The International Bluegrass Music Association announced the nominees for its’ annual awards yesterday. As usual, there is stark, but no longer surprising, similarity to the nominee lists of years past. Perhaps most troubling was the nomination of two ‘Super Groups’ composed of recognized veteran performers for the Emerging Artist of the Year award. My good friend Joe Lurgio has made a strong case for revision of the IBMA awards process here. This case has been made over and over again without resulting in any change in recent years, so I won’t bother making it again here. What I will do is offer a few additional guidelines for eligibility which could help level the playing field and give new bands and artists a fighting chance for nomination, and incentive to get involved.
Here we go:
For all performance categories (Entertainer/Instrumental Group, etc. and all individual instrumental and vocal categories) Excluding Emerging Artist of the Year
In addition to all existing rules, nominees must have:
Appeared on a full-length recording, released during the eligibility period, as solo artist, leader, co-leader or full-time band member.
Performed at no less than 75 public, ticketed events during the eligibility period.
For Emerging Artist of the Year only:
No regularly performing member of the group may have been nominated more than once for any IBMA performance award or combination of awards. For example, a member nominated for female vocalist of the Year and Banjo Player of the Year in any year(s) would exclude the group from nomination for Emerging Artist.
These changes are just suggestions, but I feel very strongly that they would help open the IBMA awards to the new artists and members that the organization so desperately needs.
I welcome your thoughts.