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 27, 2015Alan Willaert - AFM Vice President from Canada
The Canadian Conference has always been an active, engaging and results-oriented event. The last two remained true to that legacy, as they spawned a special Standards Committee, comprised of Local 279 (London, ON) Secretary-Treasurer Ted Peacock; Local 384 (Brockville, ON) Vice President Pat Johnson; Local 591 (Thunder Bay, ON) Secretary-Treasurer Norm Slongo; Local 293 (Hamilton, ON) President Larry Feudo; and Local 547 (Calgary, AB) Secretary-Treasurer Chair Doug Kuss, who is committee chair.
These folks were charged with the unenviable task of finding solutions to some of the most difficult questions that locals face. For example, what is the most effective way to train new officers? Perhaps there should be a mentoring programme. How do you find potential officers? What happens to an officer who has finished his term? Is there life after CFM? What are some strategies for organizing in small to medium size locals? Can we adopt universal techniques for CFM promotion/branding, building alliances with other music organizations, or devise a single template for agreements with festivals, award shows, and showcasing? Is there any merit in developing associate memberships? How can locals best utilize the available AFM freelance co-funding, or derive maximum benefit during a visit from their international representative? Does a small/medium local require liability insurance for their executive board members? How large does the board really need to be? At what point is it appropriate to consider merger or amalgamation of a region?
Once the thought process began, the wish list became almost endless, in terms of what types of assistance locals deemed valuable. Clearly, the best methodology was to choose a manageable number of objectives and focus the available energy and resources on those.
First up for discussion were our contracts, in particular the live engagement form. Feedback from our members has been that it is cumbersome and overly wordy. A revision is therefore in the works, to simplify, yet retain legal strength. In fact, attention will be given to almost all the “paper” we use in doing business, with a view to updating these important and necessary tools.
The committee noted that, while the AFM does a tremendous amount of work negotiating agreements in the theatrical, touring, recording, and symphonic worlds, a large number of our freelance musicians generally work within their own business model, and are not directly impacted by collective agreements. However, a significant number of these members secure promotional performances on cable television.
These are regional, but sometimes national, in nature (such as Breakfast Television). They are therefore exposed to possible exploitation. While some locals have agreements in place, e.g., Local 149 (Toronto, ON), most do not. These members do not receive remuneration for these performances, and worse, are unprotected from possibly limitless reuse and new use.
The committee is therefore examining ways to establish a team, or teams, of local officers to assist the Canadian Office staff with negotiating agreements that will cover all this type of work. Since all broadcasters are regulated by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), and therefore subject to Federal Status of the Artist legislation, the CFM is able to compel them to bargain.
Certainly there are many challenges for the Standards Committee, but I support their efforts and commitment to finding ways to deliver reasonable and universal assistance for all locals. In the end, locals that are better prepared and equipped to address the current realities of the music business, are more relevant and essential to the membership