Frequently Asked Questions

Photo: Walter Karling

Q: Why should I join the Local 802 community?

Being a professional musician is not a hobby – it is a calling, a passion, and a career path that should allow us to both create art and develop our craft while also making a fair living. It’s only through collective action and advocacy that musicians can gain the power to attain a healthy and secure living which will allow us the freedom to pursue our artistic goals and a fulfilling career.

Individually, membership in the union can provide us with many concrete benefits: decent wages, health insurance, a pension when we retire, access to low-cost loans through the Actors Federal Credit Union, help when we are in trouble through the Emergency Relief Fund, legal advice, grief counseling and career seminars through the Actors Fund, and many more. Find out how to access concrete benefits of 802 membership here.

Collectively, it can provide political power to effect change on a grand scale, maintenance of across-the-industry standards for the benefit of the entire community, and the power to influence employers, thereby improving the quality of our lives. Joining a union means that you believe that all musicians and performers should be treated with the dignity and respect that the art form deserves, and that together we can have the strength to uphold the standards and values that we expect.

Q: What do union dues pay for?

Union dues pay for all the services that the union provides – negotiating and administering contracts, resolving conflicts in the workplace and pursuing grievances when resolutions cannot be found, legal help for members and low-cost instrument loan, to name a few – and fair wages and benefits for the staff who provide these services.

Q: Do I have to be a member to get a union gig?

No, but if you are hired to play in a union ensemble, you must become a union member. Because this industry is largely audition or ensemble based, you do not have to be a member before getting a gig in a union ensemble or at a signatory venue.

Q: How do I rent the Rehearsal Space?

See the Rehearsal Space Rental page. The Clubroom is a rehearsal and performance space that can be rented by anyone, but at a discount for members.

Q: How do I file a contract and which one do I use?

See the Contracts page to find out what type of contract may be most appropriate for your work.

Q: Where can I find my health insurance claim forms?

See the Health Care page for a complete description of our health insurance resources, as well as the necessary forms.

Q: Is my employer a signatory?

See our signatory list to find out if your employer is a signatory of Local 802 AFM.

Q: How do I qualify for a pension?

See the Pension page. Musicians who perform or file work under a union contract may qualify for the American Federation of Musicians & Employers Pension Fund.

Q: Does Local 802 help me find work?

We cannot guarantee any musician a job, but we can guarantee that every member stands to gain from joining our community and taking collective action. Members can enroll in our Musicians’ Referral Service, our online referral directory. Find out how to enroll here. Members may also advertise in our award-winning monthly news magazine, Allegro.

Q: What are royalties?

Royalties are residual payments made to recording musicians based on sales and/or public uses (including licensing and internet streaming) of the recorded product.  In the past, record companies were obligated to make payments to all musicians who performed on the recordings they distributed and sold.  While that is still true, there are so many more avenues of production and dissemination available to those who make recordings today. As a result, performers rely on performance rights organizations such as SoundExchange and the AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund to monitor the various broadcast platforms and collect and distribute the payments owed. If you think you are owed royalties for your own recorded work product, please visit SoundExchange, AFM & SAG-AFTRA, or contact the AFM Electronic Media Services Division.

Q: Can I practice at home?

Yes, you can practice in your home/apartment. No matter what your neighbor might say, the law is on your side: professional musicians have the right to practice in their apartments during reasonable hours. However, there are limitations, set by NYC regulations and rules that may govern your particular building. See our article “Practicing At Home” for further information.