Propose a Conference Session


Please review all information below before submitting a proposal.

COVID-19 Statement: We believe this year’s conference will be more important for our industry than ever, and the IBMA team is working hard (from home, of course!) to produce an event that will be a key part of our industry’s recovery effort. The event remains scheduled for Sept. 29-Oct. 1.  However, we are aware that a return to normal operations remains uncertain. Should we need to move the conference online, selected sessions will be included in a live or pre-recorded format as determined by the IBMA Education Committee in consultation with moderators and speakers. Please keep this in mind as you prepare your proposal.”

Proposal Process

Proposals may be considered for the IBMA Business Conference OR for IBMA Bluegrass Live! (Convention Center educational and workshop sessions, not stage performances). Proposals can be submitted by bluegrass and general music industry professionals.

IBMA Business Conference proposals address current music industry concerns pertaining to one or more of the IBMA’s membership constituencies (see “Target Audience” below), and they often speak to or incorporate some aspect of the current year’s conference theme (see “Tips and Things to Keep in Mind” below). Conference sessions will be 50 minutes and scheduled Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings during the week (see “Tips and Things to Keep in Mind” below). Note that there may be a small number of sessions the Education Committee will want to extend to 75 minutes (the Education Committee and/or IBMA staff will consult with you on any such extension if selected).

Festival proposals are typically fan-oriented and engage audiences in bluegrass history, culture, playing techniques, demonstrations, etc. Festival sessions will be 60-75 minutes (the Education Committee and/or IBMA staff will consult with you on times if selected).

ALL proposals must include the following information:

  • Primary Contact who is organizing the session and serving as moderator. The Primary Contact will work with his/her co-presenters to define and plan the session content, determine audiovisual needs, confirm session details with speakers, etc.
  • Session Information
    1. Format. Conference sessions typically follow one of the following formats:
      • Panel Discussion: 3-4 presenters discuss their (typically different) experiences/perspectives on a topic with one another and the audience. Be sure to reserve enough time for audience participation.
      • Round Table: A series of 4-6 related topical discussions occurring simultaneously, often led by table leaders and coordinated by an overall moderator. Attendees may rotate from table to table or stay put. Involvement of attendees in content presentation is encouraged.
      • Workshop/Demonstration: In-depth training or learning. It is expected that attendees actively participate in the session and may require attendees to have concrete ideas and/or materials to work on during the session (i.e. workshopping a song).
      • Pitch Event: Attendees pitch material or ideas to a panel of experts for constructive critique and feedback for improvement, refinement, or next steps.
      • Networking Event: Intended to introduce and familiarize two or more industry groups (i.e. broadcasters and labels) to develop, improve, or further constructive business relationships.
      • Other innovative format ideas are welcome and can be submitted by selecting “Other” and filling in the accompanying text field.
    2. Title. Each session requires a title that accurately communicates the main topic presented in the session.
    3. Description (word limit: 100). Each session requires a description that accurately conveys the content of the session. Title and Description will be published in the printed conference program, online schedule, and conference app.
    4. Target Audience. Please identify the target audience(s) from the following IBMA membership constituencies: Agents/Managers/Publicists, Artists, Associations, Broadcasters, Composers, Educators, Electronic and Print Media, Event Producers/Talent Buyers, Luthiers & Merchandisers, Record Labels, and Recording/Sound Engineers. Select as many as apply, “Other,” or “All.”
    5. Audience Experience Level. Indicate the experience level required of audience members to benefit from your session. Is your session content suitable for entry-level attendees, intermediate, or advanced? You may alternately select “All” if your session is applicable to all experience levels. Note: festival sessions should be general enough to appeal to ALL attendees.
  • Presenter Information
    • Number of Presenters. Please indicate the proposed number of presenters for the session, including the Primary Contact/Moderator.
    • Proposed Presenters. For each presenter, please include the following information:
      • Name
      • Organization (Company, Band, etc.)
      • Email

Submit Proposal

Not ready to organize your own session? Suggest a topic for our education committee here!

Selection Process

Proposals will be reviewed by our 9-member Education Committee and evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Coherence of the proposal – Are the main concept and goals of the session clear and understandable?
  • How well the proposal addresses key issues facing the bluegrass community currently and in the future.
  • Potential to offer new knowledge and insights on key issues that may benefit attendees and enrich attendee experience.
  • Feasibility – Are the educational goals of the proposal realistic and attainable?  Are the proposed presenters real possibilities (e.g. Bill Gates of Microsoft would likely not be a real possibility for an IBMA Business Conference panel)?

Session Confirmation

After sessions have been selected, moderators will be contacted via email and be required to confirm the panel via an online confirmation form. The confirmation will require the following additional information for the selected session:

  • AV Request.  Please indicate the audiovisual needs for your session. Check only specific equipment essential to deliver your session presentations. Please do not request equipment you are not certain that you need (each AV request is a real cost to the IBMA).
  • Presenter Information for those participating in the session as follows (used in print, online and app schedules, as well as event and session promotion):
    • Name
    • Organization
    • Email
    • Bio
    • Headshot

Tips and Things to Keep in Mind

  • Consider how your session can incorporate or speak to some aspect of this year’s conference theme.
    • This year’s theme will focus on the changing landscape of the music industry. We have weathered trends and adapted to new ways of doing business over the past 75 years, but what we have experienced and learned about ourselves and our industry here in 2020 will have lasting impacts for decades to come. Where does bluegrass go from here? How can we better work together and integrate the various sectors of our industry? How can we shape our next 75 years?
  • Consider ways to make your session dynamic and interactive, integrating audience participation into the session (beyond question and answer at the end).
  • Plan on a 50-minute session.
  • Be sure to focus session time on substantive content. DO NOT spend time on presenter bios during the session. This information consumes valuable session time and will be available to attendees via the conference program, online schedule, and conference app.
  • Be realistic in setting session goals and possible presenters (i.e. pick presenters you have a reasonable chance of securing for your session).
  • Conference scheduling is complex. If accepted, your session may be scheduled at any of the following times:
    • Tuesday, 11:10AM-12:00PM
    • Tuesday, 1:00PM-1:50PM
    • Wednesday, 9:00AM-9:50AM
    • Wednesday, 10:00AM-10:50AM
    • Thursday, 9:00AM-9:50AM
    • Friday-Saturday times for festival sessions are more flexible, but will general fall between 11:00AM and 3:00PM
  • All presenters on selected sessions will receive complimentary registration FOR THE DAY that they present (note: weekend festival sessions DO NOT include complimentary registration as all Friday-Saturday festival content in the Convention Center is free and open to the public). All presenters on selected panels will be contacted via the information submitted as part of the proposal after decisions have been made and sessions scheduled (after June 15, 2020). Due to budgetary concerns, the IBMA asks presenters who are in a financial position to do so to consider waiving their complementary registration and paying the registration fee to attend (note: this is not a requirement). Presenters who would like to waive the complimentary registration may simply register for the conference via once registration opens. Managers, agents, partners, associates, etc. DO NOT receive complimentary registrations to accompany presenters except in rare situations where there is an accessibility concern.
  • Any session or speaker cancellations after July 31 will be subject to a disqualification for consideration for the next two consecutive years.
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