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American Federation of Musicians Celebrates 125 Years: 1896-2021

Today (October 19) marks the 125th anniversary of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM). In the 125 years since its inception, the AFM has had one goal: to elevate, protect, and advance the interests of all musicians who receive pay for their musical services.

It was an evolutionary act of organizing that gathered musician leaders in Parlor 35 of the Hotel English in Indianapolis, Indiana, on October 19, 1896. For centuries before, musicians struggled to make a living. They lived uncertain lives, with no guarantee of wages and no steady employment nor pensions.

While technology and the state of the music industry has changed, the AFM’s mission has not. There have been many challenges and even some defeats along the way, but the AFM has been unwavering in its dedication to working musicians everywhere.

From the AFM’s fledgling years to now, the issues affecting its members have been vast, including legislation, strikes, lobbying efforts, federal funding, organizing, financial challenges, updating of agreements and scale, performance rights, payola and regulation, royalty disbursements, diversity efforts, traveling challenges, and competing in a globalized industry.

The AFM has taken on each and every one of these issues with tenacity, persistence, and a lot of hard work. AFM members continue to benefit from all of these efforts.

To celebrate the 125th Anniversary, the AFM has highlighted the beginnings of the organization and recognized the seven founding locals in a special commemorative supplement to the International Musician. View the issue at: https://www.afm.org/about/history/

This celebration will continue into 2022 as 20 more locals will reach their 125th anniversary next year. We look forward to special recognition at the upcoming 102nd AFM Convention in June 2022.