Austin Federation of Musicians

Big Bird Remains Union

  December 11, 2015  

I’m pleased to announce there is a new agreement with Sesame Workshop.

Earlier this year, Sesame Workshop announced a partnership with HBO bringing first-run episodes of Sesame Street exclusively to HBO for the next five years. After nine months of appearing only on HBO, shows will then air on PBS.


This new HBO deal caused some trepidation as negotiations began. For some years, musicians navigated relations with the non-profit Sesame Workshop rather than a huge multinational media conglomerate.

We remained steadfast throughout negotiations and reached a better contract than we ever have. The nine-member Sesame Street band will see increases in wages, healthcare contributions and pension contributions.

Musicians standing together have the power.

In Unity,
Ray Hair
AFM International President


  August 10, 2015  

Changes to help protect endangered elephants were recently proposed by the Obama Administration that would further restrict the import, export, or sale of ivory in the U.S. Our union has been working with the administration to ensure that revised ivory regulations make it easier for musicians that have instruments containing ivory.

The proposed regulations would allow musicians to travel with legally crafted instruments containing 200 grams or less of worked ivory if you possess a CITES permit and the ivory was legally acquired before 1976. The regulations would also remove restrictions on traveling with musical instruments purchased after February 25, 2014 as long as your instrument meets the other travel requirements. If you need a CITES permit, please visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for more information.

Please note the proposed guidelines would impact instrument sales so review the proposed guidelines if you are planning on buying or selling an instrument.

We applaud the administration for listening to us, but we do have concerns that the proposed language concerning provenance of ivory in instruments is unclear for musicians. These rules do not go into effect until the public has commented on them.

Please take a moment right now and request the administration clarify the proposed regulations. You may write you own comments or just paste the comments below.

I’m a professional musician and am troubled that the proposed regulations are unclear regarding what documentation I need to prove provenance of instruments containing ivory. Aside from information included in the antiques section of the proposed rule, please provide clarification on exactly what documentation the USFWS will accept as positive proof of provenance of ivory in instruments. 

Musicians standing together have the power.

Music & Memory Project

  June 4, 2015  

Music and Memory Helps Improve the Lives of People with Alzheimer’s

Some Texas nursing homes will soon begin using individualized music playlists to try to reduce the use of antipsychotic medication for people with Alzheimer’s and other memory disorders.

The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) has selected 32 nursing homes from the many facilities that were nominated to participate in a pilot project for the Music & Memory program. The goal is to help residents reconnect with the world through specific, music-triggered memories. Family members and nursing home staff will create personal playlists for use on digital music players, such as iPods.

Dan Cohen, who founded Music & Memory, believes that musical favorites tap “deep memories not lost to dementia and can bring residents and clients back to life, enabling them to feel like themselves again – to converse, socialize and stay present.”

What’s happening in Texas

DADS is using existing Civil Monetary Penalty funds to certify nursing homes to participate in the program. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has approved the pilot.

Participating facilities agree to:

  • Have a minimum of 15 residents participate.
  • Expand the initiative in its own facilities.
  • Participate in monthly educational webinars.
  • Share data with DADS, including:
    • the percentage of residents receiving anti-psychotic medication pre- and post-pilot, and
    • progress made toward the goals, including reductions in anti-psychotic medication usage, decreased falls, and improvements or declines in other CMS quality measures.

About Music & Memory

A documentary about Cohen’s work, Alive Inside, won the Audience Award at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Clips from the film are available on YouTube and demonstrate the impact a personalized music playlist can have on someone with Alzheimer’s or another cognitive impairment.

Cohen’s ongoing research has shown:

  • Residents are happier and more social.
  • Relationships among staff, residents and family deepen.
  • Everyone benefits from a calmer, more supportive social environment.
  • Staff regain valuable time previously lost to behavior management issues.
  • There is growing evidence that a personalized music program gives professionals one more tool in their effort to reduce reliance on anti-psychotic medications.

Want to learn more?

For more information about the Music & Memory pilot, email the DADS Quality Monitoring Program at


Austin Music Census

  June 4, 2015  

The Austin Music Census is here! Click on the image to read the report! 

We want to send out a big thank you to Titan Music Group, LLC for all of their hard work on this census and survey!

To urge change and have the Austin City Counsel read the report click here and send them an email.

Flying With Your Instrument

  March 27, 2015  

This first edition of the AFM’s Complete Guide to
Flying with Your Musical Instruments contains
useful resources and information that will enable
you to navigate the complex world of government regulations that affect musicians’ travel, both domestically and internationally. It contains applications, web links, new regulations and travel tips designed to make your travel experience incident free. If any difficulties are nevertheless
encountered, documents are included that
should ease your interaction with airline ground and flight crews, customs officials, TSA personnel and others along the way.

Please familiarize yourself with the contents of this guide. Information is the key to making your travel experience safe when flying with your valuable instruments. We wish you safe travels and we will continue to work tirelessly to advance the interests of professional musicians everywhere. 

To read the full guide click The AFMs Complete Guide to Flying with Your Musical

Sincerely and fraternally yours,
Raymond M. Hair, Jr.
AFM International President

ATX Music Census & Survey

  November 14, 2014  


Stand Up.jpg sized for FB


Austin music and entertainment industry: WE NEED YOU! Please participate in the Music Industry Census and Needs Assessment Survey. Help the Citys ATXMusic Office plan for our industrys future in #ATX. TAKE THE SURVEY NOW AT



AFM Entertainment

  June 10, 2014  

AFM Members check out  AFM Entertainment, the Union’s booking agency.

“At AFM Entertainment we place our talented musicians with potential purchasers. When this happens we all gain… while at the same time helping your local musicians gain exposure and get work.”

-Kevin Penny


For more info visit

Austin Federation of Musicians: The Heart of Texas Music

  November 4, 2013  


AFM member James “Jamie” Desautels and Secretary-Treasurer Nicole Bogatz (Local 433, Austin, TX) came up with an idea: to share with AFM members the adventures of a fellow member currently on the GRAMMY ballot, and a day in the life of a local Secretary-Treasurer. They held an informal Q and A session at the Austin Federation of Musicians’ office. Here are highlights from their conversation: The Austin Federation of Musicians-The Heart of Texas Music

A Nice Note From A Member

  October 22, 2013  
Dear Mr. Hale,
Thank you for your years of service to Local 433 of the American Federation of Musicians. 
Your leadership has kept our brotherhood and sisterhood together in a time of unprecedented attacks on organized labor.
Your absence will be felt.
Yours in Solidarity,
Gene Elders

The Man Behind Carl Thiel Music

  September 24, 2013  

Carl Thiel, member of Local 433 since 2004, is the owner of Carl Thiel Music. After completion of his latest movie score for Machete Kills, Secretary/Treasurer, Nicole Bogatz, decided to sit down with Carl for a little Q & A. To read the full article click The Man Behind Carl Thiel Music.