musicians union

drummingman

Gold Member
I plan on joining the Musicians union this comming new year. Just wondering, does anyone know of any drummers that have hooked up with big gigs through the union?
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I was told that you don't join the union unless you get a job that requires you to be in the union. Otherwise, why join?

I'm a member of the Local 7 A.F.of M. in Anaheim, CA and I joined when Disney hired me as a musician. You do get access to people looking for players for various gigs and I suppose you would find out what gigs are available should they be looking. They have a benefits plan and retirement benefits, but those only count if you are working a majority of your time as a musician, in union gigs.
 

Bart Hodge

Senior Member
Don't do it. The union is only in it for the union, not you. They don't provide gigs and they don't protect you. The only thing that is guaranteed is union dudes. If you don't believe me, go ahead and join and find out.

I also found that I didn't even need to join the union to play union gigs. Nobody asked me for proof of membership.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
It's been decades since union referrals connected any of their members with major gigs. I've been a union member for about 30 years, and I've never heard any of my fellow member buddies say they got a gig through the union. With exception of an occasional recording session, I don't do any union gigs. There really aren't very many anymore unless you're doing orchestras, theater shows, or some soundtracks. TV and radio goes through SAG-AFTRA, and at much higher rates to boot. Frankly, I pay more for membership than any benefit I receive from being a member.

IF you've got access to union gigs, then being a member is important. If not, it's unlikely they'll be able to help in that department.

As I've said for years, getting the nice gigs has more to do with being in the right place at the right time (aka... luck...) than all other factors combined.

And exactly where that place is, and when you need to be there, is the magic question. I wish I had the answer!

Bermuda
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
If you're wanting to join the musicians union to get gigs, you're in it for the wrong reason. That's not what they do. Yeah, you might get some gigs out of it, you'll get some connections and access to a database of musicians, but mostly what they do is what other unions do--they push for fair wages, help musicians enforce contracts (when they don't get paid), help with legal aid, fight against legislation that's "unfair" for musicians, etc. It's more of a "big brother" for musicians than it is a job-finding network. It's a resource. It's like car insurance--you join up, but you hope you never need to use it. However, car insurance companies aren't fighting for lower gas prices, smoother roads, and safer cars under the radar.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Are casio gigs union? Cruise ship? Broadway Musicals? A guest band on a late night talk show? Does the union expose you to enhanced IRS srutiny?

I have experienced ASCAP trying to shake down a bar for the live cover music being performed there. I'm not sure how I feel about that.
 

groove1

Silver Member
In the 60's and 70's I was in the Chicago Local 10-208 because it was required to play on a lot of the jazz gigs I was getting in downtown clubs, the hotel circuit etc. Those were the days! Piano, Bass, Drums and we made $100 each for 2 hour gigs. Minimum wage was about $1.25 to $1.65/hr then. It was a great time to be performing live jazz. I couldn't have
taken the gigs without being in the union, other than that, I got no real benefit by being a member.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Unfortunately, the union in Portland is pretty useless, unless you're playing in the symphony. I think before committing to joining, you should talk to some of your local pros who are doing the work you want to be doing. See if your local chapter is doing anything for them.

Larry, cruise ships I believe are completely non-union, casinos mostly (I think?) non-union, Broadway gigs are union, if you're lucky enough to get one. The ASCAP thing has nothing to do with unions-- that is a performance rights organization collecting royalties for commercial use of their artists' music-- if the club wants to feature music written by ASCAP-affiliated artists, they have to pay royalties for it, just like they have to pay for the beer they sell.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Does the union expose you to enhanced IRS srutiny?
Not enhanced per se, but I would think that all union income is reported, so I suppose the IRS would get a more complete picture of your income than if you did those gigs without official paperwork.

Bermuda
 

Living Dead Drummer

Platinum Member
I pay more for membership than any benefit I receive from being a member.

Bermuda
BOOM!

Exactly, I'm also a member of Local 47 in Los Angeles, have been for 3 years now.
The only reason I joined is because Street Drum Corps landed a residency at Six Flags.
Six Flags required us to be union and they have asked up back the last 3 seasons. Hence my 3 year membership.

I actually got my first union gig based on referral two weeks ago.
Local 47 started a musicians referral service last year to help land gigs. However they don't head hunt for you. They only recommend you should someone happen to call and ask. And that's exactly what happened, NIKE had an event and the entertainment director didn't know how to find drummers. So he just called the union and I was lucky enough to get the recommendation.
 

Bruce M. Thomson

Gold Member
Things have changed I am sure since the 70's but in Montreal at that time and presumably prior you had to be in the union in order to work the local bars.I was young and not playing gigs but our perception was that they were part of the Teamsters and if an owner hired a band that was not, they were paid a visit.
This was possibly because bands were hired for 3 week gigs at a time, a cool practice.
This could all be youthful misconception however Montreal did have a strong tie to Unions

If I was a Pro I would think that it could be a good thing to have on your side but the Pro's would know best.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
There is at least once tacit benefit to being an AFM member... you get 18% off your cellular phone with AT&T. So a $70 plan ends up with a $151 savings each year. Depending how much annual dues are, it might be a break-even situation.

Bermuda
 
Top