The IBMA Board Announces Changes to Awards Structure

IBMA Awards Handbook 2019


Dear IBMA Members:

This past December, the IBMA’s Board of Directors formed a task force to complete a full review of the association’s awards structure. It was the first such review conducted in several years. The task force was charged with carefully analyzing the relevance, description, criteria, and selection process for each award. The task force concluded its work in March and the board subsequently voted to adopt their recommendations in the accompanying Awards Handbook: Criteria and Process 2019.

I deeply appreciate the many hours of analysis, solicitation of feedback from others, and meetings the Awards Task Force put into this extensive effort. The IBMA is a member-based association, and it was gratifying to see members set aside time from their busy schedules to make this thorough review a high priority.

Highlights of the Changes

While no major overhaul of the awards process was recommended or adopted, several changes were approved in each of the three awards classifications. The Hall of Fame and Distinguished Achievement Award processes were not included in the scope of the task force’s efforts. Listed below are the most significant changes. We encourage each of you to familiarize yourselves with the details contained in the Handbook since the guidelines are in force beginning with this year’s election process.

A. MUSIC AWARDS (awarded during the International Bluegrass Music Awards Show)

  1. The second round awards ballot, in which every professional member votes, will now include the 20 highest-voted write-in candidates from the first ballot. Previously, anyone receiving 10 or more votes in round one appeared in the second round ballot.
  2. Several award names have been adjusted, along with their descriptions:
    1. New Artist of the Year replaces Emerging Artist of the Year to recognize new artists who have, for the first time in their careers, demonstrated an impact on bluegrass audiences worldwide.
    2. Resophonic Guitar Player of the Year replaces Dobro Player of the Year to reflect the generic name of the instrument rather than any brand name such as “Dobro”.
    3. Three award names have been changed to more clearly define that the award recognizes any recording meeting the criteria for eligibility rather than a “performance” or “event” which may have been misconstrued as only including the recording of a live performance.
      1. Instrumental Recording of the Year replaces Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year.
      2. Gospel Recording of the Year replaces Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year.
      3. Collaborative Recording of the Year replaces Recorded Event of the Year.

B. INDUSTRY AWARDS (replaces the name “Special Awards” – awarded during the IBMA Business Conference). The following highlights changes made to the individual Industry Awards:

  1. Songwriter of the Year (formerly Bluegrass Songwriter of the Year)
  2. Writer of the Year (formerly Print Media Person of the Year) – now includes both print and online publications.
  3. Broadcaster of the Year (formerly Bluegrass Broadcaster of the Year) – now includes radio, television, podcasts, internet/web, and other forms.
  4. Graphic Designer of the Year (formerly Graphic Design of the Year) – now recognizes a person with outstanding work on album artwork, promotional materials, logos, websites, social media, etc. The recipient will now be judged on at least three samples rather than one.
  5. Event of the Year (formerly Bluegrass Event of the Year – now clarifies that it may be festivals, concerts, an event series, and other live performance productions.
  6. Liner Notes of the Year – now may include notes for CDs, vinyl, box sets, digital releases, etc.
  7. Sound Engineer of the Year – submission of a recording is now optional rather than required.

C. MOMENTUM AWARDS (awarded during the IBMA Business Conference)

  1. The previously specified age restrictions have been removed. These awards are now described as being given to artists and industry professionals who are in the early years of their careers, are new to bluegrass, and have been active during the eligibility period. An award continues to be presented to a mentor for his or her positive influence on new artists and industry professionals.
  2. The Momentum Award for Event of the Year has been discontinued due to the unreliable number of eligible candidates every year. Events previously eligible for this Momentum Award are eligible for the Industry Awards Event of the Year.
  3. The Momentum Awards Instrumentalists of the Year will now be awarded to two individuals instead of three.

As stated earlier, I have only listed the most significant approved changes. I strongly urge each member to read through the Awards Handbook to become familiar with the entire awards process, including any changes made.


Paul Schiminger

Executive Director


IBMA Awards Handbook 2019

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