Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS THE MUSICIANS' ASSOCIATION? CFM 820 is a provincial chapter of the Canadian Federation of Musicians. Also known as the Newfoundland and Labrador Musicians' Association, our professional association was founded in 1981 by Newfoundland musicians who felt we needed our own local organization to unite and represent players. We are also Local 820 of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada, the AFM.
WHAT IS THE AFM? Membership in the AFM makes us part of a continent-wide family of performers, composers and recording artists. We benefit hugely from being part of this international network, but we also have our own national Canadian office in Toronto. We elect our own local, national and international officers as part of the AFM. Because the AFM is a federation of local associations it is referred to as the Federation.
WHAT DOES THE FEDERATION DO? The Federation represents musicians in negotiation with the recording, film and television industries, sets standards for employment and provides many benefits and services to musicians. Major offices in Toronto, New York and Los Angeles monitor broadcast and movie use of music to make sure musicians are paid fairly for their work. Our Toronto office offers other services including help with US visas, movie and television contracts, etc. Membership makes you part of a huge network of musicians and performers. You can rely on this network when you tour, perform or record. It can help you find places to play, others to play with and support services. It offers you a chance to work together with fellow musicians to influence public policies, working conditions and rates of payment for the work you do. The Federation is an international democratic organization in which every member has equal voting rights.
WHAT SERVICES DOES THE CFM OFFER? The most important services offered by the CFM are contracts to protect performers and recording musicians, free legal services to back up these contracts, residual payments to studio musicians for recording studio work, new use payments if recorded music is later used for television broadcast or movies, a great pension plan, affordable worldwide insurance for your instruments and equipment, access to a medical plan, assistance with visas to tour and perform in the United States, help contacting other musicians, employers and setting up performances and grants to support free public performances in schools and communities.
HOW DO CONTRACTS WORK? Each time you play under a CFM contract, there is a legal agreement in place with your employer. This protects you in case the engagement is cancelled, you aren't paid your contracted fee or working conditions are not acceptable. The local association files the contract and the AFM provides legal backup and emergency funds. Minimum fees for musical services are set by the members and are kept reasonable to encourage use of contracts. Each time you work under a contract, an additional percentage of the scale wage is paid into your pension fund and a smaller amount (usually 3%) is collected from you as "work dues" to support services to members.
WHO SETS THE WAGES SCALE AND PAYS WORK DUES? Work dues and minimum "scale" wages are voted on by all the members of our local association. Work dues are charged to visiting performers as well as local players, based on the same scale as for local players, to support our services.
DO MEMBERS HAVE FREE LEGAL SERVICES? Yes, as a member of our association and the Federation you have access to the services of a legal assistance team standing behind you each time you play under contract. You can call on us for free advice and support at any time. If a contracted gig is canceled, and you are stranded, the Federation can also provide emergency travel funds.
AND RECORDING RESIDUAL PAYMENTS? Through many years of negotiation with major record labels, a Special Payments Fund has been set up to provide added compensation to those who record music. Musicians who record in Canada or the US under a union contract are entitled to receive these funds. If you work on a recording that hopes to generate more than 2000 copies sold in Canada, your residual payments can add up to more than 40% of what you were paid in the studio. This applies to those who record their own music as well as musicians who work for major record labels. Contact us for details.
WHAT IF RECORDED MUSIC IS USED FOR A FILM OR TV? If you record under a CFM contract, and the music is later broadcast on television, used in a film, video or in any other new format, everyone who recorded it will be paid their entire studio fee all over again, each time there is a new type of use. Some musicians have received five times their original studio fee, as a result! These "new use" payments come from 17 different agreements, already in place, thanks to AFM negotiation.
MUSICIANS HAVE A NATIONAL PENSION PLAN? The Musician's Pension Fund in Canada is one of the best pension plans in North America. Each time you play under contract, a percentage of your scale wage is collected from your employer in addition to your fee and deposited in your pension account. Usually the rate is 10%. Once you reach 55 years of age you will qualify for payments that continue as long as you live; these payments increase as long as you keep playing.
INSTRUMENT INSURANCE TOO? Through HUB International Insurance in Ontario, members have access to affordable instrument and professional liability insurance to protect themselves and their gear. Coverage is worldwide and claims are easy to settle. Our members have used this service in the past and have found they are well protected against loss and damage to their instruments and equipment.
AND A MEDICAL PLAN? Through HUB Insurance we also offer extended medical coverage to AFM members. This medical/dental plan covers dentistry, chiropractic, naturopathy, massage, counseling and prescriptions.
PLUS HELP WITH WORK VISAS? If you play in the United States without a visa or work permit you can be barred from performing there for five years. Our national CFM office in Toronto specializes in setting up US visas for Canadian performers. The US immigration services also charges its own fees, but it will cost only $100.00 to get your visa paperwork completed.
AND INFORMATION SERVICES? Because there are AFM locals across North America, you can check out an employer before you agree to perform, find other musicians to accompany you or find out about accommodation and touring options through the AFM.
WHAT DOES IT COST TO JOIN THE ASSOCIATION? Initiation fees are $25 to the local and $65 to the Federation. These fees are paid by anyone joining for the first time, but are not paid by those who are students or under 21 years of age. If you join as a part of a group, your initiation fees will be waived. Each year, you also pay membership dues. Membership dues in this local are currently $155 a year or $85 per half year. Student membership is $110 for the full year and $60 per half year. Finally, each time you perform under an AFM contract work dues are deducted to help run the Federation and the Local, 3% ($3 per $100) for live performance or 5% ($5 per $100) for a recording contract. We are here to serve and support you. We will be happy to answer any question you may have, whether you are a member of our association or not. Please call or email if you want to find out more.