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 » Executive Board Members » Starting the New Year Clean and Fresh

Starting the New Year Clean and Fresh

  -  International Executive Board Member and President of Local 105 (Spokane, WA)

Looking back at the past couple of years makes me think of a laundry cycle. Throw everything into the machine, it fills with water. Then, the soaking begins, followed by a lot of agitation, rinse, and spin. Then it’s either thrown into the dryer or hung out to dry. At the end of the cycle, it’s folded and put away. Sure, there will be a few stains that didn’t come out, some wear and tear, and mending to do, but it’s still better than it was. That’s where I want to start in January 2022, clean and fresh.

Our union, members of the American Federation of Musicians, continue our collective work to further our interests in the United States and Canada.

What is our collective work? That depends on you and your community of musicians. When you think about your community of musicians, are your friends and colleagues united to identify and work on issues to improve opportunities, wages, and work conditions? Is your community of musicians satisfied with the opportunities for music making? Is there a general feeling that you’re being appropriately compensated and that you have a meaningful voice in decisions that impact you? If the answer to any of these questions is no, what can be done? Make a call and have a conversation. Ask the person you spoke with to call someone else and have a conversation. Start the process.

When I was new to the labor movement, I had the wrong idea about how a union should operate. The assumption was that we pay dues and tell the union to fix things. I could go into a long explanation of how that idea came into being, why it was perpetuated for so many years, and how it goes against our collective best interests. Instead, I’ll just say that idea is being almost universally rejected by the labor movement. Workers are lifting their voices and winning in ways I haven’t seen before.

Part of the reason we’ve seen so much labor activity is out of necessity for frontline workers who are literally fighting for their health and safety in the workplace. In the US, it’s also due to political changes that have removed some of the restraints on workers, allowing them to stand up to exploitive employers. Changes on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) have greatly impacted our ability to push back, moving the balance of power back toward workers. Political change can tilt it away again, so there’s a general feeling of urgency.

Primary components necessary to bring about meaningful change are a collective voice and a treasury, which is a reason for having a local union. Members provide the voice, the treasury, and make decisions together on how to use both. It’s not only a matter of making signs and hitting the streets—although sometimes that’s a great way to get your message across. We also need to create committees and community coalitions to identify the most effective forum to bring issues forward and the best way to do so.

Here’s part of my laundry list for 2022:

  • Build up our committees—freelance, political & legislative, community action;
  • Make one-on-one phone calls to speak with every musician in the local;
  • Identify resources in the AFM, labor, and community organizations to help us navigate various systems that impact our work;
  • Identify individuals willing to help lead the work and figure out how to make it fun!

It’s time to step off the stages, away from the microphones, and start building relationships outside of our comfort zones. Collective action requires a lot of conversations and patience. Start the cycle: throw ideas into the machine and let them soak.