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 » Why the AFM Player Conferences Are Important

Why the AFM Player Conferences Are Important

  -  International Executive Board Member and President of Local 10-208 (Chicago, IL)

by Terryl Jares, International Executive Board Member and President of Local 10-208 (Chicago, IL)

This issue of the International Musician features reports from the AFM player conferences that took place during July and August. These are extremely important organizations within our AFM. From 1962 through 1995, the five player conferences were established and obtained recognition of the AFM. Originally established to work for improvements in their specific workplaces, they now offer the locals and the AFM assistance in numerous important ways.

As a local officer, I negotiate collective bargaining agreements for each organization performing within our local. These include symphony and opera orchestras, theaters, recording projects, and many other small job opportunities. The work can be complicated and time consuming. Therefore, I rely on committees elected by members of each organization who help the union in providing statistics and trends across the Federation. Collecting this information can be complicated, if not impossible. This is where the player conferences are very valuable.

Each conference brings a wealth of information to the local. They collect data such as salaries, budgets, benefits, and work-related rules in their specific industry in the symphonic, theatrical, and recording fields. Documents are available to compare contracts and see what proposals might be put forward in negotiations. In the orchestra world, International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM), Regional Orchestra Players Association (ROPA), and Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM/OMOSC) members are surveyed concerning conductors and the results are available when musicians are involved in music director searches. The conferences are also participants in AFM negotiated documents such as the Integrated Media Agreement, Pamphlet B Touring Agreement, and numerous AFM recording agreements.

The annual meetings of the player conferences offer an exchange of ideas between the delegates and guest speakers. Sessions are presented and later shared with the local members they represent. Through the years I have seen topics ranging from negotiating workshops and understanding financial documents to sessions on the best methods of hearing protection and the innovative programming being presented. The meetings are educational and pertinent to each conference’s activity.

AFM officers attend these conferences to inform the participants of the activities of the AFM and current issues that we face. Their reports to the player conferences give information on issues they face as well as topics of mutual concern, successes they have had, and the struggles they incur. The unity of the delegates in the player conferences is extraordinary and beneficial in negotiating contracts with positive gains and hopefully, few concessions.

Things have been difficult since the pandemic began in 2020. The world we once knew has been turned upside down. We have faced and endured shutdowns, unemployment, and isolation—a roller coaster of ups and downs.

As we celebrate the AFM’s 125th anniversary, we can look back on the everchanging workplace and business model we have endured. We will continue to face demands for cuts and concessions during negotiations. With the help of the player conferences, unity among the membership, and a strong desire to improve our work environments, we will get through this extraordinary experience and be stronger for the future.