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2017 IBC Youth Showcase Rules
and Scoring System

[Youth Showcase 2017 Announcement]
[Road To Memphis "Youth Showcase" 2017 Online Application]
[Printable Application Form]

IBC has evolved into the nation’s biggest and most respected showcase for Blues musicians ready to take their act to the national stage. The IBC is a judged “Battle of the Bands” in which competitors take the stage and play a short set for a panel of judges. The acts are judged based on an established set of criteria.

Affiliates are required to stage a regional preliminary IBC competition, with the winner of that competition representing the organization in the Memphis international competition. Usually, these preliminary rounds are held in clubs as part of a fundraiser or simply an excitement-building event. Each organization is free to structure the preliminary round as it sees fit, as long as a single band and/or solo/duo act is identified. However, since The Blues Foundation scoring criteria will determine the ultimate winner, we strongly encourage our Affiliates to use the same system in the preliminary competitions.

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 never 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.

Youth – any act that all members are under the age of 21 at the time of the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. PLEASE NOTE: Youth acts can be appointed by the board of an affiliate. A competition is not required. 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.

Scoring Criteria

The Blues Foundation recommends that all Affiliated Organizations in their competition use our established scoring criteria. Categories include Blues Content, Vocals, Talent, Originality and Stage Presence.

  1. Blues Content: Everyone has his or her own interpretation of what is and is not Blues. Thus, any given judge panel will include members with varying opinions of Blues, covering the spectrum of Blues whenever possible, from the most traditional to soul/blues and rock/blues. Bands should pick material carefully.
  2. Vocals: The acts vocal skills.
  3. Talent: The acts instrumental skills.
  4. Originality: Original work is encouraged. Cover tunes are allowed but playing the recorded rendition lick by lick is discouraged; will not be looked upon favorably by the judges; and will be reflected in scoring.
  5. Stage Presence: Most contestants have performed on stage enough to know that they are not simply playing music, but putting on a show. This category rates how “sellable” a band may be.


To reflect the relative importance of each category in the success of a band, a band’s score in each category is weighted. Raw scores will be multiplied by weighted factors. The weighted multipliers will be Blues content (x4); talent and vocals (x3); originality (x2) and stage presence (x2). The total in each category represents the Weighted Score for that category. Total possible weighted score is 140.

Penalty Points

An ACT will be penalized one point from its Total Weighted Score (see ‘Scoring System For Judges’, #5 below) for each ten seconds that it runs overtime. There is no penalty for using less than the allotted time. At the producing organization’s discretion, a policy of penalty for excessive time loading-in and out will also be applied. These items demonstrate professionalism and seriousness about the competition or the business side of the blues.

Here is the scoring procedure for 2017.

  1. All categories and weightings are as previously stated.
  2. Each judge will indicate his or her Raw Score (a whole number between 1 and 10) in each category and turn that information over to the scorekeeper.
    • 1-3 – Typical of a beginning blues band.
    • 4-5 – Typical of a local weekend band.
    • 6-7 – Typical of an advanced local band but not yet ready to headline a major blues club.
    • 8-9 – Typical of the quality of blues artists who headline major clubs.
    • 10 – Typical of those who play the main stage at major festivals such as the LRBC or King Biscuit Blues Festival.
  3. The scorekeeper will multiply the Raw Score in each category by the established multiplier to get each judge’s Weighted Score in each category for each act.
  4. The Weighted Scores from each category for an act are added together to determine the acts’ Total Weighted Score for each judge (max. 140).
  5. Any penalty points will then be deducted to obtain the act’s Net Weighted Score for each judge.
  6. After all acts have been judged and each act’s Net Weighted Score for each judge calculated, each act will then be ranked for each judge based on that judge’s order of scores, with the act receiving the judge’s highest Net Weighted Score being given a ranking of 1, and so on for that judge. So, in a competition with five acts, for example, each judge ends up with the acts ranked 1 – 5 based on each judge’s personal scoring habits. This results in the acts’ Final Ranking Number for each judge.
  7. Next, the scorer totals the Final Ranking Number from all judges for each act to determine the Gross Final Ranking. That figure is averaged (divided by the total number of judges) to Achieve the Aggregate Act Ranking. The act with the best Aggregate Act Ranking will be the top finisher.
  8. In the case of a tie, the scorer shall calculate the sum of all Net Weighted Scores from all judges for the tied acts. The band with the higher sum of Net Weighted Scores wins.

Youth Showcase

Youth Act – any act that all members are under the age of 21 at the time of the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. PLEASE NOTE: Youth acts can be appointed by the board of an affiliate. A competition is not required.

The Youth Showcase is a one day event held on Friday afternoon. Youth acts are NOT required to attend the four day event.

The Youth Showcase is not judged, however all competition rules, regulations and restrictions apply.

2017 Blues Challenge Format

Sets will be 25 minutes long. There will be a ten minute window between acts for teardown/setup. This will require cooperation, preparedness and professionalism between the acts to changeover for each set. It is up to the Venue Coordinator to exercise discretion on assigning penalty points for any infraction.

Staging and Equipment

The venue will provide backline and sound. The setup on stage will include a drum kit with snare drum, amps, keyboards and mics. The backline will be based on your registration information. Drummers should bring their own cymbals and kick pedals (Yes, you will need your cymbals, you might want to bring your own snare too) and Harmonica players CAN (but are not required) bring their own harp amp. Keyboard players may (but are not required, we will provide) bring their own keyboards and keyboard amps, keyboard stands will be provided. Effects racks and other auxiliary equipment are permitted. Musicians must include on the registration form any additional or special equipment needed.

Competitors are prohibited from bringing their own amplifiers (harp amps and keyboard amps being the only exceptions.)Please bring a DI (if you use one), every effort will be made to provide suitable equipment. Exceptions to this prohibition may only be granted pursuant to a formal written petition submitted in writing and received via email by the Event Producer () no less than 14 days prior to the competition. With the number of bands participating, it is impossible for us to allow every player to bring an amp, space considerations prohibit it. Thus, any petition for an equipment waiver must include a compelling reason for exclusion.

The Minnesota Blues Society reserves the right to approve or restrict any and all equipment an entrant wishes to bring on stage.

Order of Appearance

The order of appearance of acts will be determined by a random drawing.

Other Points of Consideration

The Minnesota Blues Society reserves the right to use any contestant’s name, voices, pictures, visages and other likeness for the purpose of advertising, publishing and promoting the IBC or the Minnesota Blues Society. The Minnesota Blues Society reserves the right to videotape or otherwise record all Youth Showcase competitions. MnBS shall retain total ownership of all recordings and programs, and reserves the right to edit the program, the right to broadcast the program, the right to copyright the program and the right to license others to use these rights.


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page last updated: Wednesday, February 8, 2017

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