WEEKEND WARRIORS (SA) HOLDEN HILL MUSIC CHAPTER INCORPORATED
Background and Explanatory Notes
Previously there were two separate organisations conducting Warriors music activities. One was Holden Hill Music that ran the Weekend Warriors Program for and on behalf of the Australian Music Association (AMA) under licence. The other was the Warriors Music Association of South Australia Incorporated (known as Warriors SA).
1. The Weekend Warriors Program:
This is the program where you go to a free jam, get put into a band, have four coaching sessions and then perform in a concert with other bands in your Round. The Weekend Warriors Program ends with the concert. The first SA Concert for Round 1 was held on 29 November 2003.
Dom Disisto runs this program in South Australia. He first saw the program in the US. The Australian Music Association (AMA) acquired the rights to the program from the USA’s National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM).
The AMA is the peak body that represents music retailers and manufacturers across Australia.
NAMM is the peak music retailers’ body in the USA. It owns the world-wide rights to the Weekend Warriors Program and has set the criteria for entry by a music retailer as an Authorised Dealer. Holden Hill Music is an Authorised Dealer.
In other Australian States, different retailers sponsor their State’s Weekend Warriors Program. Dom, who is on the AMA committee, is also the National Coordinator for Weekend Warriors for all the States.
2. Warriors SA:
Warriors SA was the organisation that took up from where the Weekend Warriors Program finished. It was established in 2004 as a club for recreational musicians who had been through a Weekend Warriors Program and who wished to keep connected with the program and to continue to perform with like-minded musicians.
It was set up as a separate, independent, incorporated body with Dom and Holden Hill Music’s involvement and donations. Dom convinced participants from some of the early Weekend Warriors Rounds to get involved so it would keep the experience going.
Today, in its present form, the Club continues to support its members and their bands in various ways and arranges a range of gigs and events for them to continue to perform live. Dom and Holden Hill Music continue to be great supporters.
A while ago, the AMA tried to adopt a federated model for the Weekend Warriors Program. It was envisaged that there would be a single, national Weekend Warriors organisation with individual State Chapters. That did not eventuate due to serious political and commercial issues within the industry. As a consequence, the AMA abandoned the original nationalisation program.
Dom was the promoter of the nationalisation of the States into Chapters and sought guidance from South Australia as to the best constitutional structure to adopt. After many long conferences with Dom over this, the then President of Warriors SA, Ron Bellman, redrafted the SA Constitution to accommodate the AMA’s concerns and this was the subject of some Constitutional changes put forward at the 2009 AGM.
After that AGM, there were further concerns about security of the membership database and each sponsor’s enormous investments in the program. This is explained in more detail in a later Section titled “Some Background Issues & Explanations”.
As a consequence, it was back to the drawing board and the President in consultation with Ian Short crafted a revised Constitution that offered Holden Hill Music and any store sponsor greater security so that all may continue to support Warriors SA by working with us in expanding the membership and activities generally.
The revised Constitution was adopted at a Special General Meeting in April 2010. It provided for an amalgamation of the Program and the Club and this was when the new name WEEKEND WARRIORS (SA) HOLDEN HILL MUSIC CHAPTER INCORPORATED was adopted. It was registered on 17 Sept 2010.
As part of the agreement for these Constitutional changes, Dom, Holden Hill Music and the AMA committed to offer significant benefits to Weekend Warriors SA, including a national website, an annual conference each year (funds permitting), the means to attract big names in Australia and internationally to come to Adelaide and undertake clinics for and on behalf of the Association and many other benefits without Weekend Warriors SA having to make any financial commitment in its own right in support of national standing as an association representing Warriors in South Australia.
South Australia is being watched very closely at a national level. It is recognised nationally that the way the Weekend Warriors Program and the Weekend Warriors SA Club operates and the relationship and cooperation between them are the best in Australia. The AMA and music retailers around the country see the South Australian operation as setting the standard or benchmark for the way the program could work in other States in the future. Our Constitution and Rules and our operating methods are seen as best practice models for other programs and for this we should be proud.
As a consequence, South Australia is on the way to becoming the national leader and for Weekend Warriors SA to becoming an associate member of the AMA. It has created the model that other States may copy, thereby strengthening the national profile of Weekend Warriors throughout Australia. Recently the AMA has indicated its agreement with the Constitution and operating model. Victoria has indicated that it will adopt it for their State.
Some Background Issues & Explanations
One of the problems in the past was that the move towards a federation model caused a stalling by many retailers who began to get cold feet. They feared that they might be creating a rod for their own back by putting resources into forming powerful State-based consumer advocacy groups that could negatively impact on their own businesses and this fear was justifiable.
At the same time, individual sponsoring retailers began to have growing concerns about their own customer databases.
Over several years, Weekend Warriors Programs both here and interstate have generated large numbers of potential customers for music-related goods and services.
Sponsoring retailers have invested significant amounts of time, energy and resources in delivering the Program. In SA, Holden Hill Music has also been a generous sponsor of Warriors SA. Our sponsor not only provided equipment at significant discounts to the Association and to its members, it also was instrumental in building its membership by working co-operatively with the Weekend Warriors SA Committee to create an innovative system of “passive membership”. This means that everyone who went through a Weekend Warriors Round automatically became a member of the Club and Holden Hill Music paid for their first year’s membership which the Club provided at a discounted price.
In the commercial world, sponsorship is supposed to be a two-way street, not simply a one-way donation. In return for sponsorship, the recipient provides promotion and marketing opportunities for the sponsor.
However, Holden Hill Music began to feel uncomfortable that all their contributions were in danger of becoming a one-way street because of the loose arrangements with regard to membership databases. Holden Hill Music had been providing its database of Program participants to our Association freely. As those lists continued to grow, HHM realised that there was little or no protection for it with regard to those lists of potential customers that it had so carefully built up at significant cost to itself.
Without suitable protection, sponsoring retailers throughout Australia saw a risk that access to those databases could be provided to their competitors who had not lifted a finger to help local Associations, to the detriment of their own business. In other words, they felt that they should receive the benefit of their own efforts, and not incur various costs in order to benefit their competitors. Accordingly, no other sponsoring retailer provided its participant database. Holden Hill Music adopted the same position because it felt that the relationship that Holden Hill had with the Club was only as good as the relationship Dom had with the current committee which would change from time to time. Therefore, Holden Hill Music placed a hold on this practice and that of introducing new participants to the Association until this problem was resolved. The new Constitution adopted at the SGM 2010 provided that resolution as described in the following Section.
A Way Forward
Throughout the whole Constitutional redrafting exercise, the Committee grappled with the question of what are we trying to achieve and what is the best way of achieving it?
The context is that we are a not-for-profit organisation that relies entirely on the efforts of volunteers. There is insufficient income to employ anyone to carry out any of the jobs that need to be done or to promote the organisation more widely or to develop its membership. Our only sources of income are membership fees and the modest donations from organisations where we perform. The income we receive goes towards operating expenses which are mainly equipment purchases, maintenance and insurance. There appeared to be little prospect of any significant additional income in the foreseeable future if we carried on the way we were going or even if we decided to “go-it-alone” and cut ties with our major sponsor altogether.
The Committee believed that the majority of members simply wanted opportunities to improve their musicianship and to play live music in a range of venues to various audiences. It appeared that most members were not too bothered about the organisational structure that facilitated those opportunities. Indeed, many members neither knew nor cared that Weekend Warriors and Warriors SA were two separate organisations.
Therefore the Committee proposed some changes to the Constitution and Rules of the Association that would:
- Resolve the issues perceived by the sponsoring retailers
- Restore the mutually beneficial relationship between the Weekend Warriors Program, State Associations and sponsors.
- Reduce the administration load on the volunteers that ran the Association.
- Improve and expand opportunities for Association members to further their musical interests and play live music.
The proposal was to conduct both Weekend Warrior Program activities and Warriors SA (Club) activities under a single umbrella brand and organisational structure that would also introduce additional activities and projects for the benefit of members.
The previous Federation and Chapter model that failed was based on geographically based Chapters, i.e under that model, Warriors SA would have become the South Australian Chapter.
The new proposal, instead of having geographically-based chapters, was for each Chapter to be based on its sponsoring retailer.
It meant that the two organisations could continue to conduct the same Weekend Warriors Programs and Warriors SA Club activities as before but under a single banner and brand. It would protect sponsors’ interests and pave the way for associate membership of the AMA with its consequent benefits.
Our sponsor also indicated that it was ready and willing to provide additional activities if its concerns were resolved: e.g. special meet and greets for new members and help to put bands together; various skills building workshops for beginners and improvers; master classes for advanced players; special sessions with celebrity guests; song-writing workshops; live audio and recording workshops; sourcing additional gig opportunities and the possibility of occasional paid help at major gigs.