From The Side of the Road… World of Bluegrass seminars for today’s realities

The IBMA World of Bluegrass in Raleigh, NC is fast approaching, and by all indications this is going to be a huge and exciting event this year. For some, it will be their first in-person attendance since 2019, which sometimes feels like it was last year and other times like a lifetime ago.

To make the conference part of this event extra-special and extra-educational, it looks like the IBMA has dug deep for some unique seminar topics. Here are a few that I was particularly drawn to:

“Oh you’re definitely recording my song” – Pitching Through Intimidation (Songwriter Track): How to master the aggressive approach to pitching your songs to artists, applying all available methods, from plain dogged persistence to coming just shy of violating stalking and blackmail laws to get your songs recorded by even the most famous bluegrass artists. To keep this on the level, someone from Raleigh law enforcement will be on hand to vouch for the legality of all methods used.

D.J. Pappy Watkins — Acquiring an on-air D.J. name (Broadcaster Track): From “Letitia The Spinning Queen of Hincheyville” to “J.J. Peabody, the Overnight Magician of the Microphone,” learn how to take your on-air name and persona to the next level and beyond.

Owning Facebook (not literally, that would require 800 billion dollars and a hostile takeover): Experts on this social medium explain the intricacies of Facebook’s latest changes and what they mean to your bluegrass band or business, then advise you to ignore them all and just post cat and food pictures and get into political arguments with cranky old people, the platform’s true purpose.

“Do I write a check for $3.75 or would PayPal be okay?” Investment Strategies in the Era of Streaming: A panel of financial experts, streaming service representatives, and broke bluegrass musicians lead this highly informative panel about how to invest tiny sums of money from streaming royalties in today’s volatile market.

Going Virtual – Lessons From the COVID Era: From band meetings to music workshops to bluegrass festivals, the pandemic taught us all to accomplish more in our career virtually. Before people get complacent again and just expect people to show up in person, this panel will discuss ways to keep your career thriving while never going further than the kitchen, and while only occasionally wearing pants (this seminar is zoom only).

“This is ‘Denise from Roanoke'” – Organizing fake request campaigns for your music: This seminar will discuss the latest techniques for organizing bogus appeals to radio stations that are actually believable. How to disguise your voice and make frequent phone calls, pretending to be a whole legion of your own fans, and how to space those calls just far enough apart to make them seem authentic to the untrained ear. The panel will feature recording artists with no real fans themselves and radio programmers who have actually been fooled by “the old disguise-your-voice-use-a-fake-name-and-call-once-an-hour trick.”

The IBMA WOB has long had various “tracks,” like the “Songwriter Track” and “Broadcaster Track” mentioned above. It’s a great way to plan your conference and have it tailored to your particular branch of the business. I was thrilled to see the long overdue addition this year of the “Blowhard Track.” This is the track designed for people who primarily attend the IBMA World of Bluegrass and other bluegrass events to talk other people’s ears off. They’ll be able to attend informative seminars on how to speak for 45 minutes straight in one long, unbroken sentence, how to spot when someone nervously looks at his or her watch—indicating they’re late for an important appointment—and ignore those signs, how to say “I’ll make this quick,” and not mean it at all, how to become an accomplished name-dropper, and more. Much more.

See you in Raleigh!