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



jay blumenthal

Jay Blumenthal – AFM International Secretary-Treasurer

    Convention-Directed Study Commences, Staffing Changes in New York City Headquarters

    The delegates to the 2019 AFM Convention passed substitute Resolution No. 9 that directs the international president and the international secretary-treasurer to “commence a study regarding establishing and implementing more efficient and uniform tools and procedures for the administration of AFM electronic media contracts, to decrease the expense of collecting, processing, and remitting payments to the Federation, and maximize the effectiveness of the delivery of services to affected members.”
    The study began on September 11, when AFM President Hair and I, along with EMSD Director Pat Varriale and EMSD Assistant Director John Painting, met in Toronto with AFM Vice President from Canada Alan Willaert, AFM Canadian office Executive Director Liana White and AFM Canadian office Electronic Media Supervisor Daniel Calabrese to discuss the process and procedures for the handling of electronic media contracts in the Canadian office.
    Following the meeting, Hair, Varriale, Painting, and I went to the Toronto Musicians’ Association Local 149 to meet with Executive Director Michael Murray and Treasurer Andy Morris, along with Local 149 President Linda Cara and Secretary Charlie Gray. Andy has developed electronic media database software for the local that has led to efficiencies in the processing of EMSD contracts and expedited payments to musicians. Our visit included a full demonstration showing the capabilities of this software.
    It is our intention to confer with the Recording Musicians Association (RMA) and collect information from various other locals where electronic media work is performed to better understand their electronic media procedures and the software they use to accomplish the task of administering electronic media contracts and collecting and remitting payments to the Federation. Ultimately, it is our goal to “decrease the expense of collecting, processing, and remitting payments to the Federation, and maximize the effectiveness of the delivery of services to affected members.”

    Staff Change

    AFM Information Systems Manager Walter Lopez will be leaving the AFM and moving with his family to a new home and job in Florida. It is an understatement to say that Walter will be missed.
    He was very involved with our recent move to the ninth floor where he collaborated with the architects who planned the new space and the outside vendors who installed the IT infrastructure to meet our present and future IT needs. New cabling throughout the space, a central and secure IT server room, boardroom and meeting room teleconferencing, new copy machines, a new telephone system, and many other technological improvements fell within Walter’s purview. He also negotiated many of the contracts covering outside vendor IT services, which now contain more favorable terms for the AFM.
    Besides our AFM New York City headquarters, Walter oversaw our technology and IT operational needs for the AFM Canadian office in Toronto, the AFM West Coast office in Burbank, and our AFM Legislative office in Washington, DC. During his seven-year tenure, Walter continually remained focused on securing our AFM systems to protect member information. We wish Walter and his family all the best in his new position and thank him for his dedicated service to our members.
    Working side by side with Walter for the past four years has been Michael Ramos, AFM information system support specialist. Michael will move up to become our new information systems manager.
    Michael was involved throughout our recent move to the ninth floor, so he knows our current IT systems and, having been present for the 2016 and 2019 AFM Conventions at the Westgate Hotel in Las Vegas, he has experience with our off-site technology requirements. Michael has hit the ground running in his new role. Please contact Michael for IT needs at ext. 270.

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    Hurricane Season Is Upon Us

    Now that we are well into hurricane season, I wanted
    to inform the membership about AFM Recommendation No. 2 that was adopted at the
    recent AFM Convention. I bring your attention to the italicized portion below,
    which is the new language that amends Article 5, Section 47(a) of the AFM

    “SECTION 47(a). Each Local shall pay to the AFM Per
    Capita Dues at the rate of $66 per annum for each Regular, Student and Youth
    member and $50 per annum for each Life member in good standing with the Local.
    Federation Per Capita Dues shall include the subscription fee of $2 for the
    Official Journal, a contribution of 10
    cents to the Lester Petrillo Memorial Fund as required to maintain the Fund at
    a balance of no less than $500,000, and a contribution of 10 cents to the AFM
    Emergency Relief Fund as required to maintain the Fund at a balance of $100,000

    This additional language will help fund the AFM
    Emergency Relief Fund, allowing the AFM to provide assistance not only for
    hurricanes, but for earthquakes, tornadoes, and wildfires as well. There are
    criteria that must be met in order to be considered for financial assistance:

    • You must currently be a member in good standing of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada as well as a member in good standing at the time of the loss;

    • You must have resided in, or been employed as a professional musician in, a county affected by an emergency or major disaster proclamation (examples: wildfire, tornado), by a governor or the president (in the case of Canada, a provincial state of emergency declaration) prior to and during the occurrence of the circumstances giving rise to such proclamation;

    • You must have suffered one of the hardships (described in the application) as a result of the disaster that is not reimbursable by insurance.

    As we begin to experience the very real effects of climate
    change, we are seeing very large and severe storms on a regular basis that were
    once referred to as “once in a lifetime” or “storm of the century” events. The
    recent Category 5 hurricane Dorian tore its way through the Bahamas leaving a
    devastating path of destruction and then made its way up the eastern seaboard.
    The destruction was sobering to say the least. I urge our members to heed the
    warnings to evacuate if you ever find yourself in the path of one of these
    monsters. Nothing is worth saving more than your life and the lives of your
    loved ones, so please stay out of harm’s way.

    If you experience an uninsured catastrophic loss due to one of these natural disasters and meet the criteria on the application to be considered for AFM assistance, please visit the homepage of the AFM website and scroll down to Emergency Assistance.

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    Take a Look at Our New AFM Headquarters

    This issue of International Musician features some photos recently taken at the AFM office in New York which moved into new office space on the ninth floor at 1501 Broadway on April 1, 2019. The office consists of 18,332 rentable square feet (RSF). RSF is a term of art in that it includes square footage that cannot actually be utilized, such as a percentage of the common areas of the building (e.g. hallways, lobbies, and common restrooms). The ninth floor at 1501 had to be completely remodeled and the architectural firm of Loffredo Brooks was engaged to design our new space.

    The old lease for the
    sixth-floor office expired requiring a move-out date no later than March 31,
    2019. Any holdover meant we would incur a financial penalty. Even though the
    new space was not completely finished, we moved in during the last weekend in
    March. Our new lease is for 15 years and 10 months. We pay half rent for the
    first 10 months as part of the deal. After 10 years, the AFM has the option to
    leave if the real estate market presents a great purchase opportunity. While we
    would incur some costs if we leave at the 10-year mark (for the unamortized
    cost of construction that was paid by the landlord), we wanted to preserve the

    The move went smoothly
    but we did experience one major hiccup. The telephone line from the basement of
    the building to the ninth floor had mysteriously been cut which resulted in a
    nearly two week delay before we had full telephone service. With this one
    exception, the move went well.

    afm headquarters
    Secretary-Treasurer Jay Blumenthal in his new office.

    The new glass entry
    doors proudly display the AFM seal and lead to the reception desk and a waiting
    area. The office is bright and cheery with windows along the perimeter
    (Broadway, West 43rd St. and West 44th St.) overlooking Times Square—the
    crossroads of the world. The new office features a slightly larger boardroom to
    hold collective bargaining negotiations. It has banquette seating along one of
    the walls which can now accommodate attendance by musician negotiating
    committees. We also have two conference rooms; one conference room can
    accommodate six people and the other eight people. These rooms will be used for
    caucuses during negotiations and meetings at other times. The boardroom and
    both conference rooms are equipped with the latest technology to support video
    conferencing. Virtual meetings, when appropriate, help the AFM save on
    traveling expenses.

    years, our dedicated staff endured a very cramped kitchen/lunchroom area. The
    new kitchen/lunchroom has five tables with chairs. Two small alcoves contain
    banquette seating with tables for more private conversations. The one microwave
    oven which overheated regularly in the old space has been replaced with two new
    higher-powered microwaves. A new refrigerator, dishwasher, small ice maker, and
    water cooler complete the space.

    A small wellness room
    with a reclining chair is intended to provide a place for a short, private
    respite for someone who is not feeling well.

    Our sole tenant, the
    Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF), occupies their own space within our
    office. It contains three private offices and a common area with a work

    So if you are in New York
    City, please stop by to see your new home. I think you will like what you see.

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    The Formation of AFM Bylaws

    The committee
    process developed for AFM Conventions that vets recommendations and resolutions
    has served the Federation well for numerous decades. Submitting resolutions by
    the March 1 deadline in a convention year provides an opportunity for them to
    be printed and published prior to the convention. Resolutions are then assigned
    to an appropriate convention committee. At the convention, committee chairs
    announce to the attendees the time, place, and which resolution(s) the
    committee will be discussing that day. Proponents can go before the committee
    and speak in favor of the resolution and opponents can speak against the
    resolution with time allowed for questions from the committee members.

    committees often spend many hours discussing and debating the pros and cons of
    recommendations and resolutions. There are times when a resolution may have
    unintended consequences that were unanticipated by those who submitted it. All
    of the ramifications of a resolution must be taken into account by the
    committee. Once the committee has completed their discussion, a vote of the
    committee is taken to determine what the committee will recommend to the

    When the
    convention is in session, the committee chair first makes a report to the
    delegates, sharing some of their discussion and reasons for how they arrived at
    their recommendation. There are several options the committee may suggest. They
    may recommend its adoption, suggest an amendment, or recommend it be defeated.
    Sometimes the committee may suggest a substitute resolution or even suggest
    that those submitting the resolution withdraw it. (Proponents wishing to
    withdraw their resolution must request permission from the assembly to withdraw
    it. This requires a majority vote or general consent, i.e. without objection.)
    At times, a committee may recommend a resolution be referred to the
    International Executive Board. At this point, delegates have an opportunity to
    debate the resolution. At the close of debate, the delegates vote on the

    In the event of
    an emergency, the bylaws allow for an emergency resolution to be introduced to
    the convention. The framers of the bylaws took emergencies into consideration
    allowing for the ability of delegates to address real emergencies but requiring
    a two-thirds majority vote to introduce the emergency resolution to the convention.
    There are indeed times when an important issue comes to light after the March 1
    submission date. A good example of this took place at the recent convention,
    when the Baltimore Symphony musicians were locked out by their management after
    the March 1 date. The delegates wanted to make a strong statement in support of
    the BSO musicians, and an emergency resolution was necessary in order to do so.

    That said, there
    were some emergency resolutions that were put forth at the convention that in
    my opinion were not actual emergencies. Since emergency resolutions do not go
    through the same careful vetting process (in committee) that normal resolutions
    do, these last-minute resolutions can be a cause for concern. A momentary knee
    jerk reaction can leave us with an ill-considered bylaw that cannot be changed
    until the next convention. This is only meant as a word of caution for the next
    convention if a questionable “emergency” resolution is proposed.

    Now that the convention
    is over, we will be moving forward with a new printing of the AFM bylaws which
    will include the changes to the bylaws adopted at the convention. In addition,
    there will be a proceedings booklet that will include the convention minutes
    and the roll call.

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    Division in a Union Is Like Kryptonite

    It’s a challenge writing this month’s column since
    it is being written before the AFM Convention and published after the
    convention. Having attended many AFM conventions, I’ve learned that much can
    happen. There are often several unanticipated twists, turns, and unexpected
    issues that come before the delegates. This is all part of the democratic
    process. At times it can get quite messy, but ultimately it’s a very healthy
    process for our union.

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