Frequently Asked Questions

Photo: Walter Karling

UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2022:

 Who runs the union?

Local 802 is run by three officers, the President, Financial Vice President, and Recording Vice President, and is governed by an Executive Board, all of whom are elected by the membership. The Executive Board is made up of active, working Local 802 members.


See a list of staff or learn how to contact Local 802 at: https://www.local802afm.org/contact/


What are my rights as a union member?

Members in good standing have the right to vote in union elections and contract ratifications, as well as the right to attend and vote in membership meetings. As a member, you can also serve on union committees and caucuses that are relevant to your work as well as run for elected office.

What’s the difference between “membership dues” and “work dues”?

Paying your membership dues keeps you a member in good standing of Local 802 (regardless of how much work you do). Membership dues are currently $55 per quarter, or $220 per year. A $5 discount will be applied if you pay for an entire year, in advance.

Work dues are the union dues that are paid as a small percentage of your union scale wages. For live engagements, the percentage is 3.5%. For teaching engagements, the percentage is 2%. For union recordings, the percentage is between 4 and 4.5%. These are traditional union dues, which make up the bulk of Local 802 income. Work dues allow us to enforce the contract you work under, and to negotiate new contracts.


Want to pay your dues online or have questions about dues? Start at https://info.local802afm.org or send an e-mail to membership@local802afm.org


What happens if I need to leave Local 802?

Whether you are moving, going on tour, or just taking a break from playing professionally, you can pause your membership by resigning in good standing. You must be paid up to the current date and resign in writing to the membership department.

If you live or work in multiple jurisdictions, you can also join multiple AFM locals at the same time or transfer your membership from one local to another.

Your Work

  • Now that I’m a union member, does that make all my work “union work “?
    • In order for your gigs to be “union,” they need to be covered by a union contract (which is an agreement between the musicians and the employer). Contact the Organizing Department if you are interested in bringing more of your work under union agreements. The benefits of working under a union contract include job protections and entitlement to employee benefits programs.
  • Will the union help get me work?
    • Local 802 is not a hiring hall and does not directly provide members with work. However, there are union-sponsored programs that do, (such as Music for the Soul). For information on the various employers covered by 802 contracts, or for information on our referral service, see the Local 802 website.
  • Can the union help me with an issue at a non-union job?
    • You have more protections on the job when you’re working under a union agreement. However, workers in all industries can use collective action to improve working conditions, even if they are not currently covered by a union contract. Contact the Organizing Department if you’d like to discuss your options.

Union Benefits:

  • How do I get on the union health plan?
    • Under most union contracts, your employer contributes to the Local 802 Musicians Health Fund on your behalf for each gig you play. If a certain amount of contributions are made on your behalf during a six month Contribution Period, you will be eligible for health coverage during the corresponding six month coverage pThe Loeriod. For more information on the Local 802 health plan, start here: https://www.local802afm.org/healthcare/
  • How do I get a union pension?
    • Under most union contracts, your employer contributes to the AFM and Employers’ Pension Fund (AFM-EPF) on your behalf for each gig you play. The fund is a defined benefit pension plan. The fund allows musicians to accumulate individual pension credits throughout their careers and secure a financially sustainable retirement.
    • Contact the Pension Fund directly at 212-284-1200 or afmepf.org
  • Does the union regularly provide any networking opportunities?
    • Local 802 regularly hosts various events (including membership meetings, concerts, clinics, panel discussions, and committee meetings) at local802asm.org/local-802-events

 Other Resources/Benefits:

  • Questions about flying on an airplane with your instrument? Start here: https://www.afm.org/what-we-are-doing/travel-resources/afm-travel-kit/
  • Local 802 website: Our public website is at www.local802afm.org and our private membership portal is at https://info.local802afm.org. The member portal allows you to pay your dues online, view your union work history, search for members in the 802 directories, update your contact info, and download union documents including the 802 bylaws, contract forms, and skills for different kinds of union work.
  • Allegro: All union members get a subscription to our award-winning digital publication of news and articles important to the music industry and our union.  Allegro includes audition announcements! You can access the archives of Allegro articles online at www.local802 afm.org/allegro
  • Low-cost rehearsal space: Members can rehearse their ensembles at modest fees (roughly $10 an hour) in one of two rooms in the union hall: the club room (good for large ensembles, approximately 32’ x 44‘) and Room B (better for smaller groups, approximately 20’ x 26‘). Chairs and stands, as well as various other instruments/equipment provided at no additional charge. Rooms are for rehearsals only (you may not charge admission or use spaces as a catering hall, etc.), and no recordings can be made unless filed under contract with Local 802. To make a reservation, start here: https://www.local802afm.org/rehearsal-space-rental/
  • Instrument Insurance: there are a number of insurance policies Local 802 members can access through the AFM. To learn more about the plan, start here: https://www.afminsurance.com/
  • Unclaimed checks:  Local 802 collect checks for members from the Sound Recording Special Payments Fund, the Film Musicians Secondary Market Fund, the AFM and SAG-AFTRA Fund, Sound Exchange, AARC, and the Escrow Fund of New York State. For more info, start here: https://www.local802afm.org/unclaimed-checks/
  • Music Performance Trust Fund: Funding is available for musical performances meeting certain guidelines set by the Recording Industries Music Performance Fund. Co-sponsors required. Start here: https://www.local802afm.org/music-performance-trust-fund/
  • Actors Federal Credit Union: 802 Members are eligible to join the Actors Federal Credit Union. Currently, the most accessible branch is the Times Square location at 165 W. 46th St., New York, NY. AFCU is owned and run by its members, meaning any net income earned is returned to members in the form of dividends on deposits or discounted loan pricing, including affordable instrument loans. For more info, start here: https://www.actorsfcu.com/
  • Musicians Assistance Program and Emergency Relief Fund: All Local 802 members and their families are eligible for this free and confidential program administered and professionally staffed by the Entertainment Community Fund (formerly the Actors Fund). The program services include financial aid, counseling, referrals, and resources for anything ranging from personal, family, and work issues and substance abuse to child care, elder care, financial assistance, legal services and work/life seminars on topics like financial management and healthcare.  Start at https://erf.local802afm.org 
  • Lester Petrillo Memorial Fund for Disabled Musicians: The Petrillo Memorial Fund is a charitable trust fund that provides financial aid to disabled AFM members on an emergency basis. To learn more about the Memorial Fund and how to apply for aid, start here: https://www.afm.org/petrillo-memorial-fund
  • Anne Walker Scholarship Fund: each year, Anne Walker scholarships are awarded to members of Local 802 and their children who are pursuing the study of music at an institution of higher learning. The deadline to apply each year is typically in early May. For more information, send an email to Maureen Cupid at mcupid@local802afm.org 
  • Union Plus Program: as a current or retired union member, you are automatically eligible for AFM‘s union plus benefits. Create a free account and find out what discounts and benefits you’re eligible for at unionplus.org
  • Friedman Health Center for the Performing Arts: A health center conveniently located in Times Square for NYC’s entertainment community, so you can make appointments before or after gigs! The health center is a program of the Actors Fund and Mount Sinai Doctors, offering primary and specialty care. For more information, start here: https://entertainmentcommunity.org/services-and-programs/friedman-health-center-performing-arts 

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.