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Opinion

IBMA in Need of New Ethics & Conflict of Interest Policies

Code of EthicsThe International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) has a long history of leadership problems. In virtually every case, the underlying issue was "transparency" or, the lack there of. The lack of transparency was caused by two factors. Communications were non-existent, late or self-denial and, a lost trust in the leadership as a result. If one goes back through the years of emails and other communications, there is always a common thread and, for the past 12+ years, a common individual in the mix as well.

IBMA Desires Change for the Future...

Change and DirectionFor as long as I was a member of IBMA and for the many years since, people have always been asking for change. They want a change. The board needs to change. This or that needs to change. Change. Change. Change. What is it they want changed? What direction do they want association to go in? What is it they want? These questions are rarely asked and, when I ask members, I receive as many different opinions as I do people I ask. There doesn't seem to be any consensus.

Thoughts & Observations of the IBMA Board

Board of DirectorsFirst of all, this is an opinion piece -- not a news story. I've been reading comments through social media, the web, emails sent to me and comments on Cybergrass. There are certainly a lot of upset people and a lot of frustrated people. There are also many members that don't know what their own association is doing. Only a small percentage of members are really active in the IBMA. As one member said, "What is going on? I am a voting member, but do not know anything about the board." Another said, "Apathy is strong within the IBMA." Others have voiced similar thoughts. This indicates many card carrying members just carry the card. IBMA has never been an association to do something for you. It is an organization that members contribute to. For the decade that I was a member, I contributed constantly for various programs, regional rep program, created their first web site, worked on several Bluegrass in the Schools activities, spoke on sessions, mentored others and more. My hands were always involved in something the association was working towards. That is the true nature of IBMA. It really hasn't changed over the years.

IBMA Board Hemorrhaging Continues with Three More Resignations

IBMAThree more board members of the International Bluegrass Music Association have tendered their resignations. Brian Smith, Henri Deschamps and Elizabeth Wightman joined others who have earlier submitted letters of resignation including Executive Director Nancy Cardwell, Craig Ferguson and Dwight Worden. Board Chairman Jon Weisberger had also offered to resign however the recent board vote was to not accept that resignation.

Too Late Press Releases are Becoming Common

 YesterdayI don't know if this is a new trend in promotion and publicity or not but, in the past couple of months, I've received over a dozen press releases for events occurring in just a few hours. In one case, the event was a three day event that began two days earlier. I can't believe that just in the past couple of months that nobody knows their client artists are going to be on television until five minutes before showtime. I can't believe nobody knows their client artist will be performing at a festival until they have already been on stage and are already headed for their next gig. This, however, seems to be the latest fad in PR.

Open Letter to the IBMA Board of Directors

Bob CherryThe bluegrass world is still in shock after the recent announcement of the departure of Nancy Cardwell from the IBMA leadership role. The highly respected Cardwell was welcomed as a breath of fresh air into the Executive Director position and she served the role in a way greatly appreciated by many. Everybody was looking for a new, fresh and exciting IBMA and Nancy delivered. Raleigh and all the excitement is proof of that. Then, this turn of events during the recent World of Bluegrass, which resulted in her resignation happened. As time is passing, little bits of additional information are coming out regarding what happened to cause this abrupt and unfortunate change. One thing abundantly clear from the email lists and social media sites is that few can comprehend the reason for this sudden decision. Those behind it, are not talking. I would like to make some observations from the official IBMA press release on the IBMA leadership change...

Who is in Charge of Your Band's PR?

No U-TurnWe have a band, also referred to as the artist, their management, the record label and the press/media agent and maybe some others. All send Public Relations (PR) and promotional material to various organizations for publication or broadcast. It is great to have all these people working to promote the artist. But, what happens if they get out of sync? What happens if they don't communicate with each other? What happens when it all goes wrong?

Which Way Did They Go? Bluegrass at the Crossroads

James ReamsBy Guest Columnist James Reams
It’s hard to watch the Country Music Awards and not wonder why the IBMA Awards are largely ignored by the music industry. What has country got that we haven’t? Our songs feature longing, lost love, hard work, history, and yes, even crying in your beer. Our musicians are just as talented, perhaps more so as I think of the lightning speed associated with fiddle, mandolin and banjo picking. I dare any country band to keep up with us! Our voices pitch into that high lonesome sound made popular by Bill Monroe, but that’s not all we can do. Bluegrass music is just as well rounded as country. So why aren’t we as popular?

Why Not Promote from Within?

Lee and WillowThis year, the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) has selected Lee Ann Womack and Jerry Douglas to host their annual Bluegrass Music Awards Show. The Bluegrass Awards Show is the grand finale of the annual convention, World of Bluegrass. The Awards show is attended by bluegrass artists, professionals, and yes, fans. This year, the IBMA again has selected a host from outside the Bluegrass community. As in years past when they have done this, bluegrassers always ask the question: "Why?" Why don't we promote our own artists for this event?

What is the Future of Broadcast Radio?

Listening to Old Time RadioI'm a lot like the many of the electronic generation today -- load up the MP3 player, CD Changer, and the Media Server and let MY music play MY way -- without any commercials and annoying talk. I also use the streaming services that abound everywhere like Pandora, Spotify Google's and Apple's editions and more. I also just tune into Internet sites that have what I enjoy. Lots of options to choose from.

Music Sales Down: What's the Plan? Is There a Plan?

trashed CDsMusic sales dropped 14% according to a recent Nielsen Report. This drop includes both physical and digital sales of songs and albums. Even iTunes dropped by more than 10% according to the report. The big hit was CD sales dropping by nearly 20%. Who then survived? Streaming and the LP came out on top. In the first six months, streaming was up a clear 50% followed by LP sales up 40%.

Does Your Website Turn Away Customers?

Web ErrorToday's Internet capable devices come in a wide variety of colors, sizes, shapes, operating systems, ... Unfortunately, more and more websites are only supporting a subset of what is available. There are probably dozens of different browsers out there but, if you're not using one of the primary three, many sites just don't work. Some still use the old paradigm of telling the customer to use a different browser that the site supports. I visited a site to order an album for my wife. After going through the entire ordering process, the button to finalize the deal didn't work. I could click on it until the world ends but it was unresponsive. So, I couldn't do business there. I was forced to find another vendor site and order the album from them instead.

Cover Art - The Image for the Music

Album CoversI've been buying 78s, 45s, cassettes, LPs, Open Reel and CD albums for nearly a half century. I've also purchased video in LaserDisc, Beta, VHS, DVD and BlueRay formats. Most of those purchases are still in my library. The genres span from heavy European rock to modern bluegrass and roots music. There is one thing that they all share in common, regardless of the media format, and that is they all have cover art. Big, little, wide or folded, cover art is the first thing people see when they purchase an album. Today, graphics tools and art add a whole new dimension to this creative aspect of the music.

If Nobody's Listening, Is the Grass Still Blue?

James ReamsBy Special Guest Contributor, Bluegrass recording artist James Reams
There's a raging debate going on in the world of bluegrass between traditionalists and futurists. But bluegrass isn’t going to make a sound if nobody’s listening a generation from now.

Why I Don't Turn On the Radio Anymore

No PC RadioThis so-called "Modern Sensitivity," "Political Correctness," or, more accurately, Censorship is one of the reasons I never turn on a radio anymore. I haven't for years. My family also got rid of TV and its propaganda, high-volume ads and junk programming about ten years ago. I politely listen to the music I want to hear from my own collection of music. Thare are No commercials and No politically correct modern sensitivity censorship in my music. I am free to listen to any music I desire and, I do so in absolute freedom. From "Smoke, Smoke, Smoke that Cigarette" by Commander Cody & His Lost Planets Airmen to David Allen Coe's "Rodeo Song" to a whole lot of bluegrass about killing, moonshine, whiskey and more including "Copper Kettle" about joys brewing 'shine.

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