The first meeting of the Retail Sheet Music Dealers Association, as it was then known, was held on April 12, 1976 in St. Louis, Missouri. The purpose of the new organization was, and remains: “To provide a common meeting ground for the interchange of ideas among dealers, to promote ethical standards and policies in dealing with music publishers, and to promote better and more meaningful dealer-publisher relations.”

The charter member companies were:

Brodt Music, Charlotte, NC
Carl Fischer, Inc., Chicago, IL
J.W. Pepper & Son, Inc.
Malecki Music House, Grand Rapids, MI
The Music Mart, Albuquerque, NM
National Music Service, Inc., Anaheim, CA
Paige’s Music, Indianapolis, IN
Sampson Ayers House of Music, Spokane, WA
Schmitt Music Centers, Minneapolis, MN
Sharp and Nichols Music, Oklahoma City, OK
Shattinger Music Co.
Sheet Music Service of Portland (OR)
Southwestern Music Co., Weatherford, OK
Stanton’s Sheet Music, Columbus, OH
Symmes Music, Atlanta, GA
Theodore Frank Sheet Music, New Orleans, LA
Volkwein Bros., Inc., Pittsburgh, PA
Walker Music, Milwaukee, WI
Ward-Brodt Music Co., Madison, WI
Whittle Music Co., Dallas, TX
Wingert-Jones Music, Inc., Kansas City, MO

RPMDA – A Personal History

By Joe Keith, RPMDA President, 1978-79

It’s the winter of 1975, and a group of sheet music dealers meet at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Directors Convention. Led by Merle Jones, Tom Serne, John Walters and Bill Slott, they are determined to form an association to address problems associated with our industry. Invitations are sent to top dealers throughout the country, and in April, 1975, some 30 dealers gather to discuss their needs and concerns. They look for solutions that would make the business stronger and give retailers a voice in the music industry – a voice many felt they did not have.

During those early times, there was conflict between dealers and publishers, but after a few years, strong leadership from dealers and publishers led to a kinder, gentler approach to solving our mutual problems. Happily, both RPMDA dealers and publishers have prospered ever since. Now harmony is the rule rather than the exception. Publisher input is earnestly solicited in all areas, and dealers have a feeling of rapport with nearly every operating music publisher.

RPMDA has had the benefit of clinics and seminars led by the best minds in the industry. A list of the officers and leaders of RPMDA would read a ‘Who’s Who” in the music business. Their expertise has been passed on yearly to us, in private conversation and during group workshops and sessions covering a wealth of subjects – insurance, hiring and firing, reading sessions, financial planning, copyright, banking, office equipment, personnel training, inventory control, marketing and advertising. We’ve been uplifted and motivated, we’ve changed our ways, and we’ve been congratulated for our support of music education.

We’ve rejoiced when a member succeeds, and cried when those we love die. We will miss the great ones like Dorothy Hutchinson and Merle Jones, but the knowledge they imparted lives on in all who knew them.

This group is strong in both quality and numbers, and its strength is felt throughout the music industry. We have seen the effect our organization can have on an issue, and have watched with pride as dealers and publishers who have solicited our advice and support have flourished.

We’ve gone to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Albuquerque, San Antonio, Kansas City, St. Louis, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Miami, New York, Washington, D.C., Toronto, Las Vegas, Dallas, Milwaukee, Orlando, Albuquerque, Vancouver, Nashville, Atlanta and the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Information has been freely shared by all, and even more important, we’ve made friendships that will last a lifetime.

Past Presidents

Ted Frank, 1976-77
Joe Keith, 1978-79
Dorothy Hutchinson, 1980
John Walters, 1981-82
Wendell Harrison, 1983
Frank Fendorf, 1984
Henry Bennick, 1985
Ron Watson, 1986
Lloyd Collins, 1987
Leona Schoen, 1988
Russ Bullis, 1989
Denny Senseney, 1990
Doreen Edens, 1991
Drew Parker, 1992-1993
Ed Walker, 1994-1995
Michael Sagun, 1996-1997
Richard Gore, 1998-1999
Laurie Austin, 2000-2002
Richard Rejino, 2003-2004
Joel Menchey, 2005-2006
Becky Lightfoot, 2007-2008
Lori Supinie, 2009-2010
Gayle Beacock, 2011-2012
Carol Wilbur 2013-2014
Christie Smith 2015-2016
Don Langlie 2017-2018

History of RPMDA Conventions

1976  St. Louis, Missouri
1977  New Orleans, Louisiana
1978  Albuquerque, New Mexico
1979  Kansas City, Missouri
1980  St. Louis, Missouri
1981  Minneapolis, Minnesota
1982  San Antonio, Texas
1983  Anaheim, California
1984  New York, New York
1985  New Orleans, Louisiana
1986  San Francisco, California
1987  Miami, Florida
1988  Indianapolis, Indiana
1989  Washington, DC
1990  Toronto, Ontario, Canada
1991  Las Vegas, Nevada
1992  Dallas, Texas
1993  Milwaukee, Wisconsin
1994  Orlando, Florida
1995  Albuquerque, New Mexico
1996  St. Louis, Missouri
1997  Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
1998  Nashville, Tennessee
1999  Las Vegas, Nevada
2000  Atlanta, Georgia
2001  Denver (Broomfield), Colorado
2002  Cincinnati, Ohio
2003  Dallas, Texas
2004  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
2005  Biloxi, Mississippi
2006  Portland, Oregon
2007  Milwaukee, Wisconsin
2008  Boston, Massachusetts
2009  Salt Lake City, Utah
2010 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
2011 Tampa, Florida
2012 Universal City (Los Angeles), CA
2013 Columbus, OH
2014 Dallas, TX
2015 Las Vegas, NV
2016 St. Louis, MO
2017 Atlanta, GA
2018 Minneapolis, MN
2019 San Diego, CA

See the RPMDA awards