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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 American Music Fairness Act’s Impact on Symphony Musicians

The American Music Fairness Act’s Impact on Symphony Musicians


The AFM adage, “There is strength in unity” certainly applies in our quest to move the American Music Fairness Act (AMFA) through the US Congress. Many musicians are under the misunderstanding that this legislation applies mostly or only to popular musicians whose creative works are performed on AM/FM terrestrial radio. This could not be further from reality.

As this month’s issue of the International Musician focuses on our symphonic musicians, I thought it would be helpful to clarify how AMFA will benefit these players as well.

The premise of the AMFA is to secure a performance right and royalty for any musician whose music is played over the air on terrestrial broadcast radio. This includes symphonic musicians whose recordings are heard on local classical music stations and PBS affiliates throughout the United States.

The AMFA bill will:

  • Ensure individual performers, even members of symphony orchestras, are compensated when their music is played on terrestrial music stations
  • Level the playing field between other music platforms that do pay, such as streaming services and satellite radio, and all other platforms that profit off of copyrighted content
  • Provide small broadcasters with the affordability and predictability they need to thrive
  • Recognize the property rights of American creators
  • Support American artists abroad, ensuring that foreign countries pay them when their songs are played overseas
  • Protect songwriters and publishers

As with all previous versions of this legislation, the bill clarifies that there are no harmful effects with respect to the public performance rights or other royalties payable to songwriters, copyright owners, and publishers.

How Are These Royalties Paid?

When recording contracts are filed by your orchestra, the names of individual musicians in the orchestra are kept on file at the AFM. Under this legislation, once the recording is broadcast, SoundExchange collects the royalties and then the AFM and SAG-AFTRA Fund distributes the payments to musicians. This is further validation of the importance of filing union contracts when any recording work is done.

Get Involved in Collecting Your Royalties

Over the years, symphonic player conferences have successfully pitched in by participating in telephone and email campaigns relating to important legislation. Passage of AMFA is another opportunity for symphony players to organize themselves and push for the passage of this legislation. The AFM Legislative Office is committed to securing performance rights for players in every music genre. To help ensure symphonic access to these royalty fees, we need your help supporting an active letter writing campaign and, if necessary, a telephone campaign to encourage your federal legislators to positively weigh in on the passage of AMFA. Won’t you join us in helping to secure your rights?

For more information about our AMFA campaign, contact me on 202-274-4756 or at Thank you for your membership.

US Delays Visa Hikes for International Touring Musicians

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has agreed to delay the implementation of a visa rate hike that would negatively impact touring musicians. Under proposed guidelines first announced in January 2023, the cost of O and P visas for international touring musicians and other visitors would increase by more than 250%. The USCIS is now delaying the rate hike until at least March 2024 and is considering lowering the rate increase altogether.

In a letter sent February 8 to Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-MS), ranking member on the House Homeland Security Committee, then AFM President Ray Hair asked the USCIS to reconsider the increase in visa fees, which would irreparably damage local, state, and federal investment in the US arts and entertainment business.

“International touring artists and American businesses who are still recovering from the worldwide pandemic shutdown, cannot bear the burden of such fees,” said Hair. “The proposed increases are unreasonable and are well beyond any cost-of-living increase, even at today’s inflation rate.”

A 2023 survey of independent venues, festivals, and promoters revealed that international talent accounts for over a quarter of performances at an average venue.

A USCIS spokesperson previously said that rate increases would not impact musicians themselves, only their US employers, including promoters, club owners, labels, or festival producers. International artists reps say employers are likely to pass these fee increases onto the artists—and possibly to consumers as higher-priced tickets—making it more challenging to tour crucial American concert venues.

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