While the Marriott Hotel and The Sheraton Raleigh are most convenient to all the action, numerous alternatives are available for those attending. For years we stayed at the campground located on the State Fairgrounds, about six miles from downtown, where over 100 full service sites are set aside for IBMA. A free shuttle service to the Convention Center is provided. This year, we've found an Airbnb near the capitol, a short Uber ride from the Convention Center, but there are over 300 places listed in Raleigh. Many other accomodations are available. Consult the visitors bureau.
For most people attending The World of Bluegrass, the interactive map below shows the part of downtown Raleigh where World of Bluegrass takes place. Familiarize yourself with the area from the Duke Energy Center to the Sate Capitol Building. Fayetteville Street is the major street. The embedded Google Map below is an active map which can be contracted and expanded to use for all sites around Raleigh:
At the end of IBMA week, the team should plan a day-long retreat to do an analysis of what they learned and how it can be applied to their business. It’s worth remembering that band leadership and membership consist of more than getting to a gig and performing your sets. Like any work week at any job, there are highs, in the case of music, performing, and their are necessary chores and low points along the trail, but most time should be allocated for working to help the band succeed.
Every meeting with a person the band members think could help the band achieve its goals should be followed up soon after the conference, and the relationships developed at IBMA should be cultivated and grown over the succeeding year, or years. Time in the van or the bus can be well spent in this effort. Both conferring and following up by phone can be accomplished on the road. Assignments should be discussed, reports can be made, plans for further discussions with influencers like radio dj’s, writers, promoters, publications, and more. Using the Business Conference and following up on what you learned is essential. Don't wait to stroll in on your day to perform. Involve yourself in your own career rather than waiting for it to happen to you.
I’m told by two very reliable sources that when IBMA was founded, Pete Kuykendahl, founder and editor of BluegrassUnlimited magazine, sought to avoid having an awards show, thinking that the hullabaloo of such an event would overshadow the importance of the Business Conference. Despite the fact that he was probably correct regarding where the emphasis should be, the evening of major awards is well-attended. Held at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, the show gives bluegrass glitterati a chance to dress up and celebrate what the membership has voted to be the “best” in a number of categories. If only honorees could observe the rules about how to accept awards, the show would even finish within the three hour time limit it seeks to meet. Nevertheless, the Awards Show is lots of fun, while representing a great opportunity to transition into the final two days of celebration and music called Wide Open Bluegrass.
Probably of more interest to the active membership of IBMA is the luncheon held earlier in the day in a large meeting hall in the Raleigh Convention Center. The Industry Awards celebrate the nuts and bolts of bluegrass, while also highlighting the Distinguished Achievements of important movers and shakers within the industry. The industry awards luncheon is one of the scheduled events of your IBMA Business Conference registration. It also includes performances by featured bluegrass artists. It’s an engaging celebration
In addition to the open air Street Fair running down Fayetteville Street and including sound stages on several different side streets, all closed to traffic for this Friday and Saturday event, you will find performances, free seminars, and Exhibit Hall to be available in the Raleigh Convention Center. Behind the Convention Center and across the street lies the Red Hat Amphitheater, where live music from some Bluegrass Music's biggest stars is held. This year, a large portion of the Red Hat been opened free to the public. while ticketed premium seats are still available. The huge JumboTron makes viewing possible from a distance, and the sound is superb.
The entire World of Bluegrass and Wide Open Bluegrass is simply too large to encompass in a single blog. Your willingness to do some serious planning, attend the conference with discipline, and spend some serious time processing the event after its over, making sure you follow up with the contacts you meet there, will assure that you don't need to ask "What has IBMA ever done for me." Rather, it will allow you to learn new strategies, make new contacts, and improve your competitiveness in the difficult world of making bluegrass music work to help you meet your goals. It's all up to you!