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 » Legislative Update » The Advantages of Union Membership Equate to Federal and State Benefits for AFM Musicians

The Advantages of Union Membership Equate to Federal and State Benefits for AFM Musicians


The American labor movement has been, is, and will continue to be among the most powerful, influential advocate for working women and men. Labor’s highly respected voice, whether sought out or not, on either side of the political aisle, and in each of the three branches of the US government, is considered equal to any other powerful coalition in the world.

The legislative year 2020 should have convinced everyone of the powerful sway government holds over the public purse, and its direct impact over your everyday affairs. Hopefully, you now realize why your union gets involved in politics and legislation.

Because of the intensive efforts and vision of AFM leadership under President Ray Hair, Secretary-Treasurer Jay Blumenthal, the International Executive Board, along with the federation’s dedicated staff, combined with your voice, the AFM remains the single greatest advocate of professional musicians both here in the US and in Canada.

Our motto on the AFM homepage speaks volumes: “Don’t go it alone!” Decades of work and success with federal and state governments have proven that we are “stronger together.” Surely this was true during 2020, when the AFM and our sister labor unions negotiated their way through unprecedented workplace and personal trials, with no guarantee of success for our efforts. However, by joining with one another, with the AFL-CIO, it’s Department for Professional Employees (DPE), and empathetic members of Congress, we succeeded. And, these successful results were only possible through unity.

I have outlined a snapshot of the successful work accomplished through your government relations office and the active AFM members who found time to step up to the plate for rallies, Congressional office visits, press conferences, communications to Congress, zoom calls, and other political organizing techniques that got us over the finish line as working artists. I wish to thank AFM officers, AFM local staff, player and regional conference officers, and our international representatives for sharing this burden.

Please note, there were a limited number of programs that provided direct payments to professional musicians from government-related programs. Our work on restoration of tax deductions and royalty payments to recording musicians heard on terrestrial radio continues.

Here’s some of what we have accomplished together:

  • March 11, 2021, as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, President Biden signed the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Relief Act into law, which put $86 billion in multiemployer pension plan funding to shore up approximately 200-225 severely underfunded multiemployer pension plans. The AFM-EPF is designated as a qualified plan to be covered under the new relief act.
  • $25 million in relief to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
  • $135 million allocated to the National Endowment for the Arts under the American Rescue Plan.
  • American Rescue Plan Grants to artists sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. This includes funding for artist fees/stipends for projects related to work with a tangible outcome, such as performances, presentations, workshops, and/or the creation of artwork. This is considered a stipend to the artist for the work undertaken during the period of performance. Such work must not be performed independently of the organization receiving funds.
  • Billions in extended-supplemental unemployment compensation insurance to unemployed W-2 and mixed income wage earning musicians.
  • $16.2 billion in grant relief in Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG), including to small and midsized professional concert halls, opera and ballet facilities, and theaters that accommodate professional musicians and other artists.