Author: Campbell, Bruce

You Are Good For the CBA (and vice-versa)

(Happy birthday, Katy!)

Remember the line from the old American Express commercial? “Membership has its privileges!” This is the message the CBA is trying to convey to its members, because the organization needs its members. But sometimes we have difficulty communicating the privileges of CBA membership in compelling terms.

This is because the benefits of the CBA, and being a member of the CBA, are broad based, and don’t lend themselves to simple bullet points. It may difficult to justify membership in the CBA on a stark balance sheet. Yes, the cost of membership will pay for itself with the discounts to the events if you go to even just a couple of events, and it’s nice to have the Bluegrass Breakdown sent to your home, but your accountant may or may not characterize it as a savvy investment.

Truth be told, discounts to events are not the best reason to become a CBA member. The real benefits the CBA offers aren’t limited to its members – they apply to every fan of Bluegrass in California, and beyond the state’s borders to a degree. The CBA’s mission of preserving and promoting Bluegrass, Old Time and Gospel music in California is the well from which the value of the CBA gushes. And it’s real.

If you’re a Bluegrass fan, the existence of the CBA contributes to the availability of bluegrass in your area. If you’re a Bluegrass musician, the CBA helps generates demand for your craft, and sometimes directly provides a venue for you to ply your trade. These things are the reasons that you should be a member of the CBA! Discounts to events and the Breakdown are great, and if they get you off the fence, great, but it’s the deeper benefits that you need to consider.

As broad as the value proposition of the CBA is, the reasons I have heard for not being a member are often as narrow as a laser beam. Let me list a few for you:

* “I don’t read the Breakdown anyways” – It’s an award-winning publication, nationally – no, internationally recognized, but that doesn’t change how you feel. No newspaper can appeal to everyone! But do you go to concerts, go to festivals, go to campouts, go to jams? Then you should be a member.
* “My band never gets hired for their events” – There could be a million reasons for this. Maybe the competition in the year(s) you submitted stacked up against you. Maybe your demo needs work. For this you want to punish the entire CBA?
* “I don’t like their new logo.” Huh? You hold a grudge against the CBA because you liked the old logo? Please consider the level of joy the old logo brought you. Did it make you feel warm and fuzzy every single day? Did you stop drinking Pepsi or Coke because they updated their logos?
* “I don’t the like the people on the Board of Directors” – Let me get this straight. Since you don’t like the Board, your measured response to this is to ensure you have zero input on the composition of the Board? Your plan to improve the CBA is withhold support for it?

Bottom line – any non-profit organization lives and dies by its membership. Think of the big picture. If you like Bluegrass, if you play it, if you like watching other folks play it, then it’s worth $25 a year to support an organization that does so much, directly, and indirectly, to ensure that you will have places to go, people to play with, and great acts to see. That $25 is not extortion, nor is it a Papal indulgence. It’s a modest contribution to an organization that is dedicated to a very worthy cause. If you truly can’t afford the $25, then God bless you – please enjoy the benefits the CBA brings to the Bluegrass scene in California, and we are thrilled to contribute in some modest way to your quality of life.

But if you are a Bluegrass fan, and have adequate means to afford the membership dues, please don’t let petty concerns, or petulant protests prevent you from being a member. If you’re in a working Bluegrass band, the membership dues should be a normal part of the cost of doing business. You benefit materially from the CBA, and you should participate materially in its wellbeing.

Participation! This is what it’s all about. The CBA benefits all California Bluegrass fans, members or not. But by being a member, you contribute to the engine that drives those benefits. Your modest dues make a vital difference – don’t doubt it for one second. And even after you’ve paid your dues, your presence at concerts, jams and festivals also contributes. Your vote in the Board elections (even if your candidate “never wins”) contributes. And if you can volunteer ANY of your valuable time, that also contributes.

In a troubled economy, we all have to be very careful with our money. Spend it wisely, on things that matter. I think the CBA matters.

Posted:  2/11/2009

Copyright © 2002 California Bluegrass Association. All rights reserved.
Comments? Questions? Please email