Public nominations open for IBMA Industry Awards

Today, May 1, is the opening day of public nominations for the IBMA’s Industry and Momentum Awards. These are special awards for non-musical contributions by people who work behind the scenes in our business, and for newer artists at the beginning of their journey in bluegrass. There is a particular lack of awareness within the organization, and within the wider bluegrass community, about how people are selected for these nominations.

Both of these award categories are separate from the process used for the International Bluegrass Music Awards, with which many bluegrass fans are familiar. Those main IBMA awards (Album of the Year, Banjo Player of the Year, etc) are chosen by the voting professional members of IBMA. Final nominations for these Industry and Momentum Awards are made via a special committee, and the eventual winners are selected by a second committee chosen from among experienced people in the bluegrass world.

Both the Industry and Momentum Awards are given out as a part of the annual IBMA convention, World of Bluegrass, which takes place at the end of each summer in Raleigh, NC.

The Industry Awards are given in the following categories, crucial to the furtherance of the music:

  • Sound Engineer of the Year
  • Broadcaster of the Year
  • Writer of the Year
  • Event of the Year
  • Graphic Designer of the Year
  • Liner Notes of the Year
  • Songwriter of the Year

Momentum Awards are given in two categories…


    • Band
    • Vocalist
    • Instrumentalist (two instrumentalists are honored each year)


    • Mentor Award
    • Industry Involvement Award

During this public nomination process, any member of the IBMA, or anyone with an interest in the music, can put a name forward for consideration in the Industry or Momentum Awards. If you know of a young band or musician who should be up for a Momentum Award, or a writer or broadcaster that you think should be in the running for an Industry Award, now is the time to step up.

Also very important, and often misunderstood, is that individuals are both welcome and expected to nominate themselves if they feel their work has been exemplary and worthy. Bluegrass artists and industry pros have long been notable for a natural humility, and might feel awkward recommending themselves for this sort of honor, but if you simply wait for someone else to do it, the recognition won’t be given! Who else knows your work as well as you do?

In either case, these submissions for nominations must be made online, using information forms created by the IBMA. Completing them doesn’t take long, but they will request very specific information that a casual fan may not have at their disposal. Thus the suggestion that individuals should nominate themselves, or that other persons be in contact with the potential nominee beforehand to obtain the necessary details.

For example, to suggest someone for Broadcaster of the Year, the form requires an upload of an air check, or brief 3-10 minute MP3 sample of the radio personality taken from their broadcast. Likewise, Graphic Designer needs uploads of representative samples of their work.

When you first view the forms, you won’t see those fields until you select the award in question, but you can do that before entering all the personal information, giving either the individual themselves or a fan/friend/representative a chance to collect it.

The IBMA strongly urges anyone who works or performs in the specified categories to submit their work, regardless of their membership status. If there are a small number of submissions in a given category, the final awards are less truly representative of the industry at large. Have you ever wondered why such-and-such a festival wasn’t considered for Event of the Year, or why so-and-so’s album art wasn’t nominated, it may be as simple as nobody put them forward!

You can see all the information and the form for the Industry Awards here, and the Momentum Awards here, along with all the eligibility requirements.

This public submission period runs from May 1 to May 31. The select committee that meets to make the actual nominations can only choose from the forms submitted. Now’s the 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.