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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Home » Music Business » Revamped Freelance Resources Support Independent Musicians


Revamped Freelance Resources Support Independent Musicians

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Wages Argott

by Wages Argott, AFM Director of Freelance Services and Membership Development

As we reach the close of 2022, my first full calendar year at the helm of our Freelance Services Department, I can’t help but find encouragement and sense a large measure of hope for our freelance musician community. Rather than waiting for the industry to bend back into a long-forgotten shape and return to a dated definition of “normal,” I’m constantly encountering members and local officers who are carving their own path and taking ownership of their artistic livelihood, whatever the market and wherever they may be.

It’s clearer than ever that the path forward for musicians is a united front for improved working conditions and a strong stand against unfair treatment. Through the Federation, we have an international collection of the finest musicians in the United States and Canada, joined by a single ideal: performing the artistic craft we love with dignity and respect, fair compensation, and equitable conditions. Independent musicians are just that—independent. But there’s a difference between making the journey alone and being empowered to stand on your own with the backing of over 60,000 Federation members, local officers, executive officers, and staff.

Freelance Co-funding Assistance for Locals

Your local officers are always working on your behalf. There is a great deal of administrative work with running a local and various agreements and contracts to negotiate and maintain within your jurisdictions. Your local leadership is also constantly reaching out to find new ways to support and enhance the lives of freelance musicians.

This year, the Freelance Services department received almost 50% more requests from locals for Freelance Co-funding than in 2021, itself a record year. I’m inspired by the creative ideas for new initiatives, and I admire the lengths the officers go to make sure no existing programs or benefits are cut, despite less income as we dig out of the post-pandemic recession. Many locals reached out to improve their websites or build new ones to better communicate with their membership and streamline processes to direct resources for more pressing needs. Some projects I undertook this year were simply too big and involved for one individual to handle. I’m so impressed with the great volunteer work of many local officers and inspired members who collaborated to see these ideas brought to life.

Venuology

After months of creative brainstorming, healthy debate, and some very tedious data entry, a rebuilt version of our venue review site, Venuology (venuology.org), will go live early in 2023. Our legacy Venuology site still exists at venuology.com. Reviews for venues that are still operating will continue as they are moved to the new site. Users may register anonymously for a new account and submit new venues for listing by an administrator or review one of the venues already listed. With integrated location features and deeper review criteria, musicians will be able to use this valuable tool to plan tours for their acts.

AFM Entertainment

One Freelance Services Department web tool that has already made a triumphant return (quietly via a soft launch) is our international online booking agency, AFM Entertainment. Accessible via AFMentertainment.org, it is an online marketplace and talent-booking portal for our roster of the finest professional musicians in the United States and Canada. After an arduous repair process, all functionality has been restored to the site. We’re standing by to receive new act submissions, updates to existing acts, and connect buyers with our talent from the daily stream of inquiries we receive. During my relatively brief tenure in this position, I’ve had two primary concerns with our online booking platform: base functionality issues (now repaired) and a limited roster of featured musicians that doesn’t fully represent the Federation’s rich depth of musical diversity. The latter will be up to you, our members, to correct by creating profiles and submitting them for review. We stand ready to connect our buyers with our outstanding AFM musicians. If we prove successful and continue to be viable, I want to pursue an upgrade to modernize the look of the site and add better scaling for optimum viewing on all devices.

Working Musicians

I want to stress that even though many freelance musicians relish the thrill and variety of being in business for themselves, this doesn’t mean you must swim alone in a sea of competing musicians trying to reach your own island. All our musicians, no matter what work they do, are stronger together. While being your own boss can be liberating, it also leads to a lot of uncertainty and there still is quite a bit of mystery to navigating the music business. Please read the brief article, “Tips to Succeed at the Business of Music,” on page 16, which details some of the ways our department supports and empowers freelance musicians, as well as provides tips on some of the more subtle nuances of being an independent musician.

Embarking on a career as an independent musician can be as exhilarating as it is frustrating. Always remember to share your successes and failures with your musical community. Our Federation unites thousands of musicians with a common goal and passion. When you encounter obstacles, find strength in your deep network of musical colleagues, local officers, and executive leadership who wield knowledge gained from a lifetime of dedication and experience. Some of them have likely faced and overcome many of the same challenges. My lines of communication are always open, and I’m always willing to support you in any way possible.







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