if you are in New York
    City, please stop by to see your new home. I think you will like what you see.

    Read More

alan willaert

Alan Willaert – AFM Vice President from Canada

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    Canadian Content Production Rules (CCPR) – Yesterday and Today

    Pour voir cet article en français, cliquez ici.

    will begin with the reason for this particular subject matter. On July 16th,
    negotiations with the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA) came to an
    abrupt halt when I stood up and walked out of the room (while uttering
    expletives and colourful metaphors). Before I explain why, you must first
    indulge me in a journey through some Canadian AFM history.

    are two contracts which have for many years been the bible for movies and
    television drama: the Theatrical Motion Picture Agreement and the Television
    Film Agreement. Both are excellent, and have the additional advantage of
    channelling payments into the Film Musicians’ Secondary Market Fund (FMSMF). Through
    the years, in order to monetize changes in distribution, the primary session
    fee of both agreements has been deliberately set on the low side. However, as
    the product moved to supplemental markets (think in-flight movies, pay TV,
    videocassette/DVD rental and sales, free TV, and sales to other countries),
    this would generate mandatory payments into the Fund on behalf of the musicians
    who participated in the score. In the end, those residuals resulted in
    significantly higher payouts than what could be bargained for a session.

    while those agreements were used in Canada, the results were quite different.
    First of all, the US is the big dog when it comes to the production of
    audiovisual content. With our population being one-tenth of the US, Canada’s
    footprint is proportionately smaller—and narrower. While it’s not unusual to
    hear of a US film budget in the hundreds of millions of dollars, the vast
    majority of Canadian films are well below $5 million. Most are what used to be
    called “movie of the week.” There are also documentaries, some episodic
    television drama and features that are entirely “Canadian Content.” To assist
    Canadian producers in finding capital to produce at all, there are federal and
    provincial tax credits for qualifying content, along with the ability to
    partner with foreign entities and produce “treaty” films. Some of this funding
    comes by way of a certificate issued by the Canadian Audio-Visual Certification
    Office (CAVCO) and is acquired by scoring high enough on a point system to merit

    am oversimplifying for the sake of space, but another factor is the absence of
    “big” Hollywood studios. There are very few based in Canada, with some
    exceptions, meaning they don’t own/distribute the production once it has been
    completed, but rather produce on behalf of another entity—primarily a Canadian
    broadcaster. In order to keep everything straight (for the tax credits and
    other necessary financing), a separate numbered company is opened to produce
    each film, or season of episodic drama. Once production is completed, the
    company is terminated.

    vastly different system (and market) created some problems for AFM members
    working under the MP/TV Film agreements, one being that each individual
    numbered company would have to become signatory to the agreements. Since the
    doors would close at the end of production, there were not many takers. If they
    did sign, once production ended, there was no entity left to pay any residuals
    into the FMSMF. Further, because of the type of productions these were, it was
    unlikely that a Canadian product would go further than television, and
    therefore, little opportunity for supplemental market residuals. Canadian
    session players would be recording for the same session fees as their LA
    counterparts, but would see residuals of $10 as opposed to thousands, or
    nothing at all.

    To remedy the inequity and recognize the vast difference in production, around 1995, Canadian composers—now known as the Screen Composers Guild of Canada (SCGC)—consulted with former vice president from Canada Ray Petch, and shortly thereafter his successor, David Jandrisch, to find a remedy. Hence was born the Canadian Content Production Rules (CCPR). While I am unclear as to just how many folks were involved, I know that David Jandrisch and Local 149 (Toronto, ON) member/composer Glenn Morley played significant roles in the structure and language, as well as former Administrative Assistant Len Lytwyn. I’m sure Glenn or Dave will correct any inaccuracy.

    CCPR was/is a short
    document, and lives as an addendum to the MP/TV Film Agreements for the
    production of CAVCO-certified or Canadian content in Canada. The premise is
    simple: The mandatory payments into the FMSMF are waived in favour of a higher
    session fee. In reality, it’s a pre-payment to the musicians to replace the
    residual. Because of this, the production may be distributed worldwide, to all
    markets in perpetuity. While often mistakenly referred to as a “buy-out,” it’s
    really only a pre-payment on distribution. The fees do not include other uses
    of the music, or repurposing in any way. To be clear, CCPR is not to be used by
    US companies who are currently a signatory to the other agreements. There is an
    application that must be completed, and certain criteria must be met.

    many years, CCPR flourished and producers were happy to sign on. However, in
    the 24 years that have passed, the industry has transformed radically, and that
    includes productions in Canada. Filing of CCPR paperwork (and the accompanying
    B7 report forms) has declined significantly in recent years, and there is more
    than one reason. With the surge of different broadcast models (i.e. streaming
    services), production budgets have dropped, which includes post-production (and
    scoring) budgets. The producers are offering less money to composers to deliver
    a completed product. Sometimes, the composers choose to use musicians in other
    countries (e.g. Prague, Bratislava) to keep costs down. Of course, none of that
    can be filed as AFM. And more often than not, the composer is compelled to hire
    no musicians at all and produce the music “in the box.”

    producers and distributors are still making profit as there is more content
    being produced than ever before, but it doesn’t seem to be available for music.
    So where is the money now? In a word—streaming.

    those of us in the Canadian Office, it became obvious that CCPR, in its present
    form, had outlived its usefulness. If producers were not offering a sufficient
    music budget, then musicians must be resourceful and find other means to
    maintain their scoring business. The agreement must be rewritten to allow for
    revenue to be extracted from what is now at least a $40 billion market
    worldwide—online streaming services. This is also the reason we entered into
    negotiations with the CMPA, to establish a new, forward-thinking agreement that
    recognized where the money is, and give musicians a fair share.

    In our first meeting
    with CMPA, we tabled a reworked version of the General Production Agreement, as
    used with broadcasters such as the CBC. After one pass back from them, it
    became clear that broadcasters and producers (when they are not the same
    entity), are different animals. The next four rounds of negotiations were
    extremely busy, as the AFM team worked toward a complete rewrite of an
    independent production agreement for use in Canada. In March of this year, we
    sent a complete pass to the CMPA, and while it no longer looked anything like
    our first proposals, the team was confident that we had constructed a fair and
    comprehensive agreement which both recognized the quirky differences of
    Canadian production and presented multiple alternatives for the fair
    compensation of AFM musicians.

    now come to July 16. CMPA had prepared a response to every article of our
    proposal. As they read through them, my heart fell. None of the major points
    were accepted; in fact, what they came back with was worse than the original

    the subject of streaming residuals—knowing most of their member producers would
    have difficulty in making payments once production was complete—we offered two
    alternatives. One was the standard percentage of distributor’s gross—the
    musicians make money if the producer makes money. The other was a term buy—a
    pre-payment for the number of years required, which could be made at any time.
    This would allow the producer to easily budget in advance, based on their
    licensing deal. CMPA deleted both proposals, unwilling to share any of the
    streaming revenues, despite the fact that other unions already have it.

    there were many additional aspects which clearly demonstrated that CMPA had no
    respect for musicians, they also eliminated composers from the agreement.
    Notwithstanding that we had presented a letter from the SCGC requesting their
    inclusion, CMPA took the position they didn’t belong in an agreement specific
    to scoring music (yes, you read that correctly). Further, they insisted upon
    eliminating provisions for musicians who are captured on camera (“sidelining”).
    All of these existed in the CCPR language. At that moment on July 16, the
    overwhelming feeling was that we were facing a team of greedy, anti-musician
    union-busters, giving rise to my angry reaction to walk away.

    Will we
    get back to the bargaining table? While I hope so, as it would be in the best
    interests of all concerned, there will have to be a different attitude
    emanating from the CMPA side of the table. What about CCPR? We have given
    notice to CMPA that CCPR terminates on December 31. It will be replaced by a
    document which recognizes the current realities in television and film production;
    a document which provides musicians with pension contributions, fair wages, and
    a doorway into the billions being made from streaming that is currently being
    horded by the large corporations and digital companies. Producers wishing to
    utilize AFM musicians may do so by utilizing this new agreement; or, they can
    use one of the other AFM agreements already negotiated and ratified—such the
    MP/TV Film, or the General Production Agreement (CBC). Whichever way it goes,
    we are further ahead than agreeing to the table scraps that were being offered
    by CMPA. Obviously, this story has more chapters to be written.

    Read More

Other Officer Columns:

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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It Has Been an Honor and a Privilege to Serve on the IEB

by Joe Parente, outgoing AFM IEB member and former President Local 77 (Philadelphia, PA)

Fourteen years ago, as I packed my bags for the AFM
Convention, I decided to run for the International Executive Board (IEB). As a
local union officer and a long-time delegate, I had attended numerous prior
conventions believing then, as I do now, that every local should attend the
convention. My decision to run for the IEB was primarily motivated by my desire
to fight on a larger scale for the rights and welfare of all members of the
AFM, particularly small and mid-size locals, and a desire to participate in the
process of strengthening our Federation and moving it forward.

That 2005 convention was both hectic and exciting.
While campaigning for a spot on the IEB, I had the opportunity to speak
with—and listen to—delegates from all corners of the AFM jurisdiction, hear
about the concerns of musicians of every type and locale, and learn what an IEB
member can do to help members and the Federation itself. To my pleasant
surprise, I was elected to office and thus began my first of multiple terms as
a member of the AFM IEB.

It has been my honor and privilege to serve on the
IEB, and I am proud of all that has been accomplished over the past 14 years.
However, after considerable thought, I decided to not run for re-election and
to step down at the conclusion of my current term.

If I had to boil down my parting message to one word
it would be this: Participate. It is critically important for every
local to participate in and attend the convention. I worry about the decline of
locals attending the convention and various conferences. Every musician should
have a voice in the AFM, but that can only happen if locals participate and
delegates speak up. When locals decline to attend the convention, the result
trickles down to its membership—the members of an absent, non-participating
local have no voice in the important policies and procedures discussed and
agreed upon by delegates that guide the business and actions of the AFM.

If I had to boil down my parting wish to two words,
they would be these: Maximum participation. It is my wish that every
local sends a delegate to every future convention. That is core to the unity of
our membership and for the AFM to thrive. The Federation gets its strength from
its locals, and every local and member benefits from a strong Federation.

While I am embarking on a new stage of my life, this
is more of a “see you later” than a “goodbye”: I remain available to help my
fellow musicians and AFM members—I am only a phone call or email away. I wish
all of you, the incoming IEB and the AFM, a future of success, prosperity, and
progress. Thank you for an incredible and gratifying experience.

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The Music Performance Trust Fund Is Back!

I am very happy to report that the new revenue
stream from online interactive digital distribution bargained by the Federation
in 2017 is paying real dividends. A recent report from the Sound Recording
Special Payments Fund reflects that this revenue is now more than $1.5 million,
which translates to an additional $250,000 available for distribution from the
Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF). This new revenue stream has brought the
MPTF back from the dire straits in which the fund found itself just a decade

The newly revitalized MPTF is a valuable resource
that locals across the country can take advantage of by pursuing projects and
partnerships with community organizations for events that meet the guidelines
for MPTF grants. Among the possible projects are educational programs, park
concerts, and music festivals. Free to the public events are perfect for the
mission of the MPTF and offer our locals the opportunity to strengthen
relations with diverse constituent groups in their municipalities and

From an organizational and recruitment perspective,
MPTF projects open the door for local officers to connect with musicians
performing within their local jurisdiction. They will be able to discover what
bands are popular and drawing big audiences in the local clubs and whether or
not they have a connection to the union. If not, local officers can provide
them with information and guidance about tapping into MPTF resources. This can
be an effective introduction to what our union can do for them. By building a
local MPTF event, such as a music festival, you are not only creating real
relationships with the communities you serve, but also offering meaningful
opportunities for local musicians to perform, all under an AFM agreement.

Many public events are funded in part by grants from
state and local arts councils. Approaching organizations that rely on such
public funding with an offer to bolster their events with musical groups
offering diverse styles of music, along with 50% funding for the musicians
employed, will get their attention. AFM President Ray Hair’s February 2019
President’s Message in the IM goes into further detail on
these types of community-based organizations. I urge everyone to take a look.

The reinvigoration of the MPTF provides all AFM
locals with a real opportunity to build bridges and create authentic connections,
not only with our communities, but also with the musicians who call those
communities home. Regardless of genre—jazz, classical, hip hop, folk, rock or
any of the other genres in which our members expresses themselves—nothing
brings people together like live music.

I have been asked by President Hair to help connect with locals that may have been missing out on the wonderful resource available to them from the MPTF. My goal is to support your efforts in this regard, whether they involve finding ways to make existing projects fit within MPTF guidelines or developing new and creative initiatives that advance the mission of the MPTF and enhance your local community. Email me at I look forward to working with you to help you remind your communities of this fundamental truth: Live music is best!

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