The American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) has announced the details of its new A2IM Artist Pro Program, which allows members access to group health insurance and other benefits with a $99/year membership. Through an online storefront dubbed the A2IM Benefits Store, members can purchase dental, vision, personal items protection, renters and home insurance, legal services, pet insurance and more. According to Billboard, “about 30” of A2IM’s 600+ indie-label member companies signed up for A2IM’s group insurance plans when they rolled out in September 2022. The A2IM Artist Pro Program now offers those benefits to individual members, regardless of their employer, which an A2IM rep says have “slightly more favorable pricing” than plans offered through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), colloquially known as “Obamacare.”
Musicians signed to recording contracts with record labels are typically not classified as employees—who would be entitled to the company’s benefits package—but as independent contractors who share profits from the sale of their recordings according to the terms of their contract. Those signed to deals with one of the three major label groups (Universal, Sony, and Warner) are automatically eligible for insurance benefits through SAG-AFTRA, a labor union which covers around 5,000 vocalists in addition to television and film performers. The American Federation of Musicians (AFM) covers close to 70,000 instrumentalists, and also offers insurance plans to its members. In 2021, the Recording Academy announced it had partnered with a company called Stride Health to create an online portal that helps its members navigate the healthcare marketplaces governed by the ACA.
Many uninsured musicians have been forced to fundraise in order to pay for unforeseen medical costs. 2011, DJ Premier shared on his Sirius XM radio show that DJ Kool Herc—the DJ who, with his sister, threw the party in the Bronx 50 years ago that is being celebrated this year as the birth of hip-hop—was in dire financial straits after suffering health problems. In 2010, it was revealed that Big Star’s Alex Chilton had not sought medical attention before he died because he did not have health insurance.