It's Good to Be Union

International Musician, July 2012 | Go to article overview

It's Good to Be Union


FMC Revenue Stream Data Proves the Benefits of AFM Membership

Regardless of your instrument or genre, becoming an AFM member can boost your earnings and expand your sources of income. That's one of the clear messages coming from data released by the Future of Music Coalition's (FMC) Artist Revenue Streams Project. "The data read really well for the Federation," agrees Paul Sharpe, director of the AFM's Freelance Services/Membership Development Division and a member of the project's advisory committee.

"Without question being an AFM member helps a working musician with his or her career," Sharpe continues. "That's because the Federation and its locals have put decades of work into negotiating contracts that cover salaries, session work, live performance, and new use and re-use, offering diverse revenue streams for working musicians."

The FMC-a national nonprofit that helps musicians through education, research, and advocacy-launched its multi-stage Artist Revenue Streams research project in 2010, with the aim of understanding how musicians earn a living in the rapidly evolving music industry.

The project certainly caught the interest of working musicians. "We sent out an e-mail to our US members asking them to take the survey," says Sharpe. "FMC was thrilled by our response."

In fact, just more than 50% of respondents were AFM members. "The response shows how relevant the Federation is within our industry and how engaged our members are in the business of music," says Sharpe. Survey results show that the AFM respondents are, on average, in their mid to late careers; work in the classical, jazz, and rock genres; and that many (44%) are full-time musicians.

But the most significant data addresses mean earnings-it points out that AFM members enjoy higher incomes than nonmember musicians in every category. The data shows that an AFM member is more likely than the nonmember musician to earn his or her entire living from music (54% compared to 42% for the average); that AFM members earn a significantly higher average income from music ($48,650 compared to $34,455); and that they report a higher personal income overall ($65,236 compared to $55,561).

The FMC executive summary points out-with some surprise-how eclectic the sources of income are for today's musicians. For the average AFM member, major sources come from a salary (29%), teaching (24%), live performance (21%), and session work (12%). Sharpe notes that, apart from teaching, the Federation has agreements that cover all these areas.

AFM members reported many other income sources-from grants to acting gigs-but high on the list of "other income" were streams coming directly from the Federation: AFM Special and Secondary Market payments and AFM/AFTRA Fund payments. …

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