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 www.afm.org/join.
December 29, 2014Tino Gagliardi - Theatre, Touring, and Booking Division Director
You can be a musician, and have power in numbers, too. As a union, it is our job to ensure that musicians get fair treatment and are recognized by their employers as the valuable employees that they are. But to do so, we must continue to engage our members and make sure that the general public knows that, if they care about music, they must care about musicians. In any campaign, we must ensure that musicians are both the faces and the motor that keeps it going.
This was very much the case during negotiations with the Metropolitan Opera this year. The MET Orchestra Musicians brought the energy and the exacting nature that they bring to their work every day to the negotiating table. They approached the talks with rigorous, data-driven analysis and found areas where management could achieve real cost savings, while performing grand opera.
It was grueling work for all of us, but it was great to see the level of collaboration amongst the musicians and their solidarity with their coworkers at the MET. It was also clear to anyone who was following the process that opera is still very much alive and well, and that the MET Orchestra Musicians had the support of elected officials, friends, and fans from around the world, all of whom chimed in to express their solidarity.
The musicians were able to raise their profile, via their own website and through social media, and are continuing to engage their fans and build their audiences this way. I am proud of the family they are, of the hard work that they put into their craft every day, and of their incredible and continued teamwork during negotiations. While the agreement calls for sacrifices on both sides, it is unprecedented among arts organizations in that it calls for a new level of financial oversight and includes a mechanism for artists to collaborate in finding meaningful efficiencies.
When Local 802 (New York City) member Jimmy Owens testified at a City Council hearing about the plight of older musicians in jazz clubs, he did something no one but a musician could do: he reached for his flugelhorn, and played “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” to a rapt audience. It was a moment that reminded everyone present about the power of live music. The attention he and other musicians garnered helped the Justice for Jazz Artists campaign achieve a new goal this year. In October, the New York City Council passed a resolution supporting Justice for Jazz Artists, which seeks, through collective bargaining, to improve the lives of musicians working in New York City’s jazz clubs by addressing workplace issues, including providing retirement security.
Once again, the musicians were front and center. Local 802 members testified at a City Council hearing about the hardships of older jazz musicians who have not received pensions, performed at the resolution’s passage, and later, gathered with council members on the steps of City Hall. The musicians’ commitment and passion garnered much attention, and now more people than ever are supporting this campaign. This kind of support will help push New York’s major jazz clubs to do the right thing, and will hopefully lead to similar campaigns in other cities.
In the coming year, it is important for us to bring the same energy to other campaigns. We must ensure that working musicians are treated fairly in venues such as casinos, which have a growing presence in New York and in areas throughout the country. We must also ensure that, in areas where there are generous state and federal government tax incentives for film companies, there are also strong campaigns. We must educate the public about the problem of companies who receive such benefits outsourcing musicians’ jobs to London and Bratislava. Once again, it will be important to ensure that our musicians are front and center in these efforts, and to build strong coalitions with other stakeholders who care about these issues. Musicians have power, and our members were reminded of that fact this year. It is our job to make sure they don’t forget about the power they have and what they can accomplish when they work together.