New York, NY — At the 102nd Convention held in Las Vegas, NGV, Tino Gagliardi was elected International President of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada. He takes over from Ray Hair, who had served as the International President since 2010.
Gagliardi has a long and distinguished career with the union. He has been an AFM member since first joining Local 216 (Fall River, MA) in his hometown in 1974. He has worked as a professional trumpet player in New York City’s concert, club date, theater, and recording fields. He served as Local 802 (New York City) president and executive director from 2010 to 2018, and again beginning in 2022. As president of Local 802, Gagliardi led negotiations for all of the major music contracts in New York City, including Broadway, the Met Opera, New York Philharmonic, New York City Ballet, and many others.
At the national federation level, he has served three roles: director of theater, touring, and booking; international representative to the eastern territory; and assistant to the international president. He served as an AFM International Executive Board member from 2010 to 2019, where he worked on the finance, electronic media oversight, and organizing committees.
Gagliardi serves as trustee to the American Federation of Musicians and Employers’ Pension Fund and AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund, and is on the executive board of SoundExchange.
He was sworn in as AFM international president on June 29, for a three-year term that began on August 1. The Local 802 Executive Board unanimously appointed Sara Cutler to fill out the remainder of his term as Local 802 president through December 31, 2024. The next elections at Local 802 will take place in December 2024.
LaborPress asked Gagliardi about his goals, the rise of Artificial Intelligence and its threats to the livelihood of musicians, how the union can achieve the best for its members going forward and much more, as he embarks on the next level of his career.
LP: You have said that “friends and allies inside and outside our profession” are critical to success in your goals. Can you be specific as to who these folks are that you are referring to?
TG: The power of the labor movement has always been solidarity. The AFM is affiliated with AFL-CIO and its national and international unions; the Department of Professional Employees; the International Federation of Musicians (FIM), the National Music Council; and the Canadian Labour Congress (the federation of unions in Canada). We have strong allies in the MusicFIRST coalition and with other arts unions such as Actors’ Equity Association, SAG-AFTRA, Writers Guild of America, and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.
If we draw on our solidarity, we can use our presence throughout the entertainment industry to accomplish our goals of fair treatment, compensation, and respect for the value of our work on behalf of all the musicians who make up our great union.
LP: How do you stand on the issue of the striking actors and writers?
TG: We stand in solidarity with and fully support the actors and writers in their strike. AFM musicians, who create the music for motion pictures and television, are next at the bargaining table with AMPTP this fall, and some of our most pressing issues are the same. We are making ourselves visible by bringing our instruments to rallies and events in support of our colleagues on strike, while we prepare for our own upcoming negotiations.
We are also on the eve of preparing to negotiate with the Broadway League for the Theatrical Touring Trade Agreement. Like with the film and theatrical television negotiations, touring musicians face many issues on the road. Fair treatment, fair pay, and meaningful health care for traveling musicians, plus the use of technology, are just a few issues to be addressed in these talks.
LP: What legislative issues are the priority for the AFM?
TG: The AFM’s legislative office in Washington, DC, closely monitors topics and upcoming legislation that is of interest to both members and non-member musicians as well as working families across the country. Our members have been actively involved in advocating for important priorities that include the American Music Fairness Act (AMFA), Performing Artist Tax Parity Act (PATPA), travel and visa issues, strong funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, and the regulation of artificial intelligence (AI). We also advocate for issues that affect all workers, such as a better and fairer health care system as well as protecting workers rights to organize.
LP: How does the rise of AI threaten your members?
TG: The increasing presence of AI in music — replacement, augmentation, and replication technologies — poses a significant threat to musicians. It is not a new fight for us to protect against the theft of our intellectual property, exploitation without compensation, and the replacement of musicians by technology and artificial intelligence. But, with the advent of ever more sophisticated AI technologies, the fight today has reached a point of no return. If we lose this fight, we lose jobs and livelihoods that will not be reclaimed in our lifetime, and the music industry will be negatively impacted in a way that it may never recover from.
LP: How will you fight the “musician replacement technology” you are referring to?
TG: Many of our employers do not appropriately value our product. The first step in changing that is for us as musicians to affirm the value of our product and stand together and insist on being paid fairly for both the initial and subsequent use of the content we create.
We must develop organizing models and tailor them to the specific discipline we are organizing. We cannot organize film musicians the same way we organize symphonic musicians; we cannot organize pit musicians like we organize jazz, freelance, or club musicians. Each of these disciplines is essential to our union and by finding effective ways to reach these musicians, we will grow and strengthen our union.
It is also imperative to bring this discussion to light with our audiences. Through strong messaging and advocacy campaigns, we can also build support among consumers—concert attendees, theatergoers, and those who watch the movies that our soundtracks bring to life.
LP: Could you expand on the AFM’s initiative to build stronger relationships with EDM, DJ, and hip hop artists?
TG: Since the dawn of the 21st century, the AFM has adjusted, adapted, and battled in countless ways to continue to support its members. As our industry has evolved, we can be proud of the steps our union has taken to continue to ensure all content creators live and work in dignity, are compensated fairly, and have a meaningful voice in decisions that affect them. While many of our locals are made up of traditional instrumentalists from all genres, we are attempting to do more to welcome and organize DJs, hip-hop, and EDM artists. By actively reaching out to all music creators, we will strengthen our union and its ability to advocate for all.
LP: You have referred to the importance of investing in education. Can you expand on some of the details of that goal?
TG: Underpinning effective organizing is a corps of dedicated and educated local leaders. To that end, we must commit to expanding our existing programs to offer local leaders the knowledge and resources they need to grow and strengthen our locals and, by extension, our Federation. New programs are being developed in focused areas. For example, during 2023, the AFM launched a new officer diversity training program. It was gratifying to see that our convention delegates also saw the significance of education and organizing and communicated that these programs should be a top priority for the new administration. I look forward to working to make their vision a reality.
LP: As the new International President, can you sum up where the AFM stands in the entertainment industry, and how you think you can best accomplish your goals?
TG: There is not a single component of the entertainment industry the AFM doesn’t have a stake in. We are everywhere. If we draw on our solidarity, we can use our presence throughout the entertainment industry to accomplish our goals of fair treatment, compensation, and respect for the value of our work on behalf of all musicians who make up our great union. We are the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada. We can do great things if we do them together.