FCMA calls it quits

I just received word through the grapevine that the FCMA, or the Faith Centered Music Association, has decided to take a break after 11 years of organizing shows, music education seminars, and the Pearl Awards.

From the email that was sent out on their email list, it seems that many factors contributed to their quitting. Every awards ceremony is not without criticism, but the Pearl Awards seemed to get it heavily. The FCMA tried its best to accomodate their criticism, even considering the inclusion of artists who were not LDS but had an “LDS world view.” It seems they just tried to please too many people at once, with a small, overworked staff. It’s an unfortunate thing, but it’s not without a silver lining.

The criticisms levelled at the FCMA and the Pearl Awards in particular were not entirely without merit. Many people, including one person who, a while back, humorously defaced the Wikipedia page for “Mormon Music” (I wasn’t me or anyone else I know, I swear), have accused the Pearl Awards of just being a way for Deseret Book marketing executives to pat themselves on the back. Furthermore, if the “best of LDS music” isn’t very good, it kind of ruins the credibility of an awards show honoring them.

But it’s a bummer still the same. There were a lot of good people involved with the FCMA and the Pearl Awards, and now and then a good song and a talented artist did creep out from in there. However, I have faith that good will come out of this. We still have a lot of good LDS musicians out there. I think perhaps we just need to expand what “LDS music” is. I believe there is a Mormon Renaissance out there, waiting to happen, and Linescratchers is full of musicians who are ready for it.

We just need to “Raise the Bar” for our musicians in order to maintain any credibility in the matter, meaning we must expect great things from them.  I believe that The Beatles proved to the whole world that art could be combined with popular music and still be marketable.  The Mormon music world has not yet seen its Beatles.  For that matter, it hasn’t even seen its Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Yes, or Beach Boys.  Perhaps one day soon.  Thanks for trusting Linescratchers for the best in LDS musicians around the world.

Syphax

PS. Here is a copy of the letter sent out on the FCMA email list:

May 3, 2010

Dear FCMA Members & Friends:

As all of you are no doubt aware, the Association has gone through a period of reinvention and experimentation over the past several years in response to the feedback received during our first 7 or 8 years of operation.

Those early years were based on our founding strategic plan – which had a specific, three-fold mission:

1) give awards to recognize and inspire the state of our art;

2) use the awards as a premier, high profile event to draw attention to our community; and

3) provide an educational component.

From the beginning we have received a steady stream of feedback from members and industry associates alike. Many have voiced enthusiasm and support for the Association’s activities, and many have expressed concerns and criticisms. In an effort to draw our community together and create a place for everyone who has wanted to be part of the FCMA, we have consistently reached out to representatives from all areas of the industry – including some of our most ardent critics. Over the years we have implemented nearly every suggestion –expanding the award categories, reaching out to secular artists with an LDS “world view,” providing networking, service, and mentoring opportunities, and much more.

At the height of these efforts our membership swelled to more than 500 and we were not only presenting the Pearl Awards each year but also a concert series, quarterly service events, twice-yearly educational workshops, and smaller ad-hoc activities suggested by our members. With no paid staff and a severely overextended board of 6-8 people, the administrative requirements became overwhelming and then impossible.

The more we worked to accommodate both our members and our critics, the more we strayed from our original charter – and the less human and financial resources we had to accomplish it.

As a result, we began a process of simplification several years ago as we grappled to reinvent ourselves in a way that could serve the feedback and our original mission. We know it has been difficult and at times confusing for our members to follow the gyrations. For that we are sorry.

After eleven years and hundreds of thousands of man hours and dollars, most of which has had to be provided by a very small group of individuals, it is time for the Faith Centered Music Association to take a breather. It has been a great ride for a great purpose. And it has had its ups and downs, of course, but we recognize and celebrate all that has been accomplished since we gave out the first Pearl Awards back in 1998.

If and when the time comes to rejuvenate, we look forward to gathering all who wish together again. Until then, thank you so much for your support over the years. We hope you have enjoyed the highlights as much as we have.

Onward and upward,

Your friends at the Faith Centered Music Association

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About Syphax

Syphax was a king of the ancient Libyan tribe Masaesyli of western Numidia during the last quarter of the third century BCE. He is also the founder of Linescratchers, a doctoral student in clinical psychology, and a singer-songwriter himself.

4 Thoughts on “FCMA calls it quits

  1. .

    It needs to be crowdsourced. I think most of us thought the Whitney Awards would make all the same mistakes the Pearls made, but not so. It’s not just Covenant books winning awards — not even close. This year’s winner was self-published.

    I think music deserves something similar and using the Whitneys as a model would be a good start.

  2. Th.- I know nothing about the Whitneys. Is it an award for LDS-themed writing, or is it just Latter-day Saints who write?

  3. I was just about to write the same thing that Th. did. The Whitneys have a great model for this type of award.

  4. Allan Bird on February 20, 2011 at 4:31 pm said:

    The larger problem for FCMA was that, in trying to respond to critics, they lost sight of their mission and control of their operations. Rather than shut down, it would have been better for them to take a step back, scale back operations and stop doing that was not directly supportive of their mission. Simultaneously, they needed to reach out to a larger audience/market likely to have an interest in their products. I, and many people I know, are outside of Utah and found it hard to keep abreast of what FCMA was up to.

    There is undoubtedly a lesson in this experience about being all things to all people.

    I’m sorry to see FCMA go

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