The Colorado Music Association ("COMA") began as a project by Dolly Zander to invigorate the Colorado music scene. While the group is still registered with the State of Colorado as the Colorado Music Association, in 2008 the board decided to add a "doing business as" name of Colorado Music Business Organization which not only fit the website of coloradomusic.org but its acronym could then become "COMBO" which the board better fit the goals and timeliness of the organization.
In January of 1999 Dolly Zander called together a meeting of many important and influential people in the regional music community to form an advisory commitee to the Rocky Mountain Music Association (RMMA). Attending the meeting were such notables as Mark Bliesener (The Band Guru), Dick Weissman (Then head of the the Music Business program at the University of Colorado, Denver), Paul Epstein (Twist and Shout Records), Rob Gordon (What Are Records?) Frank Schultz (The Soiled Dove), Allan Roth (Herman's Hideaway), Matt Need (Then booking the Gothic Theater), Sharon Rawles (Then Manager at Herman's Hideaway) (d. 2008), Dawn Greaney (also of Twist and Shout), Tommy Nahulu (Founder of LMNOP Colorado), David Barber (Commotion Music Promotion, inc) and others. This group began meeting each month at the original Soiled Dove, inviting new people to attend and brainstorming what could be done to improve the Colorado music scene. Eventually they agreed on the following goals:
Build a website with useful information and links to everything we could find in the Colorado music community.
1. Have monthly meetings with informative presentations which would be beneficial and educational to musicians and music industry professionals. Since we couldn't work together if we didn't know each other, the meetings would also provide valuable networking opportunities for musicians and others.
2. Create a printed Directory of everything to do with music in the state of Colorado and distribute it to our members and make sure copies were provided to booking agents and other influential persons within the state of Colorado as well as important music industry insiders throughout the country.
3. Prepare an economic impact statement showing the amount of money the music industry generates in the state of Colorado and present this to local and state governments in an effort to increase exposure, funding and support for music within those agencies.
The RMMA was not prepared to pursue these goals, so in July 1999 The Colorado Music Association (COMA) was created. (RMMA has since ceased operations)
Dolly Zander presided over the organization for the first two years. In that time COMA grew from an infomal gathering of people who wanted to improve the scene into a non-profit corporation with hundreds of members. This website was created. COMA obtained a block of barcodes and began offering them to members for free. Member companies and others began offering COMA members discounts on their goods and services. A logo was designed. Membership cards, banners and business cards were printed. Alliances were created with Colorado Lawyers for the Arts, The Colorado Blues Society, The Colorado Bluegrass Music Society The Colorado Hip Hop Coalition, NSAI, Swallow Hill, and the Denver Musician's Association. COMA began operating beer booths at various local music festivals in exchange for donations from the festival promoters.
Eventually, Dolly Zander decided to step down at the end of two productive years.
In the third year David Barber took over as President. He transformed COMA from an organization run mostly by one exceptional individual, into one that would operate based on the collective work of the entire Board of Directors. During this year, COMA obtained an office at 8 East 1st Ave. (Above the Hornet), a phone line, internet access, a computer, office supplies and furniture (mostly donated by COMA members). During this year COMA developed a mission statement (The Colorado Music Industry's Networking, Education and Support Resource) and obtained formal tax exempt status from the IRS.
A highlight during the third year was the Music Lowdown. Produced in cooperation with Westword and UCD, the Lowdown offered up two days of seminars, presentations, and showcases to COMA members, students and others from music industry insiders flown in from both coasts as well as local experts on the same weekend as the annual Westword Music Showcase.
In the fourth year, Tommy Nahulu served as President of COMA. During this year COMA worked hard at getting its own procedures and operational principles in order. The group Colorado Women In Music (CWIM) challenged COMA to address how committees work. Early in 2003 COMA began moving their regular monthly meetings around to various venues other than the Soiled Dove. This was in response to a high number of COMA member requests. One highlight of the year was having Barry Fey speak at the September 2002 COMA meeting.
Under the leadership of President Russ Green, COMA entered it's fifth year in good shape. During this year COMA re-evaluated some of it's goals, placing aside the Directory project in favor of building a higher profile. They changed the acronym from COMA to CMA. The Annual Holiday Party became a more formal event and invitations were extended to many politcal and music industry notables. COMA also developed a better relationship with NIPP and was able to bring them on as a sponsor for the first annual Rockers For Kids benefit concert.
After serving one year, Russ handed the presidency over to Guy Errickson who served for two years. During this time, the board voted to go back to the acronym of COMA since the Country Music Association was also going by CMA. It was during the end of Guy's second year of office that the organization found a new office located at 1490 Lafayette Street, Denver (Suite 104-B) where the COMBO office is still located.
Nick Baker took over as president in January 2005 but resigned after 5 months due to the opportunity to take a new job in Nashville came up. After a quick board meeting on July 5th, the board appointed Barb Dye as president to serve out Nick's term. New officers were to be elected in January of each year per a board change to the By-Laws. Barb has since remained in office by election and continues to serve as of April 2009.
During Barb's tenure, the board has grown to 8 members, has purchased a completely new computer system, added an updated Access software program, gained a new logo (contest design won by Paul Klinger, Sr.), printed new brochures, business cards, and membership cards, purchased much needed accessories such as a dolly for transporting display items to various shows, festivals, and events, as well as portable tables for such events if needed, and new banners sporting the new COMBO logo and colors. A nice-sized donation made to the organization by Broadcasters Music, Inc., ("BMI") helped to purchase these items. Barb also made a deal with the Vans Warped Tour to assist them with their festival here whereupon they donate back to COMBO to help with the expenses of running the organization.