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WearyKnight

Is the union worth it?

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Hi, I am considering joining the AFM, but am really hesitating still. I was wondering if anyone would be willing to talk to me about it here. I have searched and read through the old threads on the subject. They contained some great info, but are several years old. Maybe things have changed since then...or maybe not?

 

I am age 39 and am a full-time pro piano/organ doubler. It's ridiculously unlikely that I will ever end up with a SO, ballet, or Broadway. If I join, it would be to try to find gigs and for the healthcare. Worth it-- or a massive waste of time and money?

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If you are doing a lot of studio session work, working with major label artists, or have an ongoing gig in a room with a union contract...absolutely. Dues can vary by local. I was an AFM member in NYC in the early 1970s because you basically had to be to work any of the major clubs back then. When I moved to LA, and I approached the local here, I actually did manage to get an audition with a national act...that was the last time the union did anything but collect dues from me.

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Well, another big piece of the puzzle is where you are.

A small town is not going to get you offers for many union scale gigs...you are basically now paying them for healthcare.

Even in a city like LA, unless you are a pro session player, odds of getting much work from union calls? Slim to non-existent, even for keyboardists like yourself. Now, in Vegas, there are union and non-union gigs...Branson...union [last time I heard, anyway], NYC...mainly union, Nashville...a mix, Austin... I have not been recently...but that is the picture.

The nice thing in smaller markets where the union casts no shadow, is that you can create your own market there, like writing jingles and bumper background for the local radio station, things like that...but you have to hustle.

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