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 » Officer Columns » RMA Represents AFM’s Recording Musicians, a Year in Review

RMA Represents AFM’s Recording Musicians, a Year in Review


by Marc Sazer, President Recording Musicians Association (RMA) and Member of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA)

We have been involved in a variety of efforts to advance the interests of AFM recording musicians over the course of this year. Looking back, it is difficult to know where to begin.

The Recording Musicians Association (RMA) participated in a trip to New Orleans to try to gauge the needs and opportunities for union organizing in that profoundly musical city. Music drips from every wall and corner, and there is also a lively recording scene. Louisiana has generous film and television tax credits, so all kinds of filming and production runs away to Louisiana locations. But there is also a sound recording tax credit, as well as credits in place for touring musical theater. 

An RMA committee made up of Rafael Rishik of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA), Tom Wild of Local 257 (Nashville, TN), Gail Kruvand of Local 802 (New York City), and I, made inquiries, and undertook research. In coordination with a visit from AFM President Ray Hair and AFM Director of Organizing & Education Paul Frank, three of us traveled to NOLA this January. We learned a great deal, met a number of wonderful musicians, were hosted by gracious Local 174-496 (New Orleans, LA) officers, and identified a number of real challenges faced by musicians working in that great musical city.

RMA has also participated in a wide variety of political and industry activities. Bruce Bouton of Local 257 represented AFM recording musicians at Grammys on the Hill; Bouton, Andy Schwartz of Local 802, and Gail Kruvand attended the Future of Music Coalition; while Local 47 member Andy Malloy, Rafael Rishik, and I attended the Hollywood Reporter/Billboard Film & TV Music Conference.

Beginning in February, we participated in negotiations between the AFM and the advertising industry for the newly concluded Commercial Announcements Agreement—jingles contract. From February until the first week of June, we held a number of negotiating sessions. The contract we concluded contains improvements, and while employment in jingles has diminished dramatically over the course of the years, those musicians who work under the agreement will see positive changes.

RMA has been deeply involved in the new AFM focus on organizing. We participate in the AFM Organizing Committee, chaired by Local 802 Recording Vice President John O’Connor, and we also have our own RMA Organizing Committee, comprised of Rafael Rishik, Tom Wild, Gail Kruvand, and myself. A number of us have also been deeply involved in the AFM Listen Up! organizing campaign.

We have participated in meetings at the AFL-CIO in Washington, DC, at the LA County Federation of Labor, at AFM local offices, and in the living rooms and kitchens of working musicians. Perhaps that is all in reverse order—talking with musicians themselves has to come first. 

One of the cornerstones of Listen Up! is holding film and television production companies accountable for responsible employment when they receive our tax dollars. On a parallel track, we have been involved in a joint industry-labor coalition to make tax credits more meaningful in California. We both support incentive-based jobs programs, and demand that those jobs not be off-shored.

The alliances that we have both joined and built have reached deep into the political, labor, and community organizations of our various cities. In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti has come out in support of Listen Up!, along with a growing number of local and state elected officials. In Atlanta, New York City, and other locations, Listen Up! has held actions, and support is growing.

We have also entered into a dialogue with musicians in New York from the Content Creators Coalition, a national group of musical artists seeking legitimate compensation for their livelihoods that have been swallowed up by Spotify, Google, and others. 

There are exciting opportunities before us in pursuing common goals on behalf of recording musicians. At the same time, we have worked to participate in actions and discussions with sister unions both within and outside the entertainment industry. From participating in panels on tax credits with actors, grips, and writers, to helping plan mobilization efforts with dozens of other unions at the LA County Federation of Labor, we have deepened our longstanding commitment to work closely together.

On behalf of RMA, the Listen Up! campaign, and the AFM, our participation in this broader labor movement brings resources, allies, friends along, and strengthens musicians. Listen Up!—we will continue to help AFM musicians pursue good union employment, at industry standards.

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