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.

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President’s Message

AFMPresidentRayHairW

Ray Hair – AFM International President

    AFM Updates Locals’ and Players’ Conference Delegates

    Following the Second Quarter AFM International Executive Board (IEB) meeting, held June 12-14 at the Motor City Casino in Detroit, Michigan, I have been reflecting on the considerable progress the Federation has made in the last 11 months.

    In April, the Education Committee launched the new AFM Officer Training program at the Western Conference of Locals. Led by Rochelle Skolnick, director of the Symphonic Service Division, and John Painting, director of the Electronic Media Services Division, the training delivers presentations focused on three main areas: 1) “Building Union Power,” covering union and leadership philosophy and problem-solving; 2) “Skill-Building Modules,” addressing on-the-ground topics and issues commonly faced by local officers; and 3) “Nuts-and-Bolts Practices,” focusing on the administration of a local office.

    Delegates at the 102nd AFM Convention clearly expressed their desire to see the AFM expand its involvement in organizing activities. To that end, I am happy to announce that we have hired two field organizers and will soon be hiring a researcher, all of whom will be working under the guidance of Director of Organizing and Assistant to the President Gabe Kristal (refer to the columns from the Organizing Division staff on pages 10-13 for more details).

    I have appointed an IEB committee to spearhead the “Change the Culture” initiative to address workplace safety concerns. This involves implementing a code of conduct and sexual harassment policy, outlining consequences for violations, providing proactive training, and implementing reporting tools to safeguard our members from discrimination, harassment, and sexual assault, with a focus on protecting our most vulnerable members, such as our freelance and gig musicians.

    A recurring topic in workplace discussions, we continuously struggle with the challenge of addressing artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential threat to the careers and livelihoods of musicians, both present and future. The use of this technology could have far-reaching negative implications for society, creators, and cultural diversity. Generative artificial intelligence companies will need to offer protections to musicians providing content, including consent of the musicians for the use of their sound, credit to the musicians, and fair compensation for the musicians whose work and talents form the foundation of the digital replication from existing content or the generation of new content. The current proposed legislation does little to protect nonfeatured session musicians, but rather focuses on our featured artists. This is equally important and integral to the protection of human artistry; however, the emphasis in most bills concentrates on image, likeness, and voice. More needs to be done to protect the instrumental sound of musicians, recognizing that no two performers on a given instrument impute the same style and sound.

    The AFM is increasing its efforts and plans to actively participate in discussions and important legislative initiatives to ensure that AI develops in a way that upholds fundamental principles and serves as a tool to enhance, rather than replace, human creativity. We will need to develop a robust legislative agenda if we are to have our voices heard. That can only happen with the full participation of all musicians. This is an existential crisis for all of us. Without addressing these difficult issues, we will continue to see our work diminish as instrument replacement technology advances and leaves us behind.

    I am pleased to announce that the International Executive Board has agreed to engage a consultant to facilitate our long-term strategic planning process. This decision reflects our dedication to actively shape the Federation’s future and ensure that we continue to be a strong advocate for our members in the constantly changing music industry. I believe that this collaboration will lead to a clear plan for the AFM’s future.

    Following the International Executive Board meeting, IEB members and department directors met with the leaders of the Locals’ Conference Council (LCC) and Players’ Conference Council (PCC). The LCC consists of leadership from all the AFM local conferences and essentially represents the entire AFM membership. The PCC consists of leadership from all the player conferences representing AFM symphonic, recording, and theater and touring musicians. Since the early ’90s, during years without an AFM Convention, conference representatives have met with AFM leadership to discuss issues relevant to their specific members.

    During the LCC report, a variety of questions and concerns were addressed. The goal of the LCC is to gather information and provide suggestions to support local officers in carrying out their responsibilities within the AFM. The main topics of discussion included the formation of a legislative committee to share resources and assist in state legislative efforts, current and potential organizing campaigns, education and training for local officers, updates on Federation staffing, long-term strategic planning, and a discussion about the AFM website and InTune IT. The interactions between LCC delegates and AFM representatives were highly informative and greatly appreciated.

    The PCC reports provided valuable insights into the achievements and challenges faced by their respective groups. They also discussed how to support the organizing and educating of members, and shared experiences in negotiations and other activities over the past year.

    The LCC-PCC meeting is an invaluable resource that bridges the gap between international conventions and provides attending delegates with updated information they can share with their locals and constituent groups. It is yet another example of the democratic structure of our union and the opportunities that we will continue to offer regarding member participation and involvement.

    July marks the end of my first year in office, and I am proud of the work this administration has accomplished and grateful for the gifted staff that works tirelessly for the benefit of our members. I am building an administration that will provide tangible resources to strengthen member empowerment through organizing and education. We need to grow and strengthen our union, and when we stand together, great things happen.

    Locals’ Conference Representatives (L-R): Professional Musicians of California President Kale Cumings, Professional Musicians of Texas Secretary Aaron Pino, Eastern Conference of Musicians President Anthony Scally, Western Conference Secretary Tammy Noreyko, New England Conference Secretary Candace Lammers, AFM President Tino Gagliardi, Mid-States Conference of Musicians President Dan Cerveny, Southern Conference President Aaron Lack, Illinois State Conference Vice President BJ Levy, and Mid-America Conference President Leonard DiCosimo. (Not pictured: Mid-America Conference Secretary Martin Borton.)

    Players’ Conference Representatives (L-R): ROPA President Steve Wade, ICSOM Chair Keith Carrick, AFM President Tino Gagliardi, TMA At-Large Delegate Nancy Chaklos, OCSM President Robert Fraser, and RMA President Marc Sazer.

    Read More

    AFM Participates in FIM Executive Committee Meeting

    I was honored to represent the AFM at the International Federation of Musicians (FIM) 114th Executive Committee Meeting in Bucharest, Romania, May 23-24. FIM brings together musician unions from all corners of the globe. Members of the executive committee discussed issues that affect musicians worldwide, including the environment, equality, exploitation of recorded music, and artificial intelligence (AI).

    Climate Change and Other Environmental Issues—FIM and its member unions must be aware of these challenges and participate in collective efforts to protect our environment, address the climate crisis, and secure conditions for sustainable development. Our work, and the conditions under which it is delivered, may contribute to solving or aggravating these issues. We should look at the profession of musician and the possibility to make it evolve toward a more environmentally friendly practice that positively impacts climate change. Initiatives taken in this regard must consider and respect the interests of the musicians we represent as workers, especially regarding the benefits they have acquired through collective bargaining or other means.

    Implementing Collective Bargaining Rights in Arts and Entertainment—The International Labour Organization (ILO) technical meeting on the future of work in the arts and entertainment sector highlighted the importance of social dialogue and collective bargaining to ensure a decent future of work in the arts and entertainment sector. The meeting specifically requested the office to “provide policy guidance on the implementation of the right of collective bargaining in the sector.” Social dialogue, including collective bargaining, is a fundamental tool for building a sustainable industry that facilitates equal access to technologies, fosters entrepreneurship, and promotes effective and inclusive labor market institutions and a safe and healthy work environment.

    The full realization of the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining still meets some obstacles. These include fragmentation in representation and coverage of trade unions and employers’ organizations and the ability of workers in the sector to engage in collective bargaining and representation.

    Work Plan on Copyright in the Digital Environment—The AFM is committed to continuing its participation as a nongovernmental organization in the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) activities. WIPO “umbrella” internet treaties of the 1990s are insufficient to address challenges from global service providers and on-demand services, and AI. The laws and institutions of member states do not provide the necessary balance and protection for copyright and related rights.

    The executive committee proposed future studies and debate topics ranging from market practices adopted by global service providers, including the rules for transfers and assignments of rights, and analysis of the level of transparency both in the availability and recommendation of content for ordinary citizens who use the Internet, and in the remuneration criteria for works, performances, and creations.

    Adoption of a FIM Statement on AI—We will soon welcome the EU AI Act. It is the first attempt by a major regulator to harness the unfettered use of AI and AI models. Despite the tech industry’s resistance to regulation, this technology and its use have long-ranging implications for individuals, society, creators, and cultural diversity. It is important to ensure AI develops in a way that respects fundamental principles and is a tool to enhance, not replace, human creativity. Implementation of the AI Act will only serve as a temporary fix for a much larger problem, unless legal ambiguities are addressed.

    The music sector is regularly confronted with disruptive technological innovations that impact the industry, the public, and artists. Certain historical changes, perceived today as progress, could destabilize performers’ jobs, weaken their income, and profoundly modify their work. This was the case with radio, LPs, cassettes, CDs, computer music, downloading and streaming, and now, artificial intelligence.

    AI ingests and analyzes performers’ works, voices, images, likenesses, and styles. It can use this data to put out new content at a scale that is an objective threat to the careers and livelihoods of all present and future artists. Innovative remuneration mechanisms should be considered. Any AI-assisted generation of content should be subject to fair payments to the performers whose work and talents constitute the knowledge base.

    Recent AI services available to the public translate into a competitive and fast-growing market with strategic implications and considerable profit prospects. However, this new ecosystem is not regulated by any adequate framework protecting the community of creators whose work and talents are exploited in proportions beyond comprehension. The existing copyright and neighboring rights normative frameworks were not designed to address the particular problems posed today by generative AI.

    To the extent that AI-generated content draws its value from human creations exploited on a large scale, it is entirely relevant to consider mandatory compensation mechanisms benefiting the creative community, to be applied to all generative AI tools.

    After attending the FIM meeting, I realized how interconnected the values and aspirations of musicians in the global music industry are. We can benefit from sharing our stories and working together to address our everyday concerns.

    A group of people posing for a photo

Description automatically generatedAFM International President Tino Gagliardi, far left, at the FIM Executive Committee Meeting in Bucharest, Romania.

    Read More

    AFM Launches Workplace Safety Initiatives

    Since becoming AFM president, I have met with members all across the Federation and there is one common theme: if we want to grow, if we want more work opportunities, and a more inclusive industry, we need to change the culture and how we do business.

    Safe Workplaces

    In the following months the AFM will launch its safe workplaces initiative and training. There are too many times when members don’t feel safe and protected from harassment in the workplace. It’s time to change the culture. I’m announcing the following steps:

    • We will bargain a requirement that employers provide meaningful harassment training to workers, and we will review the materials and training provided. We urge all AFM locals to do the same in their local agreements.
    • The AFM will create a hotline where anyone can report unsafe working conditions and get access to help, no matter where they work.
    • We will provide additional training for locals about how to handle complaints and require that all our employers provide for a safe and healthy work environment. Preconference officer training modules have been set for 2024 regional conferences, including a local officer mental health module in compliance with direction from the 102nd AFM Convention.
    • We will take a new approach to member-on-member complaints, prioritizing meritorious claims rather than automatically filing grievances for the sake of process.
    • Workplace protection is a complex problem that requires allies and partnerships. We’ll expand our work with the Entertainment Community Fund and work collaboratively with other unions in our industry to help create a better culture.

    Union Business

    As you have probably heard, the public support for unions is at a record high. We cannot, must not, miss this moment to capitalize and grow while the public is with us. Over the last few months, we’ve seen exciting growth and change from unions across the country. The United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) has made bold plans to organize the Deep South. Recently, they won a decisive and historic victory at the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee. In the entertainment world, Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) united the industry and won important new contract gains.

    There is much we can learn from how other unions are growing and changing and the Federation must also grow and adapt with the times if we are to remain relevant. That’s why we’re exploring retaining an outside consultant to review all of the Federation’s operations and see how we can grow and modernize to better serve members. That process will also include getting feedback from rank-and-file members like you.

    Watch for more on this in the months ahead.

    Contract Wins

    In our negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) for new Basic Theatrical Motion Picture and Basic Television Motion Picture agreements, we changed how we negotiated, bringing members further into the bargaining process and earlier than ever before. We also noted important gains in our new Pamphlet B and Short Engagement Tour (SET) agreements with Broadway League and Disney Theatrical Productions. There are additional details about these agreements on page 12.

    I am excited for our future. The public is with us. We must embrace this moment for growth and change.


    2024 Conference Schedule

    • April 28-28     Western Conference, Boise, ID
    • May 4-5          Eastern Conference, King of Prussia, PA
    • June 15-16      LCC/PCC Conference, Detroit, MI
    • June 22-23      Southern Conference, Austin, TX
    • June 28-30      Canadian Conference, Montreal, PQ
    • July 30-Aug 1 ROPA Conference, San Francisco, CA
    • August 12-15 OCSM Conference, Kitchener, ON
    • August 21-24 ICSOM Conference, Portland, OR
    • October 12-13  Midwest Conference, Chicago, IL

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    AFM Builds International Solidarity

    If we have learned anything over the past few years it is the importance of building solidarity and alliances both nationally and internationally. In today’s interconnected world, the music industry transcends borders. Musicians tour globally, collaborate internationally, and can easily reach fans around the world.

    We look to organizations like the International Federation of Musicians (FIM) to build global solidarity. FIM, founded in 1948, has 70 members spread throughout 60 countries. By forming alliances with international union counterparts, musicians can create a stronger voice to address issues that impact their livelihood.

    The AFM has long been involved with this voice for musicians worldwide. I personally have been an AFM delegate to FIM going back to 2011. It is always an honor to represent the AFM on the world stage.

    A significant majority of music that is consumed globally is the product of American musicians and it is important that we make sure our voices are heard and that we are compensated fairly for our work. I will be attending the FIM Congress in Bucharest in May and will report back when I return. In October, FIM will also be hosting the International Orchestra Conference in Malmö, Sweden. I am proud to report that AFM Symphonic Services Division (SSD) will take a principal role in the conference, led by SSD Director Rochelle Skolnick.

    As part of a global economy, it is important to advocate for strong international policies and protections for musicians on topics such as the use of artificial intelligence, fair compensation for streaming, regulations related to travel, workplace protections that effect all musicians, and international royalty collection and copyright protections. As a nongovernmental organization, the AFM holds influence for the potential of creating fairer compensation, improved working conditions, and a more equitable landscape for musicians around the world.

    To that end, once again, the AFM will be participating in a United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Conference on the Global Digital Content Market in Geneva, Switzerland. The conference will take place in April, and I will be joined by Jennifer Garner, AFM in-house counsel. Garner has been working with the AFM for more than a decade on issues of royalty collection and intellectual property rights. Because of the amount of music our members create and distribute, it is important that we are well represented.

    Also on the international front, there will be a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) webinar on “Travel Rules for Protected Species and Musical Instruments” on May 7 at 3 p.m. (EST). Crossing international borders with musical instruments that contain protected species, such as ivory, rosewood, tortoise shell, and other endangered material requires special permits and advanced planning.

    Held in collaboration with the League of American Orchestras, the free one-hour session is open to AFM members. It will provide updates on requirements for musicians traveling abroad with their instruments from US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) experts. USFWS is the agency that implements CITES in the United States. The event will not only review the basics but also provide important insights into ways you can support conservation by being informed of rules specific to musicians and their instruments. Watch for a registration link at a later date.

    Read More

    AMPTP and Pamphlet B Negotiation Updates

    I am pleased to announce we’ve reached a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers Association on the most recent Basic Theatrical Motion Picture and Basic Television Motion Picture contracts. After the initial 10 days of negotiations in January, we returned to the bargaining table February 21 and 22 determined to secure our core demands. And in the early hours of February 23, we did it! We have secured historic breakthroughs in streaming residuals, established critical guardrails against the misuse of AI, gained meaningful wage increases, and secured other important gains. The agreement, unanimously recommended by the bargaining committee, represents a significant victory for musicians working in film and television.

    I want to congratulate the negotiating team, the steering committee and all the bargaining unit members who supported our campaign and commend them on their undiminished commitment to fighting for a contract that fairly compensates us for our invaluable contributions to film and TV. The AFM Fair Share for Musicians committee’s dedication and resolve ensured that the needs of AFM members were heard and addressed. It was this resolve, solidarity, and commitment that enabled our union to get the respect, compensation, and protection we all deserve. This was a data driven negotiation, but our bargaining positions were strengthened by our team members’ real life experiences and the intimate knowledge of the work that we do.

    I also want to thank our staff and legal counsel for their tireless work and assiduity that enabled us to accomplish our goals. Everyone’s hard work is a testament to the commitment to making the lives of all musicians better and raising the standards for our agreements.

    We were not alone in these negotiations and were proud to have the full backing of fellow unions: SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, Teamsters, and the Writers Guild of America. It was yet another powerful reminder that, when we have solidarity in the labor movement, we can achieve great things.

    Earlier in January, we reached a tentative agreement with representatives of the Broadway League and Disney Theatrical Productions for new Pamphlet B and Short Engagement Touring (SET) contracts. We are now finalizing the documents and will send them out to the bargaining unit in the coming weeks. Our members who work under these touring contracts will see many improvements, including salary, health care, and pension contributions.

    It was the hard work and input of our negotiating team and our staff that provided the strength and representation needed to achieve our goals in these negotiations.

    Once language is finalized on both agreements, they will be sent to the respective bargaining unit members for ratification. We are proud to have achieved groundbreaking success in these negotiations and look forward to the ratification of these agreements by the members who work under these contracts.

    But in the meantime, let’s celebrate these victories! These successful negotiations are a testament to our talent and dedication to solidarity. Together, we’ve reinforced the value of our contribution and artistry to the entertainment industry.

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