Frequently Asked Questions
The AFM was founded in 1896 to unite musicians to protect themselves and their work. We negotiate scale wages for musicians who work in recording, television, film, commercials and live performances, and administer thousands of contracts every year. In 2016, Local 257 processed over $13 million in scale wages for our members. New use and reuse payments would not exist without the strength of the AFM and our negotiated agreements with employers. Our recording agreements provide for a pension payment over and above scale, and the AFM-EPF is the source of retirement income for countless musicians. We also offer free live contracts to our members.
Using the strength in numbers of our 80,000 members, the AFM offers a vaiety of discounts on home, auto, life and instrument insurance. Local 257's Emergency Relief Fund has helped many of our members get through tough times of medical problems that prevent them from working. Local 257 also has a generous Funeral Benefit plan that protects our members and their families in the most difficult of times. The Union Plus organizatioon offers many discounts for products and services including car rentals, cellphone plans, and much more. We also offer our members free admission to Summer NAMM, discounts for tickets to the Nashville Symphony, performances at TPAC, admission to the Musicians Hall of Fame and more.
Local 257 has a large rehearsal space — Cooper Hall — which is available free to our members on a first come-first served basis. The space has full backline and is available until 11 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Cooper Hall can accomodate everything from a big band to classical ensembles, country and rock bands and more. We have our quarterly meetings in the hall, and members may book it for weddings, memorial services and many other functions. Nonmembers can inquire about booking availability and fees by calling 615-244-9514 and asking for Laura Birdwell. We open our doors for an AA meeting every Thursday at 5:30 p.m. as a service to the community.
For a little more than $20 a month, Local 257 members have access to the resources and support of the AFM. Dues for 2015 are $288. and we ask for an additional $5 voluntary donation that is split between our Local 257 Emergency Relief Fund and the AFM's Tempo program, which funds our bi-partisan legislative efforts in Washington D.C. Our AFM legislative team was instrumental in creating and passing the Musical Instrument Carry-on bill in 2012, and is now deeply involved in completing the process by helping to facilitate the writing of the guidelines so the law can be fully implemented. For new members, there is an additional one-time initiation fee of $165.
The past few years have seen a transformation in the AFM, and more than ever before, we are advocating for our members in many ways, both locally and internationally. We went to Beijing, China to take part in the developement of a United Nations international treaty to protect the intellectual property of our members. We work closely with Sound Exchange and the AFM & SAG/AFTRA Fund to distribute funds we collect for our members for Internet and satellite radio play. Local 257 lobbied the city to create Musician Loading Zones in 2010 and has gone to court with our members and successfully defended them against bogus traffic tickets caused by taxis parking in the loading zones. In 2017 we were happy to announce $5 parking passes for our members who play downtown venues.
Local 257 has a variety of recording scales, and a quick look at our Recording pages should give you a good idea of which scale is right for the project you are recording. We have a yellow Time Card form, (hence the term "on the card") that has spaces for the type of session, employer information, place, time and duration of the session, song titles, and the names of all musicians, including the leader. This time card is the basis for the executed contract that will protect the players as well as the employer, and ensure proper scale and AFM pension payments are made.
Every type of union session requires a "Signatory," essentially a responsible party who agrees to adhere to the terms for the type of session being performed. These are separate forms, available from the recording department of Local 257 and also online on this website. In the case of Demo sessions, a signature on the time card by the employer or producer serves as a Signatory Agreement. All others are simple forms that spell out the rates and conditions of that type of recording project. A modest Health and Welfare payment (usually $22.50 per player for one session) and an AFM Pension payment equivalent to 11 percent of scale for each player, payable in one check to the AFM-EP Pension Fund, completes the transaction.
This may sound complicated, but once you have done it a couple of times it becomes simple to "do the right thing." We are more than happy to walk you through it the first few times and make sure you understand the process.
Recording on the card protects the work of the musicians in a variety of ways:
1. It establishes a fair pay scale and a pension payment for all musicians on the session
2. If the recording is used in another medium such as film, television, or a commercial, having a paper trail will ensure that musicians receive a New Use payment.
3. If there is ever a dispute about payment, Local 257 will have your back and work to ensure that you will be paid. If the paperwork is not handled properly at the time of the session, it will become more difficult to do this, so do yourself a BIG favor and take care of business on the front end - you won't regret it!
Simply put, Strength in Numbers! We can provide you with free live contracts, protection for your recordings, a free rehearsal hall, group health insurance, discounts on life and health insurance, instrument insurance, and much more. As Local 257's new website continues to develop, we will be offering more services for our members to help them network more effectively.