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What is the AFM?

AFM Local 820 is a provincial chapter of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada. 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. 

Membership in the AFM makes us part of a continent-wide family of performers, composers and recording artists. We benefit 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 AFM do?

The AFM 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 work permits, film and television contracts, etc.


Membership makes you part of a huge network of musicians and performers (over 80,000 members). 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 AFM offer?

The most important services offered by the AFM 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 work permits 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 much does it cost to join?

For new members, Initiation fees are $35 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 at an accredited school, college or university or a youth who is 20 years or younger.


Annual Membership dues for Local 820 are currently $160 a year or $90 per half year. Youth memberships (aged 20 years or younger) are $115 for the full year and $65 per half year.

New members can join online here:


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 contact us if you want to find out more.

Can musicians have a pension plan?

The Musician's Pension Fund of 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 between 10% - 18%. 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.

How do I become vested?

How do I become vested? A musician becomes vested in the Fund when they have earned 24 months of vesting service without having a 6-consecutive month period with no contributions during that period.


For example, a musician does an engagement on October 28, 2017, for which a pension contribution is made on their behalf. They will become vested on October 28, 2019 as long as they do not have a 6-consecutive calendar month period for which they have no pension contributions. In other words, after the first engagement they must have a contribution at least every six months in the 24-month period. Most musicians vest in this way. However, a musician can also become vested in one calendar year if they have covered earnings representing 35% or more of the YMPE (Years Maximum Pensionable Earnings). For 2018, the YMPE is $55,900; making 35% of that $19,565. If a musician had pension contributions representing at least $19,565 in covered earnings in 2018, they would become vested on January 1, 2019.


Covered earnings are scale wages on which pension contributions have been made to the Fund. Once vested, a musician cannot become “un-vested” and, is entitled to a benefit from the Fund.


Disclaimer In the event of any differences in interpretation between this article and the official Rules and Regulations of the Plan, the official Rules and Regulations of the Plan will apply.

How does MPF-Canada Compare to RRSPs?

View MPF-Canada and RRSP Comparisons


What kinds of insurance do you offer?

Instrument / Liability Insurance


Features of the Program

  • All-risks’ coverage on your instruments and equipment

  • Worldwide coverage - no Territory Exception

  • Rental Reimbursement -- up to $10,000 in coverage, if you need to rent instruments or equipment in the event of a loss

  • $100 deductible per occurrence on instruments and equipment, as opposed to other proposed rates are $250

  • Up to $2,500 coverage on promotion material, T-shirts, CD’s, posters, etc.

  • Loss of earnings up to $5,000 due to loss or damage to venue

  • Loss of earning up to $5,000 due to loss or damage to equipment

  • Locked vehicle – no exclusion

  • Rented, Leased or Borrowed Equipment, $10,000 limit up to 30 consecutive days

  • Optional Commercial General Liability including bodily injury, property damage, medical payments, tenants legal liability and non-owned automobile


Instrument/Equipment Insurance Rates

  • $2.20 rate per $100 sum insured for Instruments and Equipment ($100 deductible)


Liability Insurance Rates

  • $500 deductible

  • $1,000,000 limit - $66/member

  • $2,000,000 - $127/member
    Higher limits available upon request

  • (Higher limits available upon request)

This coverage is available only to AFM members. To learn more about becoming a member please contact Cathy Lee at


Musicians' Instrument Equipment Liability Application

For questions on the program or to submit your application please contact:

Hub International
Cristina Omar
3063 Walker Road
Windsor, Ontario,N8W 3R4
Telephone: 519-325-1785
Fax: 519-966-6177
Toll Free: 1-800-463-4700 Ext. 1785


What is Union Savings?

In partnership with Union Savings, a not-for profit program, we join 70 fellow unions across Canada so our members and their families can access exclusive discounts on various products/services.

These savings range from credit cards, travel insurance, clothing, car rentals, concerts and more! Get discounts from vendors like Canada’s Wonderland, LG, Samsung, Indigo, Adidas, BMO, RBC, Park’N Fly, 1800Flowers and Swarovski.

To register

1. Create your Union Savings Account.

Go to and select Canadian Federation of Musicians as the union.

2. Select your local and complete all fields. 

3. After your account is created, log in. This will allow you to access the deals. For any questions on the discounts listed on the site or login issues, please contact Union Savings at, 1-800-418-2990.

Do you have a medical plan?

Customizable health and dental plans are available to AFM members through Great West Life in collaboration with HUB International. In addition to health and dental benefits, there are other program types including Critical and Disability, Evacuation Services and Expatriate Plans. For quotes on Health and Dental CLICK HERE.

For any questions on health plans and benefits, or to apply please contact:

Jennifer Francis: 416-597-7729, or Nicole Apostolidis: 416-591-7051,

Do you have travel insurance?

The cost of receiving emergency medical care abroad can be staggering. Before you leave the country for work or vacation, make sure you’re protected.

The CFM offers Emergency Medical Travel Insurance at preferred rates through our Discount Savings Program exclusive to members and their families. $138.99 gets you coverage for a year world-wide, applicable to as many trips as you like (as long as each trip is 60 days or less).


So for example, you can have coverage for 3 trips that are each 50 days long. Please contact Cathy Lee, Membership Services Coordinator for more information:, 416-391-5161 ext. 231.(1-800-463-6333).

Can you help me get a U.S. work permit?

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 work permits for Canadian performers.

The American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM) is recognized by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as an authorized petitioner for temporary work permits on behalf of AFM member musicians.  Therefore, Canadian members who wish to perform (work) in the United States may apply for non-immigrant work permits through AFM. The AFM provides the exact same level of service as immigration lawyers or visa service agents.

The AFM provides immigration consulting services to members and non-members alike. However, petitioning for P2 Work Permits is a member-specific service, processed by AFM’s Canadian Office on behalf of Canadian AFM members exclusively.

For more information on how to apply for a P2 work permit, please visit:

Do you offer 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.

How do contracts work?

Each time you play under an AFM 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 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.

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