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 » Legislative Update » Political Advocacy: The AFM Member Path to Career Certainty

Political Advocacy: The AFM Member Path to Career Certainty


As the nation moves toward the 2024 general election, it is time to organize ourselves for success. Over recent years, AFM members have ramped up efforts on Capitol Hill to promote legislation affecting their lives.

Soon, you will be confronted with making election and lobbying choices that will directly affect your career. Let’s look at our internal advocacy machine to underscore how your union can be most effective.

Lobbying Efforts 

The AFM has a record of successfully engaging Congress on issues of importance to your career, family, and livelihood. The purpose of the AFM National Legislative Office is to organize members of Congress to work in support of our issues. AFM member active involvement in legislative campaigns has made a difference. Your response to AFM political email blasts from the AFM President’s Office reached a peak last year. We want to thank you for all the letters, phone calls, and emails sent to make your voices heard in direct support of our Capitol Hill lobbying efforts.

Let’s take a quick look at some major wins over the years.

Musical Instruments as Carry-on Baggage: The fight to clarify federal law regarding your right to carry musical instruments onboard commercial airlines began in earnest immediately after the devastating 9/11 terrorist attacks. As Congress raced to revise what may and may not be carried onboard airplanes, the AFM along with the AFL-CIO worked to include language about musical instruments in the first Aviation and Transportation Security Act.

During the debate, the AFM’s legislative language was often misrepresented on the Hill, leading to it being referred to as “the tuba amendment.” Eventually, we were able to establish that the portage of musical instruments would be considered but not guaranteed. After 11 years of dogged campaigning, Congress added legislation in the Federal Aviation Administration Modernization and Reform Act to allow instruments onboard. Negotiations on rulemaking began at the Department of Transportation with the Carry-on Coalition, led by AFM President Ray Hair, sitting across the table from the major and regional airlines. It resulted in the settlement that guides our travel efforts today. AFM member calls and emails to Congress made the difference in how our representatives voted.

Music Modernization Act: Passed in 2018, this piece of legislation was the first major copyright revision in 30 years and updates copyright law to make statutory licensing fairer for creators and more efficient for digital music providers. 

National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities: More than a decade of disputes over projects funded and conservative attacks on the value of the agency’s offerings led to struggles to increase per capita endowment funding. The AFM, along with AFL-CIO Department of Professional Employees (DPE) Arts, Entertainment, and Media Industry Coordinating Committee (AEMI) affiliates and the nation’s nonprofit arts community finally brought Republicans and Democrats together, convincing members of Congress of the viability of this agency and the financial support it gives to every congressional district.

Under the historic leadership of House Arts Caucus Chair Louise Slaughter (D-NY) [now deceased] and current Co-Chairs Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY), the agency was able to achieve its highest level of funding ever for the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, $207 million (a $27 million increase over FY2022-enacted funding levels). Representative Pingree recognized your efforts in a letter that was printed in the 102nd AFM Convention Program (available at

American Rescue Plan-Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act: The Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act helps financially troubled multiemployer plans meet their benefit obligations to retired participants. It was part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which President Joe Biden signed into law March 11, 2021. All AFM vested members are stakeholders in this legislation, which shored-up the AFM-EPF until the year 2053. Individual member participants, AFM Taskforce for Employment of Musicians Promotional Organization (TEMPO) Signature members, and AFM player conference members made calls to Capitol Hill in support of passage.

What’s Up Next?

American Music Fairness Act (AMFA): AMFA would provide a performance right (royalty) for music played on AM/FM terrestrial radio. Currently in the House as HR 791, the legislation is offered by Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Darrell Issa (R-CA) and in the Senate as S253 from Senators Alex Padilla (D-CA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

Performing Artist Tax Parity Act: Offered by Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL), this act will restore tax benefits for arts workers lost in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act: The PRO Act restores the right of workers to freely and fairly form a union and bargain together for changes in the workplace. It is a landmark worker empowerment, civil rights, and economic stimulus legislation.

2024 Election: All 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for re-election as well as 34 Senate seats. Primary races for House and Senate seats as well as for Republican presidential challengers have already begun. The time to register to vote is now. Many of our friends on Capitol Hill will need your votes and need your contributions to TEMPO.  

The six crucial pillars to AFM political advocacy are:

  • Voting
  • Lobbying
  • Door knocking
  • Poll volunteering
  • Political communications
  • Influence—encouraging others to register and vote

We are in the first session of the 118th Congress, which lasts two years. The AFM National Legislative Office is actively engaged in all the above efforts.   

Our office is currently initiating a new volunteer Rapid Response Team of members willing to volunteer a small portion of time contacting Congress at critical stages of the legislative process. To get involved, click here to register. 

We look forward to working with you and continuing the work of AFM TEMPO Signature members in getting the word out. Thank you for your voice and your membership.

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