THE CMA MISSION
By: Ed Benson, CMA Executive Director
I would like to provide a little insight which might give you a better understanding on your issues with CMA.
First and foremost, I think, is a basic understanding of CMA's mission, what it tries to do, and what it does not attempt to do.
CMA's main mission since it was formed in 1958 has always been "to broaden the awareness of Country Music among the general public." We go about this mission in many ways. Two of the best known are the CMA Awards and Fan Fair. But we also extend our reach in an ongoing effort to influence and assist the international media who write about and cover the music and the artists.
Additionally, we are the only music trade organization which has continually targeted ad agencies and corporate marketers with campaigns to get them to understand the scope and quality of the Country Music audience, and how valuable a target they are for selling all kinds of goods and services. This unique and important initiative helps to keep them advertising on Country radio and in Country fan publications as well as supporting Country programming on television, all of which serve to accomplish that main CMA mission I mentioned above.
So, in fact, what CMA tries to do is support the "whole" business.
Now, let me address a couple of the things CMA does not try to do which you refer to in you message.
CMA does not become directly involved in the business interests or endeavors of any of its members. Our job is to try to elevate the commerce of the industry as a whole. We want to make the pie bigger so that everyone's slice can be more handsome. I strongly believe that the CMA's efforts have had a very direct impact on the growth of Country Music over the past four decades.
During this time, many companies and many artists have come and gone, and there really isn't anything CMA can do about the specific business fortunes of any of its individual members. Who succeeds, who becomes a star, etc. are matters completely out of our control.
About opportunities for independents: You can find me on record many times in the press talking about the importance of independents and individual entrepreneurs as a vital component of our industry. Nothing makes me happier than to see a healthy independent operation, whether it is a label, a publisher or a radio station. Independent business people, writers and artists are a large portion of CMA's 6,000 industry members.
When it comes to the CMA Awards, who appears on the telecast is primarily dictated by the award nominations. All independents are eligible in the CMA Awards voting process. If fact, it takes only ten qualified nominations to make it onto the second ballot. This year I was proud to see two independent labels with final nominees. Dreamcatcher had Kenny Rogers as a finalist for Single of the Year, and Kenny performed on this year's show. Also the Bellamy Brothers on Blue Hat Records were a final nominees for Vocal Duo of the Year.
Every one of CMA's individual members has the right to vote throughout the awards process, and they decide who gets this important recognition. It is not me, it is not the CMA board or any committee. And, I reiterate, any artist is eligible if nominated by at least ten of CMA members.
What I hope you will understand is that CMA does not create opportunities for artists or companies. They must do that for themselves. CMA provides the mechanism for the industry's preeminent recognition of accomplishment, the CMA Awards. And CMA strives to provide a more receptive media and more willing advertisers to support the media and make Country Music available to more consumers.
I hope that you would seize the opportunity to have a voice in the CMA recognition process by becoming a member again. You, along with nine other industry associates who are members, can put one of your artists in nomination for a CMA Award.
I cannot promise you that CMA is ever going to attempt to advance the fortunes of any individual or company. But I can promise you that we will continue to work year round to enhance the image and popularity of Country Music, and to create a more viable commercial potential for all our members.
Barbara, thanks again for writing, and I wish you much continued success in your company's endeavors.