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 » Unions on the March: Facing New Challenges and Opportunities 

Unions on the March: Facing New Challenges and Opportunities 

  -  AFM IEB Member and President, Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA)

Today there is renewed energy and determination in labor organizing efforts across North America. We may be able to attribute this to a post-pandemic response by workers who are fighting back against increasing inflation and stagnant wages. Looking at the landscape of labor unions across the nation, while our sector is mostly harmonious, recent strikes affecting the entertainment industry catapult us into our own unique set of challenges and opportunities. We musicians, united by our love for music and desire to share our artistry with audiences, must also demand fair wages and working conditions. This will only happen by increasing our organizing.  

We can find inspiration in the successes of our sibling unions. Noteworthy campaigns from United Auto Workers (UAW) and Starbucks employees stand as symbols of the changing landscape of labor in North America. Workers from Starbucks outlets across the nation came together to demand better wages, working conditions, and a voice in their workplace. This campaign, though not directly related to our sector, serves as a compelling example of grassroots labor organizing in an era where workers are increasingly vocal about their rights. 

Our union, historically known for its role in negotiating fair compensation for musicians and ensuring their working conditions, must confront new and daunting obstacles. While many of us enjoy the creative freedom of our work, we are not immune to the broader shifts in the labor market. Digital platforms, artificial intelligence, streaming services, and changes in how music is consumed have reshaped the industry, demanding a fresh approach. 

The need for a robust organizing department within our organization has never been more apparent. To continue safeguarding the rights and interests of musicians, organizing efforts must adapt to the new realities of the music industry. This involves reaching out to freelance musicians, independent artists, and those working in nonunion venues and studios to ensure their voices are heard. 

The digital age has democratized music production and distribution, opening boundless opportunities for musicians. However, it has also raised questions about fair compensation and intellectual property rights. Our union must navigate this complex terrain by advocating for musicians’ rights in the digital realm and ensuring that they are fairly compensated for their work on streaming platforms. We must reach out to online outlets across the creative spectrum, expanding our tent to those musicians not currently affiliated with the AFM or working under an AFM contract. And most importantly, we need to ensure that musicians are leading all efforts in organizing and negotiations. 

In this era of labor resurgence, collaboration and solidarity among different unions are crucial. We can draw inspiration and lessons from the successes of other unions. Unity among workers across various sectors can amplify their collective voice and bargaining power. 

“Unions on the march” is not just a catchphrase; it’s a reflection of the renewed vigor in labor organizing throughout North America. Our AFM, too, is at a crossroads, faced with both challenges and opportunities. By learning from successful campaigns and adapting to the changing music industry landscape, we can continue to ensure that musicians are compensated fairly and that their rights are protected. In this time of major labor gains, the harmonious tune of solidarity and resilience echoes across the continent, reminding us all of the power of collective action. 

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