For your consideration:
I might as well warn you that I’ll be opening all correspondence this way for the next two weeks. It has a little more zip to it than “To Whom it May Concern,” anyway. I’m also going to start all conversations this way.
Yes, it’s IBMA Awards voting season again. For those who are annoyed by artists, labels, publicists, proud grandmothers, etc. soliciting for votes, I’ll give you this annual reminder that the first round ballot is write-in only, and not everyone peruses the full eligibility list. Some just put down the first few names that come to mind, mistakenly thinking there’s a prize for being the first person to get a ballot in (those prizes were eliminated in 2002, due to the worldwide pony shortage). It’s useful, therefore, for bluegrass artists to give people a heads-up about what categories they’re eligible in. Once the second ballot is out, this kind of virtual tap on the shoulder (in some cases, virtual shoulder and neck massage) isn’t as necessary.
It should be noted that this year only the top 20 vote-getters in the first round get through to the second round, as opposed to anyone reaching the threshold of 10 votes automatically moving on, as it was in previous years. This may lead to even more “for your consideration” posts and emails. They may be a little irritating to some, some are less subtle than others, but the fact remains that no one’s reminders to vote do any of us any harm. They’re not divisive political posts, they’re not porn spam (well, a few have have seemed a little close to that), and they’re not an announcement that you have $1.2 million waiting for you in a West African Bank because of the untimely death of Prince Mullafdah Goins.
And I would be saying this even if I hadn’t posted my own awards reminder yesterday.
It also should be pointed out, reluctant though I am to do it, that turnout is still pretty low in these contests. As I think I said once before, think Wyoming Green Party primary (midterm) and you’ll get an idea of the numbers involved. That’s why there are ties in the nominations in various categories, or even ties in the final round. A few votes here and there make a difference. Ours is a small but cute music community.
For those who poo-poo the whole idea of awards (and I believe that’s the first time I’ve written “poo-poo” in one of these columns), dismissing them as nothing more than a popularity contest, I respond with the question: are there any awards voted on by general membership that aren’t a popularity contest? I don’t think there’s anyone (besides the occasional winner) who believes that music awards of any kind are objective measurements of an artist’s or recording’s quality or artistic value. They’re simply a measurement of what is the most popular in any given year among those who choose to vote.
There have been a few changes made in the awards process this year that are worth discussing. They were announced recently by the IBMA and covered here in Bluegrass Today. They included the addition of a “Drummer of the Year” award, which I know was an April Fool’s joke, but I’m restating it here just because the discussion of it was so fun (“Tell me this is a joke!!!!!!”) and I’m hoping to revive it.
Those who didn’t read about any of those changes are almost always the same people who don’t read the eligibility list, either, so that works out well. For everyone else, we’ll take up those changes next week. After you’ve already voted.