International Blues Challenge Rules

IBC Rules

1. Who can enter?

A Blues act cannot enter the International Blues Challenge (IBC) directly. Only a Blues Foundation Affiliate may sponsor an act. The act is eligible as long as it has not ever received a Blues Music Award nomination. An act may not participate in the IBC in three consecutive years. An act may be a band, solo/duo or youth.

2. What is an affiliate?

The International Blues Challenge is restricted to acts sponsored by a Blues Foundation affiliate. The Piedmont Blues Preservation Society is a Blues Foundation affiliate. 

Each of The Blues Foundation’s 190+ Affiliated Organizations has the opportunity (but not the obligation) to sponsor one or more acts in the IBC. Each Affiliate may enter a Band in the Band Division and/or a Solo/Duo act in the Solo/Duo Division to compete in the 28th IBC in 2010. Each Affiliate may also send a youth act for the Youth Showcase.

3. What is a Blues Music Award nomination?

The only artists who are deemed ineligible for the International Blues Challenge are artists whose have been nominated for a Blues Music Award–whose name has appeared on a final Blues Music Award ballot–in the 30+ year history of the Blues Music Awards (and formerly the W.C. Handy Awards). A searchable database of past nominees can be found here. All other musicians who have had peripheral and/or professional contact through performance with a Blues Music Award nominee, including but not limited to, touring band members and studio musicians, are deemed eligible for the IBC. The exception is band members of a band nominated for Band of the Year. Each member is considered a Blues Music Award nominee even though the band name, not each band member’s name appears on the final ballot. 

For the purpose of the IBC, being named on a final ballot for the Blues Music Awards is the dividing line with regard to eligibility. The Blues Music Award is considered the highest award a Blues artist can receive for excellence in their craft. Artists whose names have appeared on a final ballot for the Blues Music Awards have achieved a level of recognition within the Blues world that sets them apart from all other Blues artists. It is one of the measuring sticks by which a successful career in Blues music can be gauged.

4. Are there other restrictions?

An act is limited to two consecutive appearances at the IBC and must then sit out at least one year before being eligible to compete again. An act under the same name will not be allowed to compete three consecutive years.

An individual may not compete in more than one act in any capacity.

A musician cannot compete in the Band Division and the Solo/Duo Division, even if that musician represents a different Affiliate in each.

Affiliates are allowed and often do impose additional eligibility restrictions for their own competitions. 

5. What is a band? What is a solo/duo? What is youth?

The IBC adheres to the following criteria for what constitutes a band, what constitutes a solo/duo act, and what constitutes as a youth act.

Band – any act with three or more musicians. Vocalists are counted as musicians for the purpose of this competition. Both electric and acoustic instruments are allowed.

Solo/Duo – any act with one or two musicians. Vocalists are counted as musicians for the purpose of this competition. Both electric and acoustic instruments are allowed.

Youth – any act that all members are under the age of 21 at the time of the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.

6. How does an Affiliate enter an act?

Affiliates in Canada and the United States must conduct an open, judged live music competition. Affiliates in these two countries may not appoint an act.

An Affiliate’s entrant is considered a representative of that Affiliate in every capacity. Thus, the Affiliate remains liable for any problems created by its representative.

All digital applications, as well as findings of eligibility and registration requirements for IBC are the responsibility of the Affiliate, NOT THE ACT.

7. What else?

Affiliates are not only encouraged, they are expected to enforce these rules to ensure that their acts are indeed eligible.

The Blues Foundation will stand as the final arbiter of any eligibility disputes. All contestants must register by the pre-determined deadline, in the format requested, before competing in IBC. Any Band found at any time to have been ineligible at the time of the competition will be stripped of its award(s) and the Affiliate may be liable for financial restitution of cash and other prizes to The Blues Foundation.

Any International Blues Challenge questions please email joe@blues.org or call 901.527.2583 ext. 11.