Mike on America

CMA: Taking Care of Country Music's Business


What do Brooks & Dunn, Reba McIntyre, Alan Jackson and a yodeling 12 year old all have in common? The CMA.

CMA Music Festival

It's the Country Music Association. The 'trade' organization for country music, and one of the most unique operations in the multi-billion dollar music business.

Why? Because long ago, in 1958 the world of country music realized then unless they pulled together they would never get out of the South and West, never make it in California or New York or Chicago or Miami. There were no 'country' radio stations in 1958. Today there are 2,000 plus.

The best place to see the CMA work is at the CMA Festival in Nashville. Over four days, 160,000 rabid country fans fill venues all over Nashville. 400 artists, 70 hours of music. And all the artists, from the fiddlers in the convention center to Reba appear for free--no pay--Zippo. Why? It's their way of giving back to the 'fans' and to the CMA. The proceeds--over 350,000 dollars last year--go to the local Nashville schools for music education.

But on the business end it's even bigger. Unlike other music genre's, country's 'collective' attitude gives Fortune 500 companies a place to go gain entry to country stars. And the companies want to do that. Why? While the rest of the 'hit makers' were tanking in sales last year, country actually showed a marginal sales INCREASE. In the music business???

Ask any of the myriad of sponsors, from GM , to JM Smuckers , to Mary Kay why they're in Nashville for the festival, all they need to do is point to the convention center at 8 am. There is a line around the block. At 10 am they open the doors, and once inside, sometime over the four days nearly every big star and small will be at the convention center at least for a few hours singing autographs. And the loyalty goes both ways.

There are other festivals around the country that are older, bigger, with higher attendance figures. But there is none other as focused on 'taking care of business' like the CMA festival in Nashville. Yee Haw!

On the road in Colorado all week. See you at the rest stop near Pikes Peak.

Questions?  Comments?  mikeonamerica@nbcuni.com