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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    AFM Pension Fund: The Retiree Representative and Equitable Factors Panel

    The American
    Federation of Musicians and Employers’ Pension Fund (Fund) has faced financial
    difficulties since the global 2007-2008 recession. Similar to dozens of other
    pension plans, the Fund is now underfunded and will be unable to pay benefits
    at the level projected in the pre-recession financial market. The Fund’s
    history of financial struggles is available here. The Fund is in the process of
    evaluating various options to reduce a portion of participants’ benefits in
    order to remain financially solvent.

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jay blumenthal

Jay Blumenthal – AFM International Secretary-Treasurer

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    Division in a Union Is Like Kryptonite

    It’s a challenge writing this month’s column since
    it is being written before the AFM Convention and published after the
    convention. Having attended many AFM conventions, I’ve learned that much can
    happen. There are often several unanticipated twists, turns, and unexpected
    issues that come before the delegates. This is all part of the democratic
    process. At times it can get quite messy, but ultimately it’s a very healthy
    process for our union.

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alan willaert

Alan Willaert – AFM Vice President from Canada

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    Labour Gears Up for War

    Pour voir cet article en français, cliquez ici.

    When the gavel
    dropped to open the May 14 meeting of the Canada Council of the Canadian Labour
    Congress (CLC), the tone was a mix of elation and trepidation. On the one hand,
    celebration had begun for the 100th anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike,
    an event in history which forever changed the landscape for labour laws across
    the country. But the elation soon diminished, as provincial reports of
    Conservative electoral victories—and the bellwether that lies therein—sets the
    stage for what may become the greatest struggle the labour movement has yet
    seen in this country.

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Other Officer Columns:

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.

Read More

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!

Read More


The AFM: Finding Strength in a Diverse Membership

John Acosta

by John Acosta, AFM International Executive Board Member and Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) President

within our union cannot be celebrated enough. While our membership runs the gamut in ethnicity, musical
genre, age, and gender, the paucity of diversity within many of the workplaces
in which we have representational duties continues to impede our effectiveness
and growth. While progress has been made within our profession to foster and embrace
diversity, an increasingly concerted and deliberate effort is needed to provide
a clearer path to increase diversity among officers and members alike.

Last year, the
League of American Orchestras, along with partners the Sphinx Organization and
the New World Symphony, announced the National Alliance for Audition Support,
an initiative that began with a discussion at a Diversity Forum convened by the
League and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation some years back.

Our employer
partners recognize the need to diversify the workplace in order to reflect the
ever growing and evolving communities they serve. While the AFM embarks on
programs of our own, we should also support and engage with our employers on
joint initiatives that will help elevate underrepresented communities.

This February, as
we celebrate Black History Month and look ahead to our triennial convention, we
have a twofold opportunity to highlight diversity within our Federation and
help kick off the AFM Diversity Awards application process. The AFM Diversity
Awards were created to recognize outstanding examples of diversity that foster
underrepresented communities within our organization, such as minority and
LGBTQ groups. The awards are also designed to recognize exceptional artists who
are actively engaged in underrepresented music genres.

By recognizing
these noteworthy individuals, we will help to unlock the transformational
potential that has always existed within our union, but is far too often
overlooked. A recent Brookings Institute study informs us that new census
data confirms the importance of racial
minorities as the “primary demographic engine of the nation’s future growth” and that “by
2045, whites will comprise 49.7% of the population in contrast to 24.6% for
Hispanics, 13.1% for blacks, 7.9% for Asians, and 3.8% for multiracial

Our union need only
tap into an already diverse membership, a membership that I believe may be a
great organizing vehicle. When you look at where our Federation already
represents musicians, we are truly a reflection of the current and increasingly
diversifying America. From the Grammy Awards to the American Music Awards, from
the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to the Jimmy Kimmel Live! show, our musicians are already ambassadors from
minority communities across America. Our challenge is how to engage and
activate our multicultural membership to inspire them to organize the next
generation of musicians into our Federation, and ultimately become the future
leaders of tomorrow’s AFM.

Read More

Career Pathways: A Potential Bridge to Diversity

John Acostaby John Acosta, AFM International Executive Board Member and President of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA)

Increasing our presence within the community of young musicians throughout the US and Canada should certainly be a major priority for all of us. Increasing awareness of the AFM among younger generations will only improve our ability to recruit new members, expanding and diversifying our ranks.

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