The RAMIs, they are a changin’

As the 15th Annual Rockford Area Music Industry awards (RAMIs) approach on April 20, the process of the event and the structure of the organization evolve.

With more than 70 people in attendance, the RAMI committee held its first open meeting for all Rockford-area musicians, sound technicians, music venue operators, music organizations, music promotion companies and music industry-related media/journalists at 7 p.m., Jan. 26 at Giovanni’s restaurant. Enthusiasm and interest, along with some skepticism, was voiced by various people in the public and private comments from the audience.

This year’s voting procedures and proposed changes to the RAMIs were discussed, including the organization of an association of local music industry professionals to be directly involved with the RAMIs. That information is included verbatim in this article.

Dan Eisman, lead man for The Missing Links and RAMIs committee member, hosted the discussions and presentations, stressing everyone’s feedback and resources are necessary to make the RAMIs a better organization.

He noted that the fall and spring fund-raisers for the RAMIs bring in more money for the scholarships than the awards ceremony. He also thanked the many bands that performed at those events and the growing number of fine volunteers.

Despite this progress, Eisman said many complaints have been registered with committee members through the years. Dissatisfaction with nominations and ballot stuffing is well known, even though the committee has worked very hard to fine-tune procedures around those factors.

Eisman said it was time for the RAMIs to evolve into an organization in which musicians are nominated and voted on by their peers. The model is similar to that of Hollywood’s Academy Awards or Milwaukee’s WAMIs (Wisconsin Area Music Industry awards). In fact, RAMIs Committee members traveled to Milwaukee to have a seminar with the WAMIs organization.

The goal is to have another informational meeting in May and have a minimum of 200 voting association members by September.

Eisman said music-goers should not think they are going to be excluded. People’s choice awards will be part of the restructuring, aiming at a more professional approach. Voting will still be available by print ballots and online.

The committee wishes to thank the Castrogiovanni family for donating the room and sound system at Giovanni’s for the meeting and for the fall benefit.

Karen Howard, executive director of Charlotte’s Web and RAMIs Committee member, presented a report from the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois regarding the Gary S. Wilmer/RAMI Music Scholarship Fund, established in 1997, as follows:

“Starting Balance: $4,046.00; Total Contributions: $60,182.42; Total Scholarships: $26,250.00; Average Scholarships per year: $2,763.16; Gain due to investment: $10,106.90 or 17 percent of total; Balance as of 9/05: $39,419.00; Distributable Amount for this year’s scholarships so far: $1,880.68.”

Howard said 21 graduating high school seniors pursuing advanced study in music have received scholarships, ranging from $500 to $2,500. For a complete listing of students, scholarships awarded, high school and college attended, go to “Online Exclusives” at rockrivertimes.com.

All of the following material was handed out at the meeting for assessment and suggestions. See references at the end of this article for your input.

Proposed RAMI Association Purpose

The Rockford Area Music Industry (RAMI), a grassroots music coalition, organizes community events to recognize and honor Rockford area musicians and technicians as well as providing scholarship opportunities for graduating high school seniors pursuing advanced study in music.

Membership

Only open to bands, sound technicians, music venue operators, music organizations, music promotion companies and music industry-related media/journalists.

Annual Membership fee

Bands: $10 per member-$15 for two years

Venues/businesses: $20

Media/Journalists: $20

Membership benefits

1) Nominating bands to be included on the RAMI Awards ballot.

2) Voting for the winners in each RAMI Awards ballot category.

3) Bands: Inclusion in the RAMI Association band directory.

Venues: Inclusion in the RAMI Association venue directory.

4) Quarterly meetings to network with other musicians.

5) Two or more Association seminars per year.

6) A ticket for each member to the Awards show. Each venue/media membership gets two free tickets.

Proposed Organization Structure

Executive Committee—7 members

Committee responsibilities:

Quarterly Membership Meeting organization

Organization membership management

Awards voting procedures and management

Organization bylaws management

Organize additional committees as needed.

Events Committee—5 members

Committee responsibilities

Coordinate efforts with the RAMI Committee for producing the Annual Awards show

Organize seminars, guest speakers, coordinate fund-raising opportunities

Marketing Committee—5 members

Committee responsibilities

Manage membership communications

Promote the organization, organization events, and membership/sponsorship drives

Coordinate efforts with the RAMI Committee for producing the Annual Awards show

Awards Committee—5 members

Coordinate efforts with the RAMI committee for producing the Annual Awards show

Advisory Committee (RAMI Committee)—5 members

RAMI Committee will advise and help in the organization of the RAMI Association

2006 RAMI Awards Rules/Procedures

Eligibility for Nomination

All musicians, technicians and musical groups who have performed within a 50-mile radius of Rockford in the year prior to the Awards Ceremony are eligible for nomination to the ballot.

Nominations

Nomination forms will be available online at www.ramiawards.com and at selected locations from Sept. 2 through Dec. 15

Voting

Online voting opens the evening of Jan. 8 and runs through March 5. Online voting rules:

You may vote only once per e-mail address. You must fill out all of the information within the form. Any missing/false information will forfeit your vote. Attempts at stuffing the online ballot will forfeit your vote.

Your information will be kept private and will not be transferred to any other party for any reason.

Once you have voted, you will receive a confirmation e-mail. You must click on the link in the confirmation e-mail to confirm your vote. If you do not click on the link to confirm your vote, your vote will not count. Make sure your information is correct; especially your e-mail address. If you are using spam-blocking software, your confirmation e-mail may not get through. The confirmation e-mail will come from ramiballot@ramiawards.com. You will need to allow this e-mail address access through your spam-blocking software.

Printed ballot rules

Printed ballots will be released at the RAMI meeting on Jan. 26. Select locations will receive ballots after that date.

You must fill out all of the contact information within the form. Any missing/false information will forfeit your vote. Copied ballots will be forfeited.

Your information will be kept private and will not be transferred to any other party for any reason.”

For more information about the RAMIs, visit www.ramiawards.com.

Feedback and ideas on the proposed restructuring of the RAMIs can be contributed to The Rock River Times “Discussion Board” at rockrivertimes.com. All comments will be forwarded to the RAMIs Committee.

Watch for ramisassociation.com, which will be hosted in the near future by beetcafe.com.

Remember the spring benefit March 4 at Verdi Hall. The entertainment line-up will be announced shortly, and get ready for the RAMIs ceremony April 20, at the Tebala Shrine Temple.

Fro

m the Feb. 1-7, 2006, issue

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