Results Summary: Survey on IBMA World of Bluegrass Events - 2011

As many of you know, IBMA conducted a survey in January 2011.  The survey was conducted on-line and was sent to current IBMA members, lapsed members and previous members, as well as to world of bluegrass attendees including Fan Fest, and it was disseminated as broadly as possible to non-members within the bluegrass community.  Many individuals (2,082) took the time to take the survey, and IBMA thanks all those who participated. 

Here’s a link to the actual data compiled from all the survey questions:

What follows here is a preliminary report of key results.  We are continuing to review the results and will provide further updates as more analysis is completed.  We are also working on a second survey which should go out in a month or two.  IBMA wants to know what its members and the broader bluegrass community thinks about the many important issues facing IBMA.  Your responses to the surveys will be used by the IBMA Board and staff as we move forward together to the future and we thank you for participating.

Here is a brief summary of the some of the key findings from our recent survey.*

1.   DEMOGRAPHICS.   First, some demographics: 42.8% of respondents have never been members. The age ranges are dominated by people over 50 (71.8%).

2.  FACTORS AFFECTING WORLD OF BLUEGRASS ATTENDANCE.  When asked about decisions influencing attendance, performing/teaching, direct sales to consumers, and career advancement rated low.  Conversely, enjoying relationships and hearing music rated high. A following question, on satisfaction at the most recent WOB, revealed the same high-rated responses, with the addition of attendance at Fan Fest. Generally, then, the responses to these questions suggest that the strongest reasons for attendance seem to lie in music heard and in personal networking.

3.  AMBIANCE AND SETTING QUESTIONS.  In a series of questions about ambiance and setting, the only high-rated responses had to do with overall cost, and with lodging costs in particular. Hence, cost seems to outweigh the specifics of the venue, although these data are tempered by later responses which suggest that certain venue specifics are indeed important.

4.  DATES FOR WORLD OF BLUEGRASS.  With regard to dates for holding World of Bluegrass: the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas was low-rated, as was Easter; the only high-high rated period was mid-September to early October. Thus, what we are and have been doing all along seems the preference.

5.  SUPPORT FOR TRYING A SHORTER WEEK.  It is noted that respondents did high-rate a willingness to try a shorter week for a year or two.

6.  VENUE TYPES.  Of five possible venue types, only "Indoor -- Hotel/Convention Center" was high-rated.  Here it seems that what we're doing now is preferable.

7.  OUTDOOR OPTIONS.  A series of questions on outdoor locations resulted in only one low-rated response, the open seating area (non-sheltered) option. Almost all of the other options were high-rated. It seems that when respondents are asked to consider outdoor options , they demand and expect a broad range of amenities.

8.  CAMPING.  When a broader range of site and time issues were asked about, interest in camping was rated low. As concerns about factors that might impact WOB attendance, the availability of camping onsite or within an easy walk was low-rated.

Respondents felt strongly about other issues.

9.  SOUND AND SEATING.  They wanted sound, seating and quality at an outdoor setting to be as good as or better than our present site.

10.  INDOOR PREFERRED; KEEPING WOB AND FAN FEST TOGETHER.  The comfort, convenience and freedom from weather problems of an indoor setting were preferred, as was having Fan Fest at the same location as the Business Conference; and weather risks were deemed not worth the benefits of an outdoor setting.

11.  TRANSPORTATION ISSUES.  Also high-rated were transportation issues: not wanting to have to walk more than 3 or 4 blocks or ride a shuttle bus for more than 15 minutes.


In general, then, a preliminary analysis of the survey suggests:

  • There is little interest in camping, and not much enthusiasm for outdoor events.
  • Enthusiasm for tinkering with the timing seems low except for considering a shorter week.
  • The cost of attendance is an overriding issue.


* This report focuses on those answers which suggest highly polarized responses. To do this, it draws upon the "rating averages" for responses to eleven questions.  Rating averages are used to analyze the results of questions that ask for 4 possible responses, ranging from "very negative" to "quite positive" (etc). Points are assigned to each response, from one per "vn" to four per "qp". When added up and divided by the number of answers, these figures yield a "rating average," a number above one and below four.  This report looks at what is suggested by those rating average numbers that are below 2 or above 3 because these indicate strongly negative (low rating average) or strongly positive (high rating average) responses to the IBMA is continuing working to statistically analyze the results of the survey, crunching it in various ways to delve more precisely into the data. This summary is meant to suggest early findings that may help the Board in its preliminary discussions and which are of interest to members and the bluegrass community.