Skip to main content
Add Me To Your Mailing List
Home2017 Blues Challenge Scoring Criteria



The Blues Foundation recommends that all Affiliated Organizations in their competition use our established scoring criteria. Categories include Vocal Talent, Instrumental Talent, Blues Content, Stage Presence and Originality. The following represents the pertinent information that will be used for the Ozark Blues Society Blues Challenge.


IBC judges are Blues professionals and aficionados with a deep understanding and historical perspective of all blues forms. Any given three-judge panel will include members with varying opinions of Blues, covering the spectrum of Blues from the most traditional to soul/blues and rock/blues.The following information is from the Blues Foundation Website:


Scoring Categories and Definitions:

  • Blues Content:  The sound and feel of the music should be true to any of blues sub-categories: traditional blues, country blues, soul blues, blues rock and/or contemporary blues. Judges will be listening for inspired and original song selections or new takes on blues standards. Creative reach is encouraged.
  • 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.

Acts must indicate if their songs are their own original material (this can be done at the start of the set or before each song as appropriate) and/or identify the covers that they are playing and acknowledge the originator. (emphasis added)

  • Vocals: The act’s vocal skills to include concepts of tone, musicality, meaning, and expression.
  • Instrumental Talent: Ability level on all instruments featured within the act.
  • Stage Presence:  The ability to command the attention of the audience by the impressiveness of one’s manner and appearance on stage. Judges will consider how an act connects with and engages the audience in the music. Proper use of microphones and amplification will be considered.

Basic Scoring Calculation:

Judges will score acts on a 10 point scale, with 10 points being the highest score received and 1 point being the lowest. The following weights will be used in calculating final scores:

  • Raw scores for Blues Content will be multiplied by four
  • Raw scores for Originality will be multiplied by three
  • Raw scores for Talent and for Vocals will be multiplied by two
  • Raw scores for Stage Presence will be multiplied by two

The maximum Total Weighted Score an act may receive is 130.

Penalty Points:

An act will be penalized one point from its Total Weighted Score for each of the following:

  • Missing the online application deadline or not completing online application completely or accurately by the deadline.
  • Missing act check-in or act registration on the first day of the event
  • Each night the act neglects to check in with its Venue Coordinator at least 20 minutes before the first performance begins at the assigned venue.
  • Excessive time loading-in before and/or loading out after a competition performance
  • Failing to acknowledge that a song is a cover and/or not giving credit to its originator
  • Each ten seconds that it runs overtime during a competition performance.
  • Finishing 3 or more minutes before its allotted performance time expires.
  • Showing up late and/or missing Finals Orientation
  • Showing up late and/or not being ready to perform on time at the Finals
  • Performing in any other venue in the city of Memphis during formal IBC hours and in direct conflict with Blues Foundation programmed activities

The Blues Foundation strongly suggests that after meeting with their Venue Coordinator for their required check-in each night, each act remain in their assigned venue in order to be immediately available to perform at the Venue Coordinator’s direction. The Venue Coordinator will be responsible for assessing Penalty Points based on IBC rules.

Affiliates and/or Acts are prohibited from contacting any IBC venue for any reason, and any act that directly contacts a venue leading up to or during the course of the International Blues Challenge will be subject to disqualification. The Blues Foundation is your ONLY contact for this competition.***


  1. Each judge will indicate his or her Raw Score, between 1 and 10, in each category and turn that information over to the Scorekeeper using the following scale:
  • 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
  1. The Scorekeeper will multiply the Raw Score in each category by the established multiplier to get each judge’s Individual Weighted Score in each category for each act.
  2. The Individual Weighted Scores for each category will be added together to determine each act’s Total Weighted Score for each judge.
  3. Any penalty points assigned will then be deducted from each judge’s Total Weighted Score to obtain the act’s Net Weighted Score for each judge.
  4. After all acts have been judged and each act’s Net Weighted Score per judge calculated, each act will be ranked by 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. This will reveal each acts Final Ranking Number for each judge.
  5. The Scorekeeper then will  total the Final Ranking Number from all judges for each act to determine the Gross Final Ranking. This figure is averaged (divided by the total number of judges) to Achieve the Aggregate Act Ranking.

***At IBC, Venue Coordinators have the authority to act on behalf of The Blues Foundation to insure the event goes smoothly in their designated venue. In the event that a band scheduled to play in a specific slot is not able to perform for whatever reason, the VC will have the authority to deduct a point from the band’s overall weighted score for that night’s competition. The next band scheduled to play will be asked to step into that slot. Should that band, for whatever reason, not be able to perform when asked, the VC has the authority to deduct a point from that band, and so on. With that in mind, The Blues Foundation strongly suggests that after a band has met with their VC for their required check-in each night, they stay in the venue and are available to perform at the VC’s direction, regardless of which slot they are scheduled to play. Bands that have missed their designated slot will be allowed to perform later in the night but will still suffer the loss of a point on the weighted score. These items demonstrate professionalism and seriousness about the competition or the business side of the blues.