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An Interview with Bobbi Boyce, the heart of the CMA.
By CSO European Contributing Journalist, Christian Lamitschka.

Bobbi Boyce has worked in the music industry for over 25 years now, the past 12 with CMA. Previously, she worked with Davy Jones of The Monkees, and they still work together on various projects including his publishing interests. She works between Nashville and the UK, but her duties include everything to do with international.

CL: Bobbi, this year the name of Fan Fair changed to CMA Music Festival. Why?

BB: The feeling was as the event had developed and moved downtown the name reflected more of what the event had become. The Fan Fair element remains however.

CL: What's different now by CMA Music Festival than when it was simply Fan Fair? 

BB: When Fan Fair was held at the Fairgrounds in Nashville everything was in one area, by moving it downtown it incorporates wide areas of downtown and the whole area seems to come alive. One of the most exciting things for me is that the clubs all get involved with After Hours events – restaurants, clubs, venues……..it is such an exciting experience. The heart of it remains the same, for the fans from the artists, but it has evolved into a world class event.

CL: How was the response to the CMA Music Festival 2004 from fans and artists?

BB: Everyone I spoke to really enjoyed it. The media seemed to like it more this year, as CMA work to make it even better they incorporate the recommendations from fans, media and artists alike.

CL: In Germany no one can see CMA Music Festival on German TV? Why? Is it to expensive to bring the CMA Music Festival to German TV?

BB: This was the first year that the CMA Music Festival had a TV special made around it. It went out on CBS but other than in Canada it was not available for international sale. This is being looked at for next year and hopefully it will be shown in territories outside North America, I think it would be wonderful for international fans who can’t travel to the event for one reason or another to have the opportunity to see it.

CL: Next big event of the CMA is the CMA Awards 2004. Can you tell us something about the history of CMA Awards and at which time the next award show will air?

BB: This is the 38th CMA Awards and it is a three-hour program that goes out live on CBS network in the US on 9th November this year. It is also shown around the world and different territories are picking it up all the time. BBC 2 in the UK will be broadcasting an edited version again this year and we expect that to be the weekend after the US broadcast. Millions of people watch it each year and it has come a long way from its beginnings in 1967 when it was the “CMA Awards Banquet and Show” and it was held at Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium and only 1,400 industry execs attended. The excitement backstage at The Grand Ole Opry House where it will be held this year is amazing – Walter C. Miller 
produces the show and Paul Miller directs it. An announcement will be made soon to see if the CMA Awards will be held in New York for the first time just for 2005.

CL: Who makes the decisions at the CMA, which artist, producers and etc are chosen for nomination?

BB: The CMA membership are the only ones eligible to vote. There are three ballots and no one knows until the envelopes are opened on stage on the night of the Awards who the actual winners are. The accounting firm of Deloitte and Touche tabulate the votes. The membership decide who the nominations are and then the winners……

CL: Why is it so important for artists and the rest of the people of the music industry to be a member of the CMA?

BB: CMA is a professional trade association for the Country Music industry and by being a member you have a voice in the direction the industry will develop. The prestigious CMA Awards are voted for by the membership of CMA. If you aren’t a member, you don’t have a vote.

CL: What does it cost for someone to be member of the CMA? Are there any differences?

BB: There are two levels of individual membership - $50 (regular) and $100 (sterling). In each of these levels you are entitled to vote for the Awards. Both categories again receive Close Up, which is CMA’s membership magazine six times a year. The sterling level also receives a CMA Directory that gives listings for artists, labels, touring agents, US radio stations etc etc. It is a brilliant tool for anyone working in the industry – a sterling member can also apply for CMA Awards show tickets. There is also an Organizational Membership, which is for an Organization (company) rather than the individual and that has different benefits. To be a CMA member you have to be working professionally in the Country Music industry.

CL: From the time you started with the CMA and to where it is now how has it changed?

BB: I think the industry has opened up tremendously. It is quite a different level of acceptance. There is a long way to go in different territories, but there is more interaction now than there used to be. A lot more people believe in Country Music than might be apparent at first glance…….this can only benefit the industry.

CL: We talk so much now about the CMA and there parties. Can fans be informed about the CMA and can they be a be member of the CMA? And what can they find there?

BB: Fans should go to the CMA web sites: www.CMAworld.com - www.CMAawards.com and www.CMAfest.com - they will find all sorts of valuable information there. Unfortunately, they cannot become members of CMA.

CL: Do you have a message for the European Country Fans?

BB: I really do think you are all brilliant. European Country fans are dedicated and loyal……and for an artist that must be an incredible feeling.

Christian Lamitschka ( Ch.Lamitschka@t-online.de )

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