Here we go… 2020 Virtual World of Bluegrass starts today

Ready or not… here we go! The International Bluegrass Music Association staff and volunteers have been working double overtime this past few weeks, putting together the finishing touches on their first online, all virtual World of Bluegrass celebration.

As we have mentioned before, the annual convention, along with the IBMA Bluegrass Awards, and the big weekend music festival, IBMA Bluegrass Live!, have been held of late in Raleigh, NC, but as the Governor of the state had not cleared the return of large gatherings, the organization was forced to either cancel, or go virtual. And we see what they chose.

So the IBMA had to figure out and learn to implement a new software interface, called Swapcard, created especially for online integration of virtual conferencing. This Swapcard interface will be the home base for all World of Bluegrass week events.

You may have seen our earlier reporting that many aspects of the conference will be available free to all online, but there is this important caveat. Even though access is available at no charge, you will still need to register through Swapcard for the free Music Pass. This will gain you admission to all of the Bluegrass Ramble showcase performances during the week, plus the three awards presentations.

In order to view and attend the virtual seminar sessions, invited speakers, keynote address, artist-to-artists meetings, constituency meetings and the like, you will need to be fully registered for the conference. IBMA is offering a steeply discounted price for this registration, only $99 for IBMA members, and $149 for non-members.

Registration for either the free Music Pass or full WOB registration can be quickly completed online.

Things kick off this morning (September 28) at 11:20 a.m. (EDT) with the welcoming Keynote Address from Sarah Jarosz. This will be followed by a number of informative sessions, including the ever popular Gig Fair where artists can connect directly with event producers and show bookers for major bluegrass festivals and concerts series.

Then at 8:00 p.m., Bluegrass Ramble showcases begin, with the opportunity to check out fast rising new bands as well as established acts performing in pre-recorded, live sets from various stages and locations around the world. Don’t forget that you need the free Music Pass registration to catch these sets.

It is our understanding that some aspects of the conference will be available for viewing after the fact as well. As soon as we receive clarification from the IBMA about this question, we will update this article with details.

We will offer some coverage of the elements of the World of Bluegrass not open to all, as well as the Momentum Awards, the Industry Awards, and the IBMA Bluegrass Awards here at Bluegrass Today. Like all regular attendees, we will miss the camaraderie, the craziness, the late night jamming, and the live music everywhere at the physical conference in Raleigh, and look forward to seeing everyone in person again next year.

Bluegrass Today will be involved in a couple of seminar presentations this week. On Tuesday (September 29) I will serve on a panel with Bill Evans, Kimberly Williams, and Jeri Goldstein called What A Way To Make A Living: Turning Transitions Into A Career Strategy. We will discuss the many ways one can be involved in the music industry other than as a performer, and how we can all use the various experience we collect working in the business to create a career for ourselves. It begins at noon.

Then on Wednesday (9/30), Terry Herd will be take part in a panel discussion on Bluegrass Charts: Behind The Scenes, along with Daniel Mullins, Lee Demsey, and Rick Francis. This one also begins at noon, and will cover the importance of the charts we see in our industry, how they work, and how you can use chart position to your advantage.

Happy World of Bluegrass everyone – and don’t forget to donate what you can to support the IBMA through this difficult time!

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.