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 » Solidarity During Uncertainty is Essential

Solidarity During Uncertainty is Essential

  -  International Executive Board Member and President of Local 10-208 (Chicago, IL)

The strength of the AFM and our locals depends on the interest and solidarity of our members. I am often asked, “What does our union do for me?” During this pandemic, this question becomes even more real. We have had to endure unemployment, insecurity, and isolation. Our ability to interact musically with each other has been taken away and its return is uncertain. We are forced to be apart. 

Local officers across the United States and Canada, whether leading large locals or small, are working even harder on your behalf. Much of the work being done may not be immediately noticeable. When the pandemic hit, all performances were suspended. Gradually, employers began thinking of new ways to reach their audiences. Requests to stream archival material began to be negotiated. Eventually, small “live” performances began to emerge. A safe return to work, compliant with local and state laws, is in all discussions between the union officers, committees, and the employer. Side letters to existing contracts are being written to allow for minor adjustments to Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) and new media agreements are being put in place. 

For the freelance musicians, the path to recovery has been difficult. I have heard from locals that their first concern was finding money for their members to bridge the gap between the shutdown and the start of unemployment benefits. Then there was the problem of collecting unemployment benefits for those whose income was based on 1099 wages. Then the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation of an additional $600 per week ended. Now the focus is trying to put together small public performances in neighborhoods and communities. 

Here in Chicago, we just completed a two-month program called M–HART (Music–Helping All Recover Together). We were able to put over 100 musicians to work performing for small audiences both public and private. We plan to continue the program again in the spring.

It is even more important now to support your local union. Sticking together through the bond of music and supporting your union has been the solidarity we needed to help each other through these last six months, and we will definitely need to stay unified well into 2021. To quote Mother Jones, an Irish immigrant, community organizer, and a union activist, “My friends, it is solidarity of labor we want. We do not want to find fault with each other, but to solidify our forces and say to each other: We must be together; our masters are joined together, and we must do the same thing.”

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