Labor Union

American Federation of Musicians

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Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2017):

Revenue: $13,312,219
Expenses: $10,839,251
Assets: $21,708,250

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The American Federation of Musicians (AFM) is a labor union affiliated with the AFL-CIO labor union federation which represents professional musicians in the United States and Canada. 1  AFM first organized in 1896 in Indianapolis, Indiana and has grown to just over 73,000 members. 2


In 1942, American Federation of Musicians organized a two-year recording strike when radio programs began using recordings of orchestras instead of live musicians. 3 The strike, which was criticized for depriving the world of early recordings by jazz greats Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, resulted in recording companies paying royalties not to the musicians directly but to the union. 4 AFM claims most orchestral musicians in America and Canada to its membership, with major symphony orchestras delegating representatives to vote on union negotiations. 5


Ray Hair, president of AFM since 2010, is a member of the Labor Advisory Committee for U.S. Trade Negotiations and Trade Policy. 6

In December of 2011, Hair released a video criticizing Lionsgate Films and the Hunger Games film franchise for using the prestigious London Symphony Orchestra to score its soundtrack. Hair suggested that this was a way of getting around paying AFM union royalties and fees. 7

In response to a question about his having “publicly maligned” Lionsgate and whether this was the best approach, Hair said “I don’t think anybody gives you things because they like you. In the union business they give you things because they are afraid of what you’re going to do them.” 8

On June 15, 2020, Hair released a statement on behalf of AFM endorsing Black Lives Matter. 9


In January 2020, American Federation of Musicians announced the end of a two-year negotiation with major TV and film studios, resulting in new contract stipulations for its union members. These include a 3% annual wage increase, on-screen credits for films more than 96 minutes, and increased residual payments for digital online rentals and purchases (excluding made-for-streaming content).  Companies affected included Warner CBS/Viacom, NBCUniversal Sony, Disney/ABC, MGM, and Paramount. 10

TEMPO (Taskforce for Employment of Musicians Promotional Organization) is a project to provide support for political candidates who will support (among other aims) greater National Endowment for the Arts funding, changes for travel regulations involving the transport of instruments, and stricter copyright laws. Due to federal regulations, this project is funded by donations given directly from musicians, not from AFM’s “general treasury” funded by dues. 11 In the 2020 cycle, all AFM federal political committee contributions as of mid-August 2020 had gone to Democratic candidates. 12

Fair Trade Music is an initiative to bring more members, directly or indirectly, into collaboration with the AFM. To become a Fair Trade Music chapter, an organization must agree to “contact and involve” a local AFM and designate an individual to represent that organization on the AFM International Board. Members also must agree to use Fair Trade Music graphics and messaging and “encourage the use of signed agreements based on national templates that guarantee musicians no less than local community standards.” This program is open to non-members of the AFM. 13


AFM is a supporter of the Butch Lewis Act, which allows for sponsors of multiemployer pension plans that apply for financial assistance loans under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 to also apply for loans from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation if the first loan will not stave off insolvency of the pension within 30 years. 14 AFM seeks pressure from its members to gain Senate support of this legislation, which passed the House of Representatives in July 2019, to buttress its own struggling pension fund, the AFM-Employer’s Pension Fund. 15

AFM opposes the Local Radio Freedom Act, which would stipulate that Congress not add “any new tax, fee, royalty, or other charge” to local radio stations for public broadcast of performances. 16 AFM claims that this legislation gives an unfair advantage to traditional “terrestrial” broadcast radio stations over digital services such as SiriusXM, and Spotify, by not forcing them to pay musicians performance royalties as do the digital stations. 17


  1. Quinnell, Kenneth. “Get to Know AFL-CIO’s Affiliates: American Federation of Musicians.” AFL-CIO Webstie. February 25, 2109. Accessed July 27, 2020. 
  2. American Federation of Musicians, Annual Report of a Labor Organization (Form LM-2), 2019, Item 20
  3. AFM. “History.” AFM Website. Undated. Accessed July 27, 2020.
  4. Johnson, David. “The 1942 Recording Ban and Today.” Indiana Public Media Website. August 2, 2007. Accessed July 27, 2020.
  5. AFM. “Our Musicians: Symphonic.” AFM Website. Undated. Accessed July 27, 2020.
  6. AFM. “Ray Hair.” AFM Website. Undated. Accessed July 27, 2020.
  7. American Federation of Musicians. “AFM President Ray Hair Blasts Lionsgate and Hunger Games.” Youtube. December 20, 2011. Accessed July 27, 2020.
  8. Rice, Elisa. Ray Hair vs. Lionsgate “In the Union Business…” Youtube. April 13, 2014. Accessed July 27, 2020.
  9. Hair, Ray. “Black Lives Matter.” AFM Website. June 15, 2020. Accessed July 27, 2020.
  10. AFM. “New TV & Film Contract Ratified.” January 20, 2020. Accessed July 27, 2020. 
  11. AFM. “Tempo.” AFM Website. Undated. Accessed July 27, 2020.
  12. Center for Responsive Politics. “American Federation of Musicians Profile: Totals.” OpenSecrets. Accessed August 12, 2020.
  13. AFM. “Fair Trade Music Participating Chapter Agreement.” AFM Website. Undated. Accessed July 27, 2020.
  14. Congress.Gov. “S.2254 – Butch Lewis Act of 2019.” Congress.Gov Website. July 24, 2019. Accessed July 27, 2020.,Butch%20Lewis%20Act%20of%202019,multiemployer%20defined%20benefit%20pension%20plans.
  15. AFM. “Protect Our Pensions.” AFM Website. Undated. Accessed July 27, 2020
  16. Congress.Gov. “H.Con.Res.20-Supporting the Local Radio Freedom Act.” Congress.Gov Website.  March 22, 2019. Accessed July 27, 2020.
  17. AFM. “Musicians Oppose the Local Radio Freedom Act.” AFM Website. February 11, 2020. Accessed July 27, 2020

Directors, Employees & Supporters

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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: September 1, 1940

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $13,312,219 $10,839,251 $21,708,250 $5,482,211 Y $9,516,033 $659,645 $122,880 $596,738
    2016 Dec Form 990 $13,764,884 $12,935,231 $18,903,783 $5,150,712 Y $9,722,118 $606,223 $34,074 $665,712
    2015 Dec Form 990 $12,794,527 $11,248,395 $16,314,082 $3,389,191 Y $9,580,030 $640,320 $19,485 $629,855 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $12,379,171 $11,355,265 $14,723,128 $3,344,369 Y $9,509,107 $628,975 $25,508 $584,314 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $11,651,177 $11,265,064 $13,706,865 $3,352,012 Y $8,941,869 $611,013 $27,761 $597,880 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $11,890,790 $10,778,618 $13,080,002 $3,111,259 Y $9,229,055 $648,828 $27,040 $581,618 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $11,654,134 $10,757,674 $11,815,182 $3,301,142 Y $9,082,947 $650,483 $36,977 $585,326 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    American Federation of Musicians

    1501 BROADWAY STE 600
    NEW YORK, NY 10036-5501