Changes at EBMA

As has already been anticipated the European Bluegrass Music Association (EBMA) is making changes to improve it services and modernize the way that it operates.

Among the changes are new, reduced, membership fees and benefits to make it more affordable across the whole of Europe, the introduction of a monthly electronic newsletter and a modernization process that makes use of what the organisation describes as “the e-system process”.

Recently Bluegrass Today spoke to Eugene O’Brien, EBMA Chairperson, about these changes. 

Let’s start with the positive elements, as O’Brien notes “… running EBMA with a more modern and professional approach towards the fans, performers, festivals and associated commercial activities… shops, luthiers etc. seeing cost low, fees low but increasing overall revenue through increased membership and advertising on the web and newsletter.”

Reduced membership fees – 50% for standard members and approximately 25% for active and band members – have been in place since March 1st of this year.

These reduced membership fees have come with a cost, depending on your point of view. For O’Brien the “negative bit will be Bluegrass Europe magazine no longer existing, printed or online…we never even got to the online stage.” He explains, it was, “too expensive to produce the printed edition, which would have pushed up membership fees, it consumed 90% of income, [needing] too much work to do an online edition and EBMA is not a publishing company for a limited number of members.”

He did go on to praise all who helped in the production of Bluegrass Europe. “[It] played a vital part in the history and development of EBMA and in supporting bluegrass music in Europe. A deserved thanks is due to all who worked on it and contributed to it over the past years; they did a great job!”  

O’Brien stresses, “With the newsletter we can reach people who are not members and encourage them to join.”

The previously quarterly magazine Bluegrass Europe ceased publication last year.

So much for the past.

The EBMA is to produce an annual CD featuring EBMA bands and artists. It will be free to all members and it will be used to promote EBMA bands and artists to talent buyers and broadcasters.

O’Brien “hopes to get it done and dusted for EWOB (European World of Bluegrass Festival, May 25 – 26 – 27, 2017, Voorthuizen, The Netherlands) where we will have a booth in the trade room.”

O’Brien also told us about how the EBMA plans to modernize their processes. “The annual members meeting will be done through an e-system survey and consultation process for approval of the audit report, elections to the Board and any other matters, etc. This process will to enable all members to have a greater voice and to better engage in the running of the association.”

He goes on to add, “the current bylaws will be replaced by a new constitution that will take into account the changes to the way in which the association will operate The draft constitution will be circulated to EBMA members through the e-system process for comments and change proposals and then for final approval.”

O’Brien concludes, “most of all, we want to run EBMA so that it does more for European bluegrass….. Such as putting EBMA bands in touch with talent buyers in Europe and the USA, promote EBMA band’s upcoming gigs on FaceBook and Twitter….six/four and two weeks ahead of time, help bands/performers with their first CD, continue and build on the youth Scholarship program. Eventually to sponsor concerts.”

The European Bluegrass Music Association is a non-profit organization for the promotion of bluegrass music and to support the European Bluegrass Community.

The full Press Release, issued on March 3, 2017, can be read online.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics.

A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe.

He wrote the annotated series I’m On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.