Americana Music Association Gets Off The Ground

Trade group takes a guerrilla approach to marketing eclectic music, borrows from Johnny Cash for its motto.

Slide guitarist Sonny Landreth, singer/songwriter David Olney and Dead Reckoners Kieran Kane and Kevin Welch helped the newly formed Americana Music Association introduce itself at the recent South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas.

The trade association seeks to champion the diverse array of musicians — much like those who performed at the AMA party — whose work doesn't necessarily fit clearly defined categories. Its motto is "We Walk the Line," a shout-out to Johnny Cash.

"This whole organization is driven by a lot of very passionate people who really believe in this movement," AMA President Dennis Lord, a senior vice president of business affairs at performing-rights organization SESAC, said. "It's a genre of music, but it's a movement also. And if that's an indication, then we can move mountains."

The association was conceived in a meeting at 1999's SXSW conference and formally organized in October, when participants agreed that a trade association was needed.

The association will research the Americana audience for purposes of identification and interaction. Its immediate agenda, Lord said, includes defining goals, attracting members, raising funds, interfacing with various sectors of the Americana community and coordinating the group's annual meeting in October.

There are three levels of membership, with corresponding levels of dues: Professional/Industry (Voting), $75; Professional/Artist (Voting), $35; and Associate (Non-Voting), $20. More information on the organization can be found at their Web site (americanamusic.org).

Besides Lord, the AMA's interim board of directors includes Jon Grimson, vice president (Counterpoint Music Group); Jack Emerson, treasurer (E-Squared); Grant Alden, secretary (No Depression magazine), J.D. May (Dead Reckoning Records), Al Moss (Al Moss Promotion), Scott Robinson (Arista-Austin), Jessie Scott (Gavin), Van Simmons (Bank of America), Tiffany Suiters (GTO Promotions), Traci Thomas (Grassroots Media), Greg Trooper (artist) and Steve Wilkison (Eminent Records).