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.
January 1, 2023IM -
AFM member recordings are covered under a variety of sound recording agreements, all designed to protect your work and the work of the musicians you hire. Taking into consideration the scope of your work and its intended use is key. You should always contact your local if you have a question about which agreement is appropriate for your project.
But if you’ve already made your recording, is it too late? Not at all! The AFM Electronic Media Services Division (EMSD) and Federation locals assist with post-recording cleanups all the time. It may be even easier than you’d expect.
First, you need to determine which agreement is appropriate for the work performed. The Joint Venture Agreement is the simplest of all AFM agreements, yet it offers vital protections to musicians who create their own media, when that media is monetized later. If you or your band did not hire outside musicians to perform on the album, then the recording can be covered under a Joint Venture Agreement filed with your local. No money needs to be exchanged, and no signatory is required if all the musicians in the group share ownership of the content and there is no outside company hiring you.
Initially developed for audio recordings, the Joint Venture Agreement now has a video component, making the protection of self-produced online media a breeze for musicians. Recordings may be solicited for exhibition over the internet if all musicians on the recording consent to that exhibition. The member(s) involved in the recording(s) must maintain control and ownership of the product. If these criteria fit the recording you made, simply download the form from the AFM website’s For Members area Document Library, have the members of your band sign it, and file the signed agreement with your local. Easy!
If you hired musicians and your album didn’t, or likely won’t, reach the 10,000-unit sale threshold, the Local Limited Pressing Agreement may be appropriate. The scale wages under this agreement are established by the AFM local in whose jurisdiction the recording took place, so your hired musicians may have already been paid at or above those rates. Benefits, such as pension and health and welfare, are established at the same rates as the main Sound Recording Labor Agreement. Depending on how long ago the recording took place, you may be required to pay penalties. It’s a small price to pay for protecting your recording, but a strong case for filing the appropriate paperwork at the onset. Digital streaming is permitted, though a small backend percentage (0.55%) of digital receipts are owed twice annually to the Pension Fund, unallocated.
If your session didn’t occur in person, but you contracted individual musicians to record parts from their home studios, you and the musicians can utilize the AFM Single Song Overdub Scale Agreement to establish a rate and pay the musician by the song, rather than by the hour. These very affordable rates, which may have already been met or exceeded, also include a pension provision. It is the only AFM recording scale that allows the musician to make a pension contribution directly on behalf of the employer.
For projects exceeding 10,000-unit sales or that may be licensed by a third-party for use in film, television, commercials, etc., the conversation gets more complicated and the amounts higher. In these cases, the full terms and conditions of the Sound Recording Labor Agreement may apply, and your local officers or our EMSD staff can better help you navigate these steps.
Remember, while it’s never too late to do the right thing, a small measure of proactivity can better protect you at the onset and save you from potential headaches later.