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Knoxville Musicians Association
New Member Services Catalog

American Federation of Musicians
of the United States and Canada


… to the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada.

Whether or not you’ve just finished viewing the new member video or listening to the audio cassette introducing you to the American Federation of Musicians, this brochure will complete your introduction to the programs and services available to you as a member of our organization… It’s the owner’s manual to your Federation.

Our members usually call us “the Federation,” or “the AFM” or “the Union.” Whatever you call us, the Federation and Local 546 offer programs and services that greatly enhance the working life of a professional musician. Your owner’s manual will explain in clear, straightforward language exactly how this dizzying array of benefits can help a very important person… you, an AFM member.

The American Federation of Musicians has been serving professional musicians since its founding in 1896. It is made up of over 100,000 members belonging to approximately 300 Locals. The American Federation of Musicians is an international governing body of Locals representing musicians within specific geographic areas. Locals negotiate minimum wage scales for local engagements and deal with most matters within their own regions. The Federation bargains collectively for all members involved in network radio and TV, videotape, educational TV, music videos, theatrical motion pictures, TV films and other electronic recording.


Review this catalog with an Officer at Local 546. If you purchased a new VCR or stereo, you wouldn’t throw away the owner’s manual. You’ve made an investment and want to get your money’s worth. The owner’s manual helps you use, protect and appreciate your purchase. Your Federation membership is also an important investment. You contribute dues to Local 546 and the Federation, but you reap a significant return of dollars for your pocket, and opportunity for your future.

Make your Investment work for you…

… Read your owner’s manual!


… An International Service Network

The AFM exists to serve its members. That is our first priority. The AFM’s member services have been developed by musicians, for musicians. We urge you to get full value from the Federation by taking advantage of AFM services that benefit you. A Local Officer is always available to answer any questions you have.

We also urge you to remember that to receive most of the AFM’s services at the Local or International level, you must have signed and filed an engagement contract.


… A Benchmark for Security

A signed, filed AFM contract is the cornerstone of your professional life. It opens the doors to most major Federation and Local services and benefits. AFM contracts are not difficult to complete, and most ethical purchasers will sign them if asked. The Federation and its Locals supply legal contract forms to its members for all types of professional work. In a later section of the catalog, we’ll show you a contract and explain how to use it correctly.

4 signed contract is necessary for complete access to Federation services.

National Contracts in the United States and Canada

The Federation has negotiated Collective Bargaining Agreements in the U.S. and Canada covering national and international electronic and touring employment. An international group of producers, agencies, labels and packagers negotiate with the AFM to establish these agreements, which then become the accepted standard for all such employment. Examples of these contracts are available through Local 546, where the staff can show you how to complete them

Agreements covering electronic work include:

  • Phonograph Record
  • Documentary Industrial
  • Theatrical Motion Picture
  • Television/Radio Commercial Announcements
  • Television Videotape
  • Television Film

    Agreements are also in place for Pay TV, Station “ID’s,” Public Television and Radio, and syndicated Radio and Transcriptions.

    Many of these electronic agreements provide for additional payments to you in the event of new usage or reuse of your recording. National and international touring employment covered by Federation-negotiated agreements includes ice shows, circuses, musicals, operas, ballets and stage shows. Before you accept touring employment, check with an officer of Local 546.

    Pension Plan

    All national and international agreements call for mandatory purchaser contributions to your pension account, over and above scale. When the proper AFM agreement is signed and filed, the employer will automatically deposit pension contributions into your account in New York. The majority of AFM-negotiated studio and touring contracts listed above call for AFM-EP Fund contributions of nine to ten percent.

    Toll-free Road Help is only a phone call away

    When you’re on the road, far from home, and a gig goes bad–you get fired, canceled or stifled-the Federation’s Emergency Traveling Assistance Program is there to bail you out. One telephone call puts you in contact with a Federation staffer who will give you advice and assistance. You may even be advanced emergency cash based on Federation scale. The Federation will even go to court to collect the rest of your money, at no cost to you. Your signed, filed contract is all you need to benefit from this service.

    In the U.S., dial 1-800-ROADGIG (1-800-762-3444)

    In Canada dial 1-800-INFO FED (1-800-463-6333)

    Music Performance Trust Funds

    Film Funds Trust Funds

    Through agreements negotiated between the FM and film and record companies, special trust funds exist to pay scale (as set by Local 546) to members who perform at events for which no admission is charged. Such events include parks concerts, educational concerts and performances for hospitals and senior citizens. To participate, you and a co-sponsor must apply to Local 546 well in advance of the event. Contact Local 546 for more information.

    Special Payments Fund

    If you make an audio recording or motion picture for an employer who has signed a Federation Agreement in that medium, you will receive additional pay over and above scale for several years from a pool of funds created from contributions by all AFM-contracted film and record producers.
    Each year, all AFM members who have played in film or audio recording sessions divide the pool, according to the number of sessions each musician has played. The more sessions you play, the larger the distribution you receive.
    We hate to repeat ourselves, but to qualify for the Special Payments Fund, members must file signed contracts!


    … Group Insurance Rates

    The Federation has endorsed an insurance package for members’ instruments. You can purchase professional all-risk insurance for your instruments, equipment and sound system at group rates from A. H. Wohlers & Co. for $2.20 per $100 for the first $1,500 and $1.00 per $100 thereafter of instrument value per year.
    The Federation also provides an increasingly important low-cost performance liability insurance as well as low-cost group medical insurance. Ask a Local 546 officer for more information.


    If you’re a member of an American AFM Local, the AFM will act as your sponsor for engagements in Canada. No more hassles from Canadian Manpower. Just complete an EMP-AFM-1 form-available tom Local 546–at least 30 days prior to the performance date. Have his form signed by an AFM officer and send it with a copy of your contract to the AFM office in Canada. They will present it to Canadian Immigration and obtain your work permit. Canadian immigration requires a fee of $150 for individuals and $450 for groups of up to 14.


    Every month, members receive the highly respected music industry publication of the AFM, the International Musician. This newspaper covers the players, the issues and the innovations of the international music scene, as well as Federation news and commentary.
    Six times a year, you’ll also receive the industry newsletter of Local 546, Notes.


    … Conferences, Conventions and Workshops


    Delegates from Locals regularly attend regional conferences and workshops where they discuss issues and problems unique to their areas and membership. Workshops and seminars focus on improving service to members.
    Local 546 is affiliated with the Southern Conference and the Regional Orchestra Players Association.

    Professional Conferences

    Members who play specialized kinds or categories of music have formed self-help organizations within the Federation. They meet regularly to discuss the problems and challenges they have within their unique professions.

    A number of these groups are recognized by the Federation, including:

  • ICSOM International Conference of Symphony & Opera Musicians
  • OCSM – Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians
  • RMA- Recording Musicians Association
  • ROPA – Regional Orchestra Players Association
  • AFM Conventions
    Once every two years, Local delegates attend and participate in the International Convention at which AFM Bylaws (rules) are reviewed, and International Officers are elected. The Convention is the supreme governing body of the Federation.


    … National and International Affairs

    The Federation is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, its Department for Professional Employees in the U.S. and the Canadian Labour Congress. Internationally, the Federation is a member of the International Secretariat for the Arts, Mass Media, and Entertainment Trade Unions (ISETU).
    The Federation’s labor affiliations and conferences are important links in the AFM’s network of Provincial and State Representatives and U.S. State Legislative Directors, who participate in an ongoing dialogue with American and Canadian governmental agencies and bodies, for the purpose of encouraging the enactment of legislation beneficial to professional musicians.


    … Professional Security for the Professional

    As a musical professional, you should only work with authorized AFM contracts that provide complete, specialized protection. Customized contracts are available at Local 546 for most kinds of steady performing and recording engagements, including TV and radio, records, film, jingles and touring. The most commonly used contracts cover day-to-day work for clubs, lounges and steady engagements. If you are a leader or single musician, you need to know how to fill one out, how to file it and how to make a claim if something goes wrong.
    In order for your contract to be enforceable, it must be filed and distributed before the engagement date. File one copy with the local where the engagement takes place, file one copy with the purchaser and, of course, save one signed copy for yourself.

    Don’t take chances: File correctly.

    Follow these guidelines:

      1. Avoid confusion; list the room.

      2. List the leader and group name.

      3. Specify days and hours. List the performance/break ratio.

      4. Be specific. It may save a firing for “unsuitable music.”

      5. Specify gratis rooms or other fringes.

      6. Specify to whom, in what form, and when.

      7. List other agreed-upon conditions.

      8. Safeguard against last-minute cancellations.
      9. All musicians and their Local numbers.

      10. List BOTH the establishment and the authorized person signing for the establishment.

      11. leader MUST sign unless someone else has power of attorney.

    BOOK ‘EM!

    … Use Authorized Booking Agents Only

    Only agents who have signed AFM agreements are authorized to use AFM contracts. Authorized AFM agents have agreed to use AFM contracts, secure scale pay or better, and charge no more than stipulated commission percentages. Check with Local 546 for the names and numbers of authorized agents in your area.
    Be sure your Agent is filing your contracts!


    … Claims for Unpaid Wages

    -The phone rings just as you leave your hotel for your gig. “We don¹t need your,² explains the purchaser. “We got Johnny B. Goode instead.” You’ve been canceled before you even took the stage after signing a contract and traveling a thousand miles.
    – You walk off the stage after a show during a two-week gig and the manager grabs you to say he’s closing and can¹t pay you for the rest of your performances. He’s cancelled his live entertainment policy, and you with it.
    -You¹ve completed your engagement and are sitting down with the owner to collect your fee. But he gives you less money than had been agreed upon in the contract. “But we signed a contract,² you remind him. “Well,² he says, ³I thought we¹d make more gate. I can¹t afford to pay you that much. It¹s this or nothing.”
    We hope for the best, but it is possible that experiences such as these will befall a professional musician sometime in his or her career. While you may never experience a canceled or unpaid engagement, your Local and the Federation have established procedures for recovering wage claims.
    To fight for unpaid wages, you must follow these Federation rules and procedures. If you don’t have a signed, filed contract, your claim could fail!

    … Close to Home

    If you have a claim resulting from an engagement that took place in the jurisdiction of Local 546, contact your Local. An Officer of Local 546 will examine your situation and follow these procedures:

      1. You will be asked to write a claim letter or fill out a claim form.

      2. The Local will attempt to collect the claim or reach a settlement through direct contact with the purchaser.

      3. A hearing may be held at Local 546, which you may attend.

      4. If the Local processes the claim through the courts, you will be asked to attend.

      5. Partial or complete lawyer and court fees are absorbed by most Locals. Talk with Local 546 officers who can bring you up to date on policy. Your may be covered.

    … Member Dispute

    If you have a claim against a Local member, it must be processed through Local 546.

      1. You must write a claim letter or fill out a claim form.

      2. A local hearing will be held by a Local Board (often called a Trial Board) at which you and the other member(s) will be asked to appear and testify.

      3. The Local Board will make a judgment, which must be honored by the member(s) involved, unless either party appeals the decision.

      4. Appeals from Local decisions are heard by the International Executive Board of the Federation, which can uphold, overturn, or modify the Local decision.

      5. The Federation’s decision is final and binding and will be enforced by Local 546.

    … On the Road

    All wage claims for contracted traveling engagements fall under the jurisdiction of the Federation.
    For all claims resulting from an engagement that took place outside your home Local’s jurisdiction (“run-outs”), contact an Officer in the jurisdiction where you’re working or contact the New York Office at 1-800-ROADGIG (762-3444).

      1. You will be asked to complete a claim form and write a claim letter.
      2. If you wish, the Officers in the jurisdiction where you performed may contact the purchaser directly, and attempt to collect or settle. If they are unsuccessful, your claim will be forwarded to the New York Office for collection.

      3. Or you may forward your traveling claim directly to New York. In any case, when New York receives your claim, they will attempt to collect/settle through mail or by telephone with the purchaser.

      4. If the claim is not paid or settled, the New York Office will appoint a lawyer in the area where the claim occurred who will take the claim to court for you. Your attendance at a court hearing may be required.

      5. The Federation will absorb all court and legal expenses.

    Keep in mind:

  • Phone a Local Officer at the first sign of trouble. Don¹t wait until the purchaser has taken action.
  • Don’t sign a settlement with a purchaser until you consult with a Local Officer.


    … On Your Side, Day by Day

    Local 546 is responsible for the standards and services that most affect your everyday professional life. The scales and contracts for your area are negotiated by Local 546, which is also responsible for enforcing these contracts and minimums with purchasers.

    The jurisdiction of Local 546 incorporates eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina, and southern Virginia.

    Local 546 will handle all problems you encounter while performing within that geographic area.

    Every AFM Local is charged with an array of significant jobs, such as establishing and maintaining the Bylaws (Local rules) for your area; administering local services and benefits to local and traveling AFM members; servicing local wage claims and enforcing AFM contracts; encouraging the employment of AFM members and promoting a professional music industry and establishing events and services that build solidarity among professional musicians in your area.


    … The More You Participate, The More You Gain

    Each Local provides a number of benefits and programs customized by its local Executive Board to fit the unique needs of your area’s music industry. The more you become involved in the affairs of Local 546, the more you will know about and benefit from it¹s services.


  • LOCAL COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENTSLocal 546 has negotiated an exclusive Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. This agreement provides professional wages, working conditions and an automatic pension contribution of one percent over and above scale to your personal account in New York for all covered employment.


    Moving to Another City

    If you move to a new part of the country outside of the jurisdiction of Local 546, advise Local 546 of your plans. The Local in your new home can’t accept you until your obligations to your present Local are satisfied. Your present Local Office will advise you on how to move your membership to another Local easily and efficiently.

    Getting Out of the Business

    Don’t just “drop out” if you leave the music business for the short or long-term. Resign in “good standing” by clearing your obligations with Local 546 and notifying the office of your plans in writing. Otherwise, you will eventually be expelled from the Local and the AFM, making rejoining at a later date an expensive proposition.


    Membership Due

    Each year every AFM member pays membership dues to their Local. These basic membership fees are required of every full member, and each member pays the same amount. A portion of the membership dues, called the Per Capita Dues, is forwarded to the Federation once every three months to support International activities.

  • Local 546’s membership dues are $100.00 per year, or $50.00 semi-annually.
  • Members who have not paid by May 30th and July 30th are suspended and may be subject to a reinstatement fee.
  • Members who have not paid by June 30th and August 30th are expelled and must pay a reinstatement fee in addition to membership dues owed if they wish to rejoin the AFM.
  • Work Dues (Dues based on Scale Wages)Many Federation Locals collect a small percentage of money paid to members for certain engagements they play, based on scale. These “work dues” form the fairest possible system for funding both the Federation and Locals. This way, those members who are not working pay nothing. Those who do work pay a modest percentage of scale to the AFM. The more you work, the more you are likely to need services. Without a work dues system, funding for both the Federation and Local services would have to be generated through annual dues of several hundreds of dollars per year.Local 546’s work dues rate is three percent for all work. Work dues for all trust fund engagements are five percent.The leader is billed for work dues monthly, or casual/club-date musicians can estimate and pay their dues for the year by February 28 in accordance with the Local chart and policy.The Federation (for traveling groups) and some Locals have established Escrow Account payment systems. This system allows you to make bulk payments in advance and avoid billing on a per-engagement basis.

    Traveling Engagements

    When you’re working in another Local¹s jurisdiction, you will be billed for Work Dues by that Local, not your home Local (unless a Traveling Escrow Account has been established). For more specific information, you can contact that Local directly. Call Local 546 for the phone numbers or addresses of other AFM locals



    … Get Involved

    It’s an old rule, and we’ll say it again. The more you participate, the more you benefit. You have strength through participation.

    Does attending General Meetings sound boring? In fact, they’re very important.

    Members set Bylaws (rules), scales (prices) and dues at General Meetings. When you don’t participate, you allow others to make these important decisions for you, and you give up your voice in AFM affairs.

    The meetings of Local 546 are also terrific for meeting other musicians and making professional contacts.

    Laying Down the Bylaws

    Both the Federation and Local 546 operate under sets of ground rules, called Bylaws. These are regularly revised at meetings and conventions. The Bylaws include professional, business and ethical standards. Take the first step in participating in Local 546 by honoring these standards. Every time you do, you strengthen the team.
    Federation and Local Bylaws are available to all members. Get a free copy from an Officer of Local 546.

    Local 546 has a series of Committees, whose job it is to advise the Executive Board. These Committees are always looking for new ideas. We welcome the suggestions of our new members as well as our old! You’d be surprised at the rewards and satisfactions of Local activities.


    Elections of Officers are held every two years in December, by mail-in secret ballot. A simple majority of eligible ballots is required. The President and Secretary-Treasurer are eligible for Convention duties by virtue of their office.

    Bylaw Changes

    Proposals to amend the Bylaws are considered at January General Meetings every two years. Voting is in person, with a simple majority of those present required. Proposed changes are printed in the October newsletter before the meeting.

    Scale Changes

    Proposals to adopt or change scales are considered at General Meetings. Voting is in person, with a simple majority of those present required. Proposed changes are printed in the newsletter before the General Meeting where the voting will take place.


    All the present Officers and members of the Executive Board of Local 546 are musicians, too. They joined the Local just like you. They are not bureaucrats or unfeeling law enforcers. They’re just musicians who want to make a contribution to the betterment of our diverse profession

    … and they need to hear from YOU!