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.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE AFM

Secretary-Treasurer

jay blumenthal

Jay Blumenthal – AFM International Secretary-Treasurer

    The International Musician Survey Results Are In!

    The International Musician survey results are in. A total of 4,254 individuals completed the survey and much was learned from those who participated. Below is some general information about those responding and their IM reading habits.

    IM Survey Statistics

    International Musician Survey Results

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    • Almost every local has members who responded (174 locals responded; 13 locals had no members respond).
    • Respondents overwhelmingly work as full-time, professional musicians, but some are students or retired. (78% of respondents identify as professional musicians, 13% identify as retired, 6% as amateur, and 2% as students)
    • Respondents, like our membership, work everywhere there is music. Approximately half identify as freelancers. In the past year, 51% have primarily worked as freelancers, 21% in symphonies, 11% in teaching, 5% in recording, 4% in theaters, and 8% have not worked as a musician. (See genre chart at right for more specific information.)
    • 89% of respondents regularly read the magazine. (At least every two or three months)
    • Most International Musician respondents read half or more of the magazine. (54% of those reading IM every two to three months)
    • Most respondents (73%) would prefer to read International Musician in print, if they had to choose between print or online versions.
    • Overwhelmingly, International Musician respondents rated the magazine good or excellent. Content (79%), cover (84%), ease of reading (82%), layout and design (77%), and writing (76%) were rated “good” or “excellent.”
    • Musicians are always looking for their next gig and most never miss reading the audition ads, but the majority of International Musician respondents enjoy [most] all the sections. Every section was rated “very much enjoy, always read” or “enjoy, read occasionally” by a majority—54% to 89%. (See table on right for section details.)
    • Cover stories are the most popular content. (89% “very much enjoy, always read” or “enjoy, read occasionally”)
    • But not everyone loves everything. Some respondents would like more content about the genres they work in and/or less content about genres they are not involved in. That’s why we are always sure to represent the diversity of our membership and cover a variety of musicians and genres.

    International Musician Suggestions from Survey Respondents

    International Musician Survey Results

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    • More practical career advice

    • More content that features “regular” working musicians

    • Less procedural, bureaucratic, and organizational detail (This was the most common area respondents did not care for or wanted to see less of in International Musician.

    [Publisher’s Note: As the IM is the official journal of the AFM, publishing new rules or regulations, notices, agreements, etc. is a necessary and vital function of the IM.]

    • Travel and touring content

    Thanks to everyone who took the time to respond to the survey. It is our desire to make the IM as relevant and interesting to our readers as possible. We always welcome your comments and suggestions.

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    AFM Updates Sexual Harassment Policy

    Sexual harassment is a form of illegal discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. At the March AFM International Executive Board meeting, the board adopted an updated sexual harassment policy that is unambiguous and instructive. The policy applies to all AFM employees whether they work in our New York City, Los Angeles, Toronto, or Washington, DC, offices, as well as those AFM employees who work “on the road” (international representatives and negotiators/organizers).

    The updated policy is one part of a three-part initiative in response to heightened awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace. This initiative includes: (1) updates to the AFM sexual harassment policy, establishing zero tolerance for sexual harassment; (2) training on the new policy for all AFM staff, with an emphasis on preventing sexual harassment, recognizing it when it occurs, and reporting it to AFM leadership so it can be dealt with appropriately; and (3) providing guidance for AFM local officers who receive complaints from members about sexual harassment occurring in AFM-represented workplaces.

    sexual harassment

    AFM Director of Symphonic Services and Special Counsel Rochelle Skolnick is leading the training for US AFM employees. She has also created a training module for local officers and will be presenting it at AFM regional conferences this year. Skolnick observes, “We are at a moment as a society when there is less tolerance than ever before for the sexualization of workplace interactions, ranging from off-color banter to abuse of power in an attempt to attain sexual control. By providing these resources to all AFM staff and local officers, the AFM takes a strong stand against abusive behavior and in support of a workplace culture that values the full participation of all individuals.”

    The first staff training sessions took place April 4 in the AFM New York City office. Copies of the Sexual Harassment policy were distributed to those attending, followed by a 30-minute training presentation. Attendance at one of the two sessions was mandatory. Additional sessions will be held for the Los Angeles and Washington, DC, offices. There will be virtual training presentations (via GoToMeeting) for AFM staff who work on the road.

    The AFM Canadian Office staff attended a Toronto workshop entitled “Respect in the Workplace,” presented by Niagara Street HR Consulting Inc. on April 9. It covered legislation (anti-workplace harassment, sexual harassment, violence, and bullying), employer/employee reporting responsibilities, and how to report. The workshop also covered Ontario Labour and Employment law and gave an overview of the Canada Labour code.

    The AFM is firmly committed to a workplace environment that is free from sexual harassment. Training AFM employees serves to educate our staff and sends a strong and clear message that sexual harassment will not be tolerated. 

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    Updates From the Secretary-Treasurer's Desk

    List of Locals

    Recently the List of Locals booklet was updated and uploaded to the afm.org website. We are in the process of mailing hard copies of the 2018 booklets to all AFM locals. If you have not received your office copies yet, they should be arriving soon. Changes to the List of Locals are updated on our website regularly and are announced in the International Musician. Any changes to your local’s information should be sent by email to AFM Executive Assistant Nadine Sylvester (nsylvester@afm.org) with a copy to AFM Assistant Secretary Jon Ferrone (jferrone@afm.org).

    Disney Campaign

    The campaign to increase pay for many Disneyland workers is underway. It has been reported that some workers cannot make ends meet due to their low wages. Some of them sleep in their cars and shower at the park before starting their shifts. A coalition of unions, including AFM Local 7 (Orange County, CA), have been hard at work shining a light on this intolerable situation. To learn more, see the article by AFM Local 7 President Bob Sanders on page 12 in this issue of the IM.

    Membership

    AFM membership numbers continue to decline. At year end 2016 we had 69,386 members and at year end 2017 we had 67,540 (excluding multiple memberships). This represents a decline of 1,846 members. Declining membership remains a serious challenge. The more members we lose, the weaker we become as a union. Declining density has a direct correlation to diminishing power in the workplace. We must build our membership, if we are to remain healthy and strong. Resolution No. 1, adopted by the 2016 AFM Convention delegates states:

    “… That the AFM implements and makes available an officer training program with the focus on membership retention and recruitment as well as general office procedures, as a means of combating declining Federation membership.”

    The officer training program has begun its second year. Judging from exit survey responses, those who have participated in the training give it high marks. It’s too early to tell if the training program will have the desired positive effect on our membership numbers. Much of the results will depend on training participants putting into practice what they have learned from the program.

    Purchase of a Floor for AFM Office

    After months of negotiations with the seller of a floor within a building in lower Manhattan, the deal has fallen apart. We were very close, but at the eleventh hour, the seller walked. There are currently no other floors available for purchase in lower Manhattan that meet our space requirements. Purchasing space in midtown Manhattan is not an option due to the high prices. As you might imagine, this is very disappointing for both AFM President Ray Hair and me. We are exploring the possibility of leasing space in our current building (but on a different floor) or leasing space in another building. Our current lease expires January 2019.

    Lester Petrillo Fund

    A total of 48 recipients received a distribution from the Lester Petrillo Fund in 2017. These distributions totaled $20,025.

    Hurricane Relief Fund

    The Hurricane Relief Fund (for hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria) received $27,252.55 in PayPal donations, less $904.54 in PayPal fees, leaving $26,348.01. An additional $13,665 in check donations was received, bringing total contributions available for disbursement to $40,013.01. Disbursements to applicants in 2017 totaled $7,000. We continue to receive additional applications for hurricane relief and will continue to make disbursements in 2018.

    Upcoming LCC/PCC Meeting

    The Locals Conferences Council/Player Conferences Council (LCC/PCC) meeting will take place Saturday, June 16 and Sunday, June 17, at the Westgate Hotel in Las Vegas.

    2019 AFM Convention

    The AFM Convention will take place next year (2019) at the Westgate Hotel in Las Vegas. Registration will begin Sunday, June 16, 2019 and the Convention will adjourn Thursday, June 20, 2019.

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    Union Plus Mortgage Company: New Mortgage Option for Union Members

    by Jay Blumenthal, AFM International Secretary-Treasurer

    There is a new and different mortgage brokerage company available to many AFM members: the Union Plus Mortgage Company (UPMC). What makes it different from other mortgage companies is that it is owned by the AFL-CIO, Union Plus, and a group of affiliated unions (including the AFM). The revenue generated by UPMC belongs to the labor movement—not the big banks or Wall Street. UPMC offers a variety of financing options—Federal Housing Administration loans (FHA), VA loans, 15- and 30-year fixed rate loans, and adjustable rate loans.

    Currently, the UPMC is licensed in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington DC, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. If you are seeking to purchase a property in one of these states, the Union Plus Mortgage Company may be an option you wish to consider. To find out if a state where you wish to purchase a property has been added to the list or to learn more, go to the UPMC website www.unionplusmortgage.com.

    One year after obtaining a UMPC mortgage loan, union members can benefit from the Union Plus Mortgage Assistance Program. This program provides hardship mortgage assistance in the event of income loss due to disability, unemployment, or strike/lockout. And a new mortgage customer can expect to receive a $500 Visa gift card after closing!

    “As a mortgage broker, UPMC shops the top lenders in the country to find the best mortgage rates and products for its union customers. The UPMC team members have an average of 18 years’ experience in the mortgage industry, and as the company grows, the staff and loan officers’ right to union representation will be supported and encouraged. The program is available to active and retired union members as well as spouses (or domestic partners), parents, and children of those union members.”

    Note: The AFL-CIO, Union Privilege and a group of unions own Union Plus Mortgage Company and will benefit if you get your loan through the company. However, you are not required to use Union Plus Mortgage for your loan and are free to shop. For your Affiliated Business Arrangement Disclosure Statement please visit www.unionplusmortgage.com.

    IM Ad Revenue and NAMM

    Last year I attended the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Show in Anaheim, California, for the purpose of meeting and thanking our current advertisers and soliciting new advertisers for the International Musician (see “NAMM Show Hits the Mark!” IM March 2017). I’m pleased to report that the leg work at NAMM, done in conjunction with the amazing staff at Bentley-Hall (the company that produces the International Musician) resulted in a 10% increase in IM advertising billing last year, surpassing our 7% goal.

    This positive result played heavily in my decision to attend this year’s show, which took place in January. It’s difficult to know whether this year’s attendance will produce the same positive results as last year, but time will tell.

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    Looking Forward to a Productive 2018

    by Jay Blumenthal, AFM International Secretary-Treasurerjay blumenthal

    As we begin the New Year, AFM President Ray Hair and I continue to negotiate for the possible purchase of a floor in a building that could eventually become our long sought after AFM headquarters. The building is located in downtown Manhattan. While obstacles remain, we continue to explore options that may eventually lead to an agreement. A final decision must be made soon as there is only one year left on our current lease at 1501 Broadway and it may take a good part of a year to build out any newly purchased space.

    Scanning

    A project slated for 2018 (due to the possible move) is the scanning of paper documents in the New York Office. Over decades, the retention of paper has become untenable. Currently, there are approximately 52 five-drawer file cabinets (each 5.5 X 3.5 feet wide) located in the office hallways, along with additional cabinets located in some directors’ offices. We also have off-site storage space that archives older documents needed in the event recorded music is reused. For now, the scanning project will focus on documents housed in the New York Office, rather than off-site storage, as these are the documents that would require moving to a new space.

    IM Survey

    Collating the International Musician survey results is another project scheduled for early 2018. Many of the 4,254 respondents included comments. It will take some time to organize and analyze the data but we are working on it.

    Fiscal Year End

    Now that the AFM’s fiscal year has concluded, the finance department is busy closing out the year and preparing for our annual audit. Preparation of the Department of Labor (LM-2) report will begin shortly as the report is due at the end of the first quarter (March 31).

    #MeToo Movement

    Recent workplace sexual harassment allegations have been shocking and eye-opening to say the least. It has touched many lives, in many industries, including our own entertainment industry. Employees in the arts are particularly vulnerable because so much of our work is dependent upon subjective decisions. Often employment opportunities come by way of a simple hiring phone call (or not) for the next gig, allowing for the subtle diminishment of work opportunities.

    Many courageous women and men have now spoken out, risking their careers to bring an end to this unacceptable and illegal behavior. Abusers in powerful leadership positions have fallen and I am sure there will be more to come.

    Recently, Barry Diller, chair and senior executive of InterActiveCorp (IAC) and Expedia, Inc., was interviewed by Christiane Amanpour. He referred to the #MeToo movement as the “great reckoning.” Aptly put, the “great reckoning” is long overdue.

    Sexual harassment is a violation that sears itself into the memory of the victim. Now that the light of day has been focused on the perpetrators’ terrible abuse of power and the recognition that the consequences for engaging in this behavior are severe, it is my hope that an end can be brought to this intolerable and illegal behavior. All of us need to take an active role to help bring change. A simple but important first step might begin in the home by modeling respectful behavior for all people so our children can see and internalize it.

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Official Journal of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada