Cornell University

Catherwood Library

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Question of the Month

From the Catherwood Library reference librarians

November 2003

PLEASE NOTE: The Reference Question of the Month is kept current only during the month for which it was written. Archived questions will not be updated, and over time may contain inaccurate information or broken web links. We provide archived questions as a service, since much of the information will remain accurate and of continued interest to the ILR community.

Question: What sources will help me find information about musicians' unions and issues related to the working musician?

Answer: For general information about musician's unions online, a good place to start is the MusicBizBuzz site, which contains a list of links to union web pages around the country and internationally. An even more extensive list, including associations in related fields such as broadcasting and production is housed on at, as well as This site also contains helpful resources in areas such as publishing, copyright, and trademark information. The Internet Public Library site also has a large list of links to musician-related sites and associations, including resources for composers, musicologists and music educators.

The International Federation of Musicians (FIM) has an excellent site relating to health issues for the working musician, International Health and the Musician, with an expansive list of links and resources from all over the world for musicians in such areas as hearing loss, misuse/overuse, physical injury and rehabilitation, and ergonomics.

The largest and most prominent labor union for musicians is American Federation of Musicians. This site houses resources and services for members and non-members alike, including links to musician and entertainment news, tools for booking performances and travel, legal and health advice, product information, along with current labor news and a timeline history of the union.

Finally, the following books, available at Cornell Library contain a wealth of detailed information about the history of musicians' unions in the United States, particularly focusing on the effects of race, technology and politics:

  • ILR ML3795.S19
    Spivey, Donald. (ed.)
    Union and the Black Musician: The Narrative of William Everett Samuels and Chicago Local 208
  • ILR ML3795.S46
    Seltzer, George.
    Music Matters: The Performer and the American Federation of Musicians
  • ILR ML3795.B87 1997
    Burlingame, Jon. (1997). Foreword by Ed Asner.
    For the Record: The Struggle and Ultimate Political Rise of American Recording Musicians Within Their Labor Movement
  • ILR ML3795.K86 1996
    Kraft, James P. (1996).
    Stage to Studio: Musicians and the Sound Revolution, 1890-1950
  • ILR HD6515.M95 A522
    Leiter, Robert David.
    The Musicians and Petrillo

— Researched by sbg13