1870: The National Association of Musicians, the first musicians' organization, was founded. The Association lasted about four or five years and left no printed records.
May 1886: The National League of Musicians of the United States was organized by delegates from New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Chicago, Boston, Milwaukee and Detroit. The League grew to about 100 locals but was against affiliating with the general labor movement. Conventions of the League defeated every proposition to affiliate-the last defeat took place in May of 1896.
1888: The Musical Protective Association, the first musicians' union in Los Angeles, was formed. It lived until 1890, then died of apathy.
October 19, 1896: Members of the National League of Musicians who wanted to affiliate with the general labor movement, acting with advice and assistance of the late Samuel Gompers, called a convention of their own to organize the American Federation of Musicians, affiliated with the American Federation of Labor. Many locals in the unaffiliated League applied for charters in the Federation. The League tried to bar Federation supporters from their convention, but the Federation obtained an injunction against their actions. From that moment on, the Federation grew in size and power and soon completely controlled the music business.
March 15,1897: Local 47's charter and affiliation was approved by the American Federation of Musicians. In 1900, its name was changed to Musicians Mutual Protective Association. In May of 1962, the name was changed to Musicians' Union Local 47. In July of 1995, the name was changed to the present Professional Musicians, Local 47.
1904: The union set the first wage scales (minimum prices) for orchestras traveling with comic operas, musical comedies and similar shows and attractions.
1907: On behalf of composers and the AFM, operetta composer Victor Herbert appeared before the U.S. Congress in support of copyright reforms.
1913: The AFM and the International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) signed an agreement to support each other during controversies in theaters.
1918: The AFM waged a campaign to prevent passage of the 18th Amendment, also known as the "Prohibition Amendment." To support the war effort, Congress adopted a 20% "Cabaret Tax" on admissions to various entertainment establishments. Both Prohibition and the Cabaret Tax decreased employment for musicians.
1919: The AFM worked to change immigration rules for musicians. It was successful in arranging easier access for musicians traveling between the US and Canada, while curtailing unregulated admission to the US of foreign musicians working for poor wages.
1922: The AFM publicized its opposition to child labor.
1927: The first "talkie," The Jazz Singer,was released, displacing orchestras in movie theaters. The AFM had its first encounter with wholesale unemployment brought about by technology. Within three years, 22,000 theater jobs for musicians who accompanied silent movies were lost, while only a few hundred jobs for musicians performing on soundtracks were created by the new technology.
1928: While continuing to protest the loss of jobs due to the use of "canned music"with motion pictures, the AFM set minimum wage scales for Vitaphone, Moviephone and phonograph record work. Because synchronizing music with pictures for the movies was particularly difficult, the AFM was able to set high prices for this work.
1930: Still working to save the jobs of musicians who played music for silent movies, the union established the Music Defense League to gain public support for its fight against "canned music" in movie theaters.
1940: James Petrillo was elected AFM President. He was to become a famous and pivotal figure in the union's development. Petrillo struggled to find ways to compensate the thousands of musicians who continued to lose work because of recording. As a result of his efforts, the AFM and the recording companies agreed to create the Recording and Transcription Funds (now called the Music Performance Fund) which continues today to promote music appreciation and music education through sponsorship of free public performances throughout the U.S. and Canada.
1940s - 1960s: During this "Golden Era" of Hollywood, Local 47 musicians could be found playing at legendary venues all over Los Angeles. Read more about the history of live music and Local 47 here.
January 21, 1950: Local 47 celebrated moving to its current location at 817 Vine Street in Hollywood. The Dedication Day featured many celebrity guests (including Jimmy Durante, Bing Crosby, Les Brown and late Honorary Member Bob Hope), the administration of Local 47, and hundreds of musicians performing all over the building throughout the day. The event was broadcast over international airwaves. (See the Dedication Day program)
1951: The Lester Petrillo Fund for Disabled Musicians was created by President James Petrillo in memory of his late son.
April 1, 1953: The previously segregated unions Locals 47 and 767 consolidated. Read more about the amalgamation of the two Locals here.
1959: Through negotioations with the record industry, the first AFM pension (AFM Employers Pension Welfare Fund) was established.
1961: TEMPO was established as the union's political action committee.
1969: The AFM recognized the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Mucisians (ICSOM) as an organization representing orchestral musicians within the union.
1975: The AFM recognized the Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM) as an organization representing orchestral musicians within the union.
1982: The AFM recognized the International Recording Musicians Association (RMA) as an organization representing recording musicians within the union.
1984: The AFM recognized the Regional Orchestra Players Association (ROPA) as an organization representing orchestral musicians within the union.