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Forum

This section is designed to let you have YOUR SAY on any subject relating to Australian country music.

This is a moderated list which means all postings are vetted, but mainly only for purposes of decency, clarity, relevance and brevity (there is no place here for long winded ramblings). Lengthy submissions may be accepted if deemed suitable.

In making your submissions, you may use a pseudonym, but first and surnames should be included marked NFP (not for publication) if that is your desire.

Some suggested subject areas might include comments on recordings, concerts and performances; industry matters (such as recording tips, queries) and so on.

We welcome your input. Simply email forum@countrymusicbulletin.com.au.


CMAA – industry association or not?
February 21, 2008

Dear Sir

We write as owners of the name, and operators of the, Australian Country Music People’s Choice Awards held in Tamworth every January for the past nine years.

Anyone aware of the current controversy surrounding the Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA) and their action in trying to register the Australian Country Music Foundation’s name “Australian Country Music Hall of Fame” will also be aware that at the same time the CMAA applied to register that trademark, it also applied to register our “Australian Country Music People’s Choice Awards” business name as a trademark.

Unlike the Hall of Fame name application, we do understand that in the dog-eat-dog world of hard-line business operation, if someone hasn’t registered a trademark and someone else can apply for and justify why they should be able to register said name, then it’s fair game.

Our concern in highlighting the CMAA’s action in our situation is that, up until now, the Association has operated as an industry organisation with objectives including words like “support”, “encourage” and “represent” in their objectives, one of which clearly states “to protect the interests of all sections of the Australian country music industry”.

And we understood the CMAA had a long-term policy, written or otherwise, not to compete directly with other operators in the industry.

Given these known “ideals” we were obviously gob-smacked when we saw our activity, which we were carrying on with the permission and blessing of the originators, and which we had invested many thousands of dollars in further developing, was under threat, not from another business but from our so-called industry organisation.

Not that we have any problem with the CMAA presenting another set of awards, as we understand they want to do outside of Tamworth, it’s just such a shame they couldn’t think of something original rather than trying to “hijack” our activity and name.

If it is not very careful, the CMAA, which gains a degree of funding from government, and, indeed, is seeking yet more support from Tamworth Regional Council and the NSW State Government to fund the staging of the Golden Guitar Awards, will lose it’s right to plead “the cause” when it is seeking such support.

As we said earlier, we don’t have a problem if the CMAA wants to operate as a competitive and ruthless business operation rather than an industry organisation.

But it can’t do both.
Bob Kirchner, Jim Guider

Supporting Eric
February 15, 2008

Dear Sir

We write in  support of Eric Scott's "letter to the editor" last week in matters relating to the Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA), specifically the issue surrounding that organisation's attempt to trademark our Australian Country Music Hall of Fame name.

As a member of the Australian Country Music Foundation (ACMF) Board, Eric shares the general frustration and exasperation the ACMF has encountered during a period of some 15 months since we discovered, purely by chance, that the CMAA was trying to trademark our name – an action which took place entirely without our knowledge and for which we still do not have a satisfactory explanation.

When the situation regarding the trademark application became known, the ACMF immediately contacted the CMAA expressing our concern but received no response. After an inordinate amount of time and effort, a response was finally received but nothing was actually done until June last year when the CMAA's Chairman and General Manager met with the ACMF Board and unequivocally stated the application would be withdrawn.

Now, a further eight months later, the application still has not been withdrawn and the ACMF is now beginning to wonder if there ever was any real intention to do so and we are beginning to question their real motivation. As Eric mentioned in his letter to the editor, we were advised as recently as two weeks ago that action had been taken to withdraw the application (the inference was "some time ago").

We asked at the time for some evidence regarding the application withdrawal (the ACMF can be forgiven at this stage for not trusting or believing the CMAA) but, despite an assurance that this would be forthcoming, again, nothing has been received and, according to the official website of the organisation which handles trademark applications, as at the time this letter had to be submitted for publication, the CMAA application for our name was very much still current.

Through this entire "saga" the ACMF has acted with complete integrity, respect and courtesy (many have said "too much") towards the CMAA, in the knowledge that a public "stoush" like the one we are now having would not be positive for either organisation or the industry in general. But it’s our last resort.

We are obviously disappointed that the CMAA has not responded in like manner to us, to the issue or to our concerns. Indeed, their attitude has come across as one of high-handed arrogant dismissiveness. As late as this week, the CMAA is still not responding to our pleas to simply do what they said they would.

When we finally got the CMAA to talk to us about what they had done, they said they had applied for the name as a means of protection. A ludicrous proposition in anyone’s language (applying to register someone’s trademark surreptiously and supposedly on their behalf, regardless of any advice or perceived threat).

And now, the very fact that a conflicting application (theirs) exists seriously jeopardises the potential for our application to succeed, for as long as there is more than one application for any such name the likelihood of any application succeeding is diminished.

The CMAA’s supposed “concern” when they submitted their application appears now to have turned to one of disinterest and disdain.

We now ask again for the CMAA to act decisively, to do the right thing, to withdraw the application, or to make sure it has been withdrawn, as they said they would. And to do it now.

The Board
Australian Country Music Foundation

Blatant duplicity
February 7, 2008

Sir,

Let me clarify the two factors in the current Golden Guitar Awards/Country Music Festival debate.

There are two separate issues. Firstly that of the “Golden Guitar Awards” and secondly that of the nature of the Festival itself - should it be a “Country Music” festival, or a “Music” festival.

Let me address the first issue.

The CMAA has vehemently denied that the possible movement of the Awards to another city has been discussed. This is not true.

Inside sources are only too well aware that the idea WAS seriously floated and the very high profile artist member of the CMAA who did so, has been actively seeking heavy money and support, particularly in Melbourne.

Despite what they are saying, the CMAA are keeping their options open. Look at the evidence.

This past year, the golden guitar logo has been dropped and a “Country Music Awards” one has replaced it - nary a golden guitar in sight!! All publicity and spokespeople of the CMAA now never refer to the Golden Guitar Awards - it is always “The Country Music Awards.”

About 18 months ago, it was accidentally discovered on the Intellectual Property of Australia (trade mark registration) website that the CMAA had been surreptitiously attempting to register as trade marks, a number of names that do not belong to them. Examples of this are “The Australian Country Music Hall of Fame” and “Australian Country Music People’s Choice Awards.”

The latest registration applied for and accepted is the generic “January, Australia’s Country Music Month.”

These registrations can well be utilised in cities other than Tamworth.

When challenged by the owners of “The Australian Country Music Hall of Fame”, the feeble excuse was that they were trying to “protect” the names from the Americans, and un-named “people” in Sydney. Trying to protect us in secret ??

Since October 2006 the CMAA has refused to withdraw their applications whilst claiming as recently as two weeks ago to have done so. Both applications have still not been withdrawn as at 4th February 2008.

This is just an exercise in control.

All of the above prepares the way for the “Country Music Awards” to be shifted from Tamworth if it is deemed necessary in order to secure big sponsorship. The “Golden Guitars” can’t be moved, but the premier C.M. awards presentation certainly can.

What the CMAA fails to realise is that with big money and TV they are playing with fire. If they achieve their objective for more glitz and glamour to massage the egos of some country music artists, then a TV network will demand more than Guy Sebastian (well known hillbilly?) and Georgie Parker et. al. The CMAA will totally lose control of the fire.

I make the point that the Tamworth Festival and the name “Country Music Capital of Australia” has prospered and promoted the name of Tamworth on a world wide basis totally without a nationwide telecast and its attendant dangers.

The fact that the CMAA has condoned and promoted “Golden Guitar Awards” functions which now use the talents of non country acts like Marcia Hines, Jimmy Barnes, Guy Sebastian and other pop luminaries is an insult to the small number of Tamworthians who, in the 1970s, held a vision of a festival and awards specifically for Australian country music fans, artists and industry.

In the past five or so years, under the CMAA’s watch, the Golden Guitar Awards have been prostituted.

Contrary to the public claim that the CMAA has conducted the Awards for 38 years – they didn’t. It has only been since the inauguration of the CMAA in 1992, that they took over from Broadcasting Amalgamated Ltd. (2TM) and the Higginbotham family, whose efforts for country music were exemplary.

The present course of action has mainly occurred in the past four or five years when many of the key board positions of the CMAA have become infiltrated by non-country music movers and shakers with their own agendas.

It more than saddens me, that the efforts of so many dedicated people, who have had the country music genre at heart, have been placed in jeopardy.

Eric Scott,
Tamworth

Radio statons needed
August 14, 2007

I'm about to release a 24 song compilation of cross-over country recordings and I'm looking for interest from radio stations... from anywhere.

After a singing career spanning 40 odd years, I've decided it's time to put my fears aside and let the broader public hear what I have to offer. Although "some" of my material has been aired over the years in Australia and overseas, the unavailability of product [records] has stunted any real exposure.

Past releases, 1978. "EASY on the senses" featuring Ann Leuba... Band "Sundowner, "songs "Time" and "Diana", 1974. "Light Of Our Love" [custom], Opal Records, Tamworth. "Country Styles" [Desert Records,Perth].

If you can help, drop us an email.westsong@bigpond.com.Blessings from WA
Bryan Wiseman

Tribute to Shorty
July 5, 2007

Hello there

I was just looking at your website and i noticed that you had some imformation about Shorty Ranger, And thought i would email you to let you know he was a great man!

Very sad to say but he passed away not long ago and you probably think how does she know this? Well i know because i am his grand daughter! I miss my pop and was wondering if you could put a little tribute for his fantastic talent!

Thanks heaps
Shyafira Haberfield

DB’s Response to JW
June 12, 2007

The Davidson Brothers do not know John Williamson on a personal level, but like many Australians we grew up listening to his music and have utmost respect for the man.

Like him, the Davidson Brothers agree that "APRA Song of Year" should only be open to be won by a songwriter who is either born in Australia or an Australian citizen.

However, we would like to address the issue he raised about Australians recording overseas.

There is a myth amongst country music artists in Australia that you need to have your album produced by one of the 5 or so leading producers in our industry to gain airplay and respect from the industry. Furthermore, you need to spend upwards of $30,000 to record the album, before even printing or promoting the album.

Many Australian independent acts are willing to fork out the dough and spend years trying to recoup their costs. Including two return flights to Tennessee, we recorded our album for half of the best quote we got from an Australian producer; we had world-class musicians play with us; and we recorded the album in half the time it would’ve taken in Australia. Raised on the Road recorded live, mixed and mastered within 8 days. It was printed a week after that.

We should mention too that more than half of the instruments and vocals you hear on our record were put down by Aussies and all the pre and post production was done in Melbourne.

For us though, playing bluegrass music, we chose to record our Raised on the Road album in Madison, Tennessee. Our reasons being that we didn’t feel any Australian producer had the appropriate experience in recording bluegrass and the standard of the musician wasn’t at an international level. We do not for a minute deny that bluegrass is American music, but it is music that we are passionate about. We didn’t want musicians on the record that only play bluegrass occasionally. We wanted musicians on our record who like us play bluegrass every day. Otherwise it would be like putting an amateur swimmer in the 100m sprint at the Olympic Games.

The majority of times we have done recording sessions in Australia it has been the first time they have seen a banjo, fiddle or a mandolin, let alone recorded them. We wanted to work with a recording engineer who records bluegrass on a daily basis.

The major festivals put artists into two categories: Professional and Hobbyists. We do around 150 gigs a year and are still considered hobbyists, but this categorisation determines how much the artists will be paid. The "professionals" do 20% of the shows at a festival for 80% of the budget and the "hobbyists" do 80% of the shows 20% of the budget. Once the majority of the festival’s budget is spent on the "professional" artists, the "hobbyists" compete for the remainder of the gigs by undercutting each other’s performance fees.

We often budget for a festival knowing that we have to sell at least 70 CDs (depending on what percentage the festival might want to take on your sales) to break even and we only get paid if we sell more than that. Unfortunately for us it’s either this scenario or stay at home. In the USA, they have a musicians’ union which moderates their industry and uses a scaling system which dictates what musicians must be paid for certain gigs.

In closing, if the Davidson Brothers were to write a song with a foreigner (which we haven’t yet) we simply would not enter it in "APRA Song of the Year". Although we intend to live and tour in Australia until we die or it is no longer profitable, we are unlikely to record another album here.

Hamish & Lachlan Davidson

Best wishes from Aly
June 10, 2007

To all DJs, Stations, Staff & Listeners & Fans in Australia...

I have been seeing the devastation of the flooding in Australia on the TV. Many of the areas affected have radio stations that have supported my releases, interviewed me and I have many fans out there in those areas. Country Storm is still on many of your playlists.

I send wishes that you are all safe and recovering from the devastation across the Tasman.

As one who lives in rural NZ and has suffered from severe flooding. I know how it feels to be up to your waist in water moving stock... how tiring and frustrating it is cleaning up after a flood... especially for farmers after such a long drought.

Best to you all and be safe

Aly

Australia stand proud!
June 6, 2007

Good on you Deneise & John

I write as an outsider, although I am a music historian with a love of country music in general.

My friends in the Northern hemisphere share my appreciation of our artists & songwriting down under.

Australia stand proud!!

Protect our product.. one day those who disagree with you at the moment will thank you.

Peter Ramsey

Supporting John
June 4, 2007

Since resigning from the board of the CMAA earlier this year I have, with respect to the Association and my colleagues with whom I worked to establish this body, remained silent.

John Williamson’s statement, however, has given me the confidence that after all there just may be someone else who is prepared to stand up and be counted alongside me.

I stood for the Board of the CMAA and was elected last October in the hope that I could make a difference. I resigned because those who gave me support privately felt that they could not stand beside me in the public arena.

I care about the future of the CMAA and the Golden Guitar, not to mention the Tamworth Country Music Festival… thanks JW for having the guts to have your say.

Deniese Morrison

An open letter to the Australian country music industry
June 1, 2007

I write as an individual, proud Aussie; not as President of the Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA).  I am just one voice.

Members of the Association are about to be asked to vote on several Golden Guitar Award changes, including the APRA Song of the Year.  It is this one that concerns me most.

Should an Australian receive a Golden Guitar for a song that is co-written, say 50 percent, with a foreigner?  I say NO.

I don't say an Aussie shouldn't co-write with a foreigner, but that that song shouldn't be eligible for a Golden Guitar. Why?  Because already there are Golden Guitars awarded to Aussies who record in Nashville studios, using American musos, American producers etc.  The APRA Song of the Year is the last straw.

Surely the CMAA is there to support the AUSTRALIAN Country Music industry.  It's up to the judges, but the trap is that I can see up-and-coming Aussie talent being discouraged to use our studios, our musos, our producers etc (who, I might add, are as good as any in the world, but refreshingly different) and also think they have to co-write with an American to make it.

Our songs should reflect our unique culture.

I can already hear the “Australianness” disappearing from our Country Music.  We do have our own sound.  We do have our own character that is unique and should be encouraged.  Why?  Because otherwise we might as well be just another branch of an American industry.  This is not McDonalds.  This about being proud of who we are.  Our kids need that more than anything else.  What message are we giving them?

Do you care?  Or is it just about making it in "The States?

John Williamson

Song query
May 8, 2007

hey, I heard this song on the radio and i would really like to find out who sings it. It is by a girl with a really rich aussie accent.

some of the lyrics are;

and i dont like the thought of being bored....a girl in love is something you cant buy

[yeh im happy just the way things are boy theres not much more that i need..
dry land crops doesnt need alot of rain
a shower now and then will get it threw

so cancel those dinner reservations
instead lets take the dogs down to the creek
we'll pack a picnic lunch, we'll lay there in the sun
what a perfect way to end the working week.........]

yeh......i dont know the rest but if you know who sings it please email me

nofxdave@hotmail.com

Tamworth Festival
May 2, 2007

Personally, we had a RECORD YEAR at this years Tamworth Country Music Festival ... in more ways that we would have ever expected ... over 1800 fans came to our shows at the West Tamworth Sports and Bowling Club ... with most days, we were turning an average of 40 to 60 people away.

We are at a loss to come up with a reason as to WHY this happened this year ... however many radio and media folk who came to the show were really kind with their comments ... and these were that the show was real value for money ... which is nice.

Whilst some said these nice things about our show, they were saying it in association with other comments ... and ONE glaring opinion was ... that to see a couple of the BIGGEST NAMES coming to the festival ... doing one show ... and charging ridiculous admission prices ... WAS DISGUSTING ... AND A RIP-OFF.

This is on top of some acts that charge ridiculous ticket prices to their daily shows ... and in some cases, two shows daily.

I agree. And I believe there is a lesson for some of these greedy performers ... and that is, they should have a look at some of the BIGGEST NAMES IN WORLD ENTERTAINMENT that perform for months on end ... and in a lot of cases two or three shows per day at a MINIMUM PRICE TO THEIR FANS ... (a LOT cheaper ticket prices than some of the performers during the Tamworth Country Music Festival) ... and I am talking about Branson in America.

Surely, some of these local performers should get in the spirit of things (after all it is a FESTIVAL ... and it wouldn't be ANYTHING ... if it wern't for the fans) ... and give a little BACK to these very fans who put them where they are now ... and once again ... I believe it is these greedy performers who take a fair bit of money away from some of their most loyal fans who are forced to pay the exorbatant Tamworth accommodation rates (ANOTHER rip-off) ... and in some instances who can't afford to see everyone and everything they would like to see and do during the festival ... because the dollar they have saved (in some cases for YEARS) only goes so far.

I realise that quite a lot of our talent has gone to Nashville to hopefully learn a lot ... they have written some good and very ordinary songs with some good and in some cases, very ordinary American writers ... some have recorded over there ... and this is fine for those who get this opportunity, however FOR THE MAJORITY, THIS IS JUST A DREAM ... so hopefully, for the sake of progressing our wonderful "AUSSIE" country music scene this year HERE ... there will be a brand new batch of talent ... writing good songs HERE ... becoming more proficent with their instruments HERE ... scraping those extra few dollars together to record that all important "demo" or release HERE ... and finding some caring person/manager who will guide them to the next level of their hopefully developing career ... so that a lot of other folk associated with our wonderful industry get the opportunity to participate as well ... the LOCAL recording studio's will become BETTER ... the LOCAL producers and engineers will record and produce BETTER ... the LOCAL musicians will play BETTER ... EVERYBODY WHO DESERVES TO ... can have a hand or play a part in developing our next generation STARS ... HERE.

Whether you agree with me or not ... we are all entitled to out opinion eh? Let us KEEP IT AUSTRALIAN EH?

Having said all of the above ... Gee I am so looking forward to next years FESTIVAL ... and a big congratulations to all the great talent who won this years awards ... and those TWO PARTICULAR SONGS ... "THE NEW BUSH" and "POSTER GIRL" (I believe one of the best Aussie songs ever written ... good onya Beccy) ... gee, what great songs ... and how great it is ... that they were BOTH written HERE.

Yours sincerely
Jade Hurley OAM


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