Attendance figures for the 2008 IBMA World of Bluegrass trade show and Fan Fest have been announced. The big numbers are 19,546 and $4,300,000 – the cumulative daily attendance and the estimated economic impact of the week’s events.
While the move to Nashville from Louisville has generated the four highest attended conventions since the first was held in 1986 in Owensboro, KY, the 2008 numbers do show an attendance decline of nearly 11% from 2007.
This bears out our impression based on both discussions with exhibitors and traffic in the exhibit area this year. Given an uncertain economic climate and then-still high gas prices, I think everyone expected to see a drop for 2008. In truth, I had thought it might have been even steeper.
Our take is that the primary decline was among the non-business and/or part-time professional people – the many folks who typically come to jam, socialize and do a little business as well. The attendance at the official showcases, meals, keynote address and special awards didn’t strike me as off from 2007, nor did the crowds for the late night showcases.
The awards show at the Ryman sold out again, and the only serious complaints we heard came from exhibitors, especially those who depend on the traffic from serious fans and amateur pickers.
Here are the raw numbers as supplied by the IBMA.
Business Conference 2008
- 1729 Unique Attendees (5742 cumulative/4 days)
- 72 Exhibitors
- 19 Showcasing Artists (Avg. Attendance – 700)
- 10 Showcasing Songwriters
- 337 "After Hours" Artist Showcases
- 22 Seminars Attended by 1138
- 151 Mentor Sessions on 33 topics
- 1 Gig Fair (520 appointments for event producers and artists/agents)
- 2 Song Demo Listening Sessions
- 1 Crash Course for New Artists attended by 65
- 1 Crash Course for Songwriters attended by 94
- 1 Leadership Bluegrass "master class" for 38
- 1 General Membership Meeting
- 8 Member Constituency Meetings
IBMA Awards Show
- Attendance ‚Äì 2,225 (sold out)
- Radio Broadcast on 320+ Network Affiliates (live on XM)
- Largest Broadcast of any Bluegrass Special
Fan Fest 2008
- 4,487 Unique Attendees (11,579 cumulative/3 days)
- Performing Artists – 60+ Acts on Three Stages
- 76 Exhibitors
Bluegrass In The Schools Programs
- Accredited Teacher In-Service Training Program for 52
Dan Hays at IBMA told us that Fan Fest income has not yet been fully tabulated and may not be available to the board for another couple of months.