The IBMA’s Industry Awards categories are designed to recognize outstanding achievements during the eligibility period across a broad range of the bluegrass music industry. In all categories, recipients demonstrate contributions to the field of endeavor, professionalism, work in their community, and ability to foster bluegrass music’s image.
Broadcaster of the Year
This award recognizes a broadcaster (radio, television, podcasts, internet/web, and other forms) for their outstanding contributions and service to bluegrass music. Candidates must have been active and their accomplishments evident within the eligibility period. Broadcasters will be judged by their ability to communicate and connect with their audience; ability to present bluegrass music with a sense of contemporary and/or historical context; work to inform and engage their listeners, viewers, and/or subscribers; and overall professional, technical, and musical quality of programming.
Writer of the Year
This award recognizes a writer for print media and/or online publication who has shown outstanding contributions to bluegrass music. Candidates must have been active and their accomplishments evident within the eligibility period. Writers will be judged by their writing quality and command of language; ability to contextualize bluegrass music’s past and present; quality and/or quantity; and success in educating and engaging the public about bluegrass music through the written word.
Event of the Year
This award recognizes events (festivals, concerts, event series, virtual events, or other live performance productions) for their outstanding accomplishment and service to bluegrass music in the field of event production. The event must have taken place and its accomplishments evident within the eligibility period. The event will be judged by its ability to further bluegrass music in its region or area of service; production quality in terms of presentation and organization; environment; and overall audience experience.
Graphic Designer of the Year
This award recognizes a graphic designer for outstanding work in the creation of physical and/or digital graphics (album artwork, promotional materials, logos, websites, social media, etc.). Candidates must have been active and their accomplishments evident within the eligibility period. Graphic designers will be judged by their technical design abilities; artistry and aesthetics; success in branding artists, organizations, physical and digital products, events, etc.; and presenting bluegrass music to the public through quality graphic design.
Liner Notes of the Year
This award recognizes outstanding work in the creation of liner notes for recorded bluegrass album projects (CDs, vinyl, box sets, digital releases, etc.). Liner notes must accompany a project newly released during the eligibility period. The album itself may be comprised of either new or previously-released music (compilations, retrospective collections, etc.). Liner notes will be judged by their ability to enhance the message of the recorded work; overall writing quality and professionalism; and ability to educate the public about bluegrass music and its recording artists.
Songwriter of the Year
This award recognizes a songwriter who has shown outstanding contributions to bluegrass music during the eligibility period. Candidates are considered for their own original work and not arrangements of previous work attributed to others or songs in the public domain. Songwriters will be judged by their originality, creativity, and ability to express ideas through song; public reach quantified through sales, broadcast, and chart activity; quality and/or quantity; and impact on bluegrass music with songs that resonate with artists and listeners.
Sound Engineer of the Year
This award recognizes a sound engineer (recording engineer, mixing engineer, mastering engineer, or live sound engineer) for outstanding work and service to bluegrass music. Candidates must have been active on projects newly released or for live sound work performed during the eligibility period. Sound engineers will be judged by their technical expertise; sonic artistry and aesthetics; success in capturing and presenting recorded and/or live bluegrass music; and ability to create the best possible representation of bluegrass music audio for the public.
Nominees for the Industry Awards are selected by the Industry Awards Selection Committee from a list of nominees. This committee is appointed by the IBMA board chairperson. The five committee members are IBMA professional members who have at least ten years’ experience in bluegrass music and have significant knowledge of the history of the music.
The committee actively seeks out potential honorees in addition to soliciting candidates through a public nomination application. They compile a list of of potential candidates from these recommendations, and from recommendations by the selection committee members.
The committee convenes in a timely way to review all candidates (usually in June or July). By majority vote, they select the final five nominees per category.
Those nominees are sent via ballot to the Panel of Electors. This panel – over 200 of the most respected names in the bluegrass music industry – then votes to determine the single recipient for each of the Industry Awards.