Eligibility & Submission Guidelines
Submission Processing Fees




Album – Adult Contemporary
Album – Alt. Country
Album – Americana
Album – Bluegrass
Album – Blues
Album – Children’s Music
Album – Compilation Album
Album – Concept Album
Album – Contemporary Christian / Gospel
Album – Contemporary Classical
Album – Country
Album – Dance / Electronica
Album – Debut Album – New!
Album – Eclectic
Album – Folk / Singer-Songwriter
Album – Funk / Fusion / Jam
Album – Indie / Alt. Rock
Album – Instrumental (Mainly)
Album – Jazz Instrumental (Mainly)
Album – Jazz with Vocals (Mainly)
Album – Latin
Album – Live Performance
Album – Metal / Hardcore
Album – New Age
Album – Pop
Album – R&B / Soul
Album – Rap / Hip-Hop
Album – Reissue
Album – Rock / Hard Rock
Album – Spoken Word (with music accompaniment)
Album – Tribute Album
Album – World Beat
Album – World Traditional


Song – A Cappella
Song – Acoustic
Song – Adult Contemporary
Song – Alt. Country
Song – Americana
Song – Bluegrass
Song – Blues
Song – Children’s Music
Song – Contemporary Christian / Gospel
Song – Country
Song – Cover Song
Song – Dance / Electronica
Song – Eclectic
Song – Folk / Singer-Songwriter
Song – Funk / Fusion / Jam
Song – Holiday Song (Any Holiday)
Song – Indie / Alt. Rock
Song – Instrumental
Song – Jazz Instrumental
Song – Jazz with Vocals
Song – Latin
Song – Love Song
Song – Metal / Hardcore
Song – New Age
Song – Pop
Song – R&B / Soul
Song – Rap / Hip-Hop
Song – Rock / Hard Rock
Song – Social Action
Song – Spoken Word (with music accompaniment)
Song – Story Song
Song – World Beat
Song – World Traditional

EP [3-5 songs; 25 minutes or less]

EP – Dance / Electronica
EP – Eclectic (Eclectic / Spoken Word with music)
EP – Instrumental (New Age / Instrumental / Contemporary Classical)
EP – Jazz (Jazz / Funk / Fusion / Jam)
EP – Live Performance
EP – Pop (Pop / Adult Contemporary)
EP – Rock (Indie / Alt. Rock, Rock / Hard Rock, Metal / Hardcore)
EP – Roots / Country (Folk / Singer-Songwriter, Americana, Bluegrass, Blues, Alt. Country, Country)
EP – Urban (Rap / Hip-Hop, R&B / Soul)
EP – World (Latin / World Beat / World Traditional)

MUSIC PRODUCER Awarded to the producer(s) of a full-length Album or EP:

Producer – Dance / Electronica
Producer – Eclectic (Eclectic / Spoken Word with music)
Producer – Instrumental (New Age / Instrumental / Contemporary Classical)
Producer – Jazz (Jazz / Funk / Fusion / Jam)
Producer – Live Performance
Producer – Pop (Pop / Adult Contemporary)
Producer – Rock (Indie / Alt. Rock, Rock / Hard Rock, Metal / Hardcore)
Producer – Roots / Country (Folk / Singer-Songwriter, Americana, Bluegrass, Blues, Alt. Country, Country)
Producer – Urban (Rap / Hip-Hop, R&B / Soul)
Producer – World (Latin / World Beat / World Traditional)


Music Video – Long Form
Music Video – Short Form
Music Video – Lyric


Artist Publicity Photo
Live Performance Photo
Music Website (Artist, Band, Record Label, Etc.) – Sponsored by
Album Packaging
Album Art
Gig / Promo Poster (Venue, Record Release, Festival, etc.)
Swag (Merchandising)




We strongly recommend – but do not require – that all submitted material is copyrighted.
Learn more about how to copyright your work here:

  • All self-releases and independent record label releases are eligible. (This includes Independent releases distributed by a major label).
  • Music released by Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group or any of their sub labels is NOT eligible.
  • Music must be released  (ie. available to the public in physical, digital download or streaming format – for sale or free) between TBA.
  • Submissions to all Song categories (except Cover Song & A Cappella Song categories) must be original.
  • Cover Songs do not require permission from the publisher to be eligible.
  • Album, EP and Music Producer entries must be primarily original material (except Tribute Album)
  • EP: Consists of 3-5 songs; 25 minutes or less. (Exceptions made for work publicly described or reviewed as an EP.)



We recommend – but do not require – that all submitted material is copyrighted.

  • All Video and Design entries must be created exclusively for a project that is released (ie. available to the public in physical, digital download or streaming format – for sale or free) between TBA.
  • Design submissions may feature independent and/or major label artists.
  • Long Form Music Video is defined as a video presentation of a concert, documentary, multi-video compilation, etc.
  • Music Website: must promote an artist/band, independent record label, music event, music venue, or music business company.
  • Swag: is defined as any individual article or packaged articles of merchandise (t-shirt, hat, mug, bumper sticker, kazoo, etc.) created exclusively for the band or release being promoted.



Music Submissions:
  • All music entries must be fully mastered and complete. Demo recordings are not eligible.
  • Album categories: one entry = one complete, full-length Album
  • Song categories: one entry = one complete Song
  • EP categories: one entry = one complete EP
  • Music Producer category: one entry = one complete, full-length Album or EP
  • Music Video Short Form (Concept, Performance or Lyric): one entry = one video of a song
  • Music Video Long Form: one entry = one multiple song video presentation, music documentary, or other long form video
Music Category Guidelines:
  • A Cappella Song: may not contain any pitched instruments
  • Compilation Album: a compilation of various artists or a compilation of one artist’s previous work
  • Concept Album: all songs must connect to an overall theme or unified story
  • Cover Song: must be version of a previously recorded, commercially released song by another artist
  • Eclectic Album: a broad and diverse range of musical styles either within the songs or throughout the album
  • Eclectic Song: a broad and diverse range of musical styles within the song
  • Holiday Song (Any Holiday): theme must relate to a specific holiday/holidays or holiday season
  • Instrumental Album: Majority of the album must be instrumental only
  • Instrumental Song: No lyrics or singing, but may include limited vocal input, (e.g. in the song “Tequila”).
  • Live Performance Album: album must be recorded in front of a live audience
  • Love Song: theme must revolve around Love (searching for love, being in love, unrequited love, breaking up, etc.).
  • Reissue Album: album must have been released previously
  • Social Action Song: covers social issues and/or encourages social change or action
  • Spoken Word Album or Song: lyrics must be spoken with no structured melody; majority of song or album must contain music accompaniment
Design Entries:
  • Album Packaging: one entry = all packaging components specific to one release
  • Album Art: one entry = artwork for the album cover (CD/vinyl face), back panel, and any tray panels, booklets, inserts or other artwork for one release
  • Poster: one entry = one poster promoting a gig, festival, release, etc.
  • Photography: one entry = one black & white/color print (8 x 10 preferred) or digital file
  • Swag (Merchandising) design category: one entry = one article or packaged articles of merchandise (t-shirt, hat, mug, bumper sticker, kazoo, etc.)
  • Music Website (Artist, Band, Record Label, etc.): one entry = one site homepage URL
  • ENTRY DEADLINE: Midnite, Thursday, November 30th, 2017
  • You may enter the same Song, Album, or EP in multiple categories
  • You may submit as many entries as you wish
  • If submitting by mail, include one CD per entry and clearly identify on each disc: the name of the artist, the title of the work, and the one category for which it is to be considered
  • If payment was made online and you are submitting by mail, be sure to print out and include your IMA order receipt with your submission
  • If paying by check, a completed entry form (or photocopy) must accompany each submission

Submission Processing Fees:


The processing fee helps to offset the cost of organizing, opening, sorting, listening, debating, rating, tracking down & communicating with judges in far-flung places around the globe, tallying & posting results.

The nominal fee covers all IMA ongoing marketing support. There are NO Additional fees for performance and promotions including inclusion on “Now Hear This” compilation distribution, 12-week radio promotion campaign to 650 US & Canadian college, public and commercial radio, press releases, showcases, etc.

1 Song Entry = $30
1 Music Video (Long Form, Short Form or Lyric Video) Entry = $30
1 Design Entry = $30
1 Album Entry = $50
1 EP Entry = $50
1 Producer Entry = $50




Is this an international program?
Yes! The Independent Music Awards receives entries from nearly 100 countries on 6 continents.


How are the nominees and winners determined?
NOMINEES: IMA Artist & Industry Judging Panelists select up to five (5) Nominees in each Album, EP, Song, Producer, Design and Video category.

Submissions go through several rounds of review to rank the totality of their artistic excellence based on originality, musicianship, and overall quality.

*Fans vote in one (1) Nominee in every Song category as well as the Short Form and Lyric Music Video categories.


Nominated work is ranked by esteemed recording artists, radio programmers, music supervisors, producers, reviewers, talent buyers and other influencers.

Music Fans vote for their favorite projects in all music, video and design categories.

When are nominees & winners announced?
Nominees will be announced in early 2018; Winners will be announced March 31, 2018.
Scheduled dates are subject to change.

Nominees & winners are notified via the email address provided in their submission registration. (It is important to add [email protected] to your approved contacts – and notify us if your contact info changes.)

In addition to the official press release, announcements will also posted on The IMA website, Facebook and Twitter pages, and in The IMA Buzz Newsletter.

To receive IMA news and updates, click here to sign up for The Buzz newsletter.

Is there a ceremony?
YES! Awards will be presented on Saturday, March 31, 2018 at The IMA Independent Music Party held in the David Rubenstein Atrium of the renowned Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City.

Do I have to attend the ceremony to be named a winner?
No! Winning projects are determined solely for their artistic merit. However, if you don’t attend you will miss out on awesome performances, parties, promotion and networking opportunities.

I’m not a nominee – why should I attend the ceremony?
The annual indie music celebration brings artists and influencers from around the globe together. In addition to the award presentations and performances on the Lincoln Center stage, showcases, discussions, networking and parties are held in the nearby Empire Hotel.

How much does it cost to attend the ceremony?
ALL events are FREE but space is Limited!

Click Here to RSVP and reserve your IMA wristband [which also entitles you to hotel, food & drink Discounts].

Check-In begins Friday, March 30th during the opening night party at the Empire Hotel.
More detailed schedules will be posted when available.

What do I win?
The IMAs elevate the exceptional work of artists and releases from around the globe. In addition to the prestige of earning IMA honors, your best work is showcased to peers, heroes and influencers – including radio programmers, talent buyers, producers and press.

Enhanced promotional opportunities may include radio promotion, branded streaming, sync placements, brand sponsorships, performances, events, industry introductions and more. Entrants also eligible for select performance and marketing opportunities.

Ownership & Copyright

Do I lose any rights to work entered?
NO! You maintain all rights to your work.

Does my work have to be copyrighted?
It is not a requirement. However, we believe that every artist should have their material protected with a copyright. You can learn more here:

Can I enter cover songs?
Yes, while most IMA music categories require original material – Covers are accepted in the Cover Song, A Cappella Song, Tribute Album, Concept Album, Short Form Music Video and Lyric Video categories.

All other Album categories may contain a mix of cover and original tunes, but must predominantly consist of originals.


How can I enter?
It’s easy to submit using The IMA’s online Secure Submission Platform. Register online, fill in the fields, and provide the submission via one of the acceptable formats:

Song categories: Upload (MP3 only, 20MB file limit), or link to download/stream full version
Album, EP and Producer categories: Upload (MP3 only, 20MB per song file limit), link to download/stream full album (no snippets), or snail mail CD
Design categories: Upload (any image file format, 20MB file limit), link to download/view, or snail mail
Video categories: Link (YouTube or Vimeo links only) or snail mail

When is the deadline to submit?
The deadline to enter The 16th IMAs is Midnite, Thursday, November 30th, 2017.
All mailed entries must be postmarked on or before this date.  (There is NO need to pay extra for rush delivery.)

The IMAs reserves the right to extend the deadline.

What does it cost to enter?
A nominal processing fee is required per entry:
1 Song Entry = $30
1 Music Video (Long Form, Short Form or Lyric Video) Entry = $30
1 Design Entry = $30
1 Album Entry = $50
1 EP Entry = $50
1 Producer Entry = $50

Why do I have to pay to enter?
The processing fee helps to offset the cost of organizing, opening, sorting, listening, debating, rating, tracking down & communicating with judges in far-flung places around the globe, tallying & posting results.

It also covers all IMA ongoing marketing support – there are NO Additional fees for performance and promotions including inclusion on “Now Hear This” compilation distribution, 12 week-radio promotion campaign to 650 US & Canadian college, public and commercial radio, press releases, showcases, etc.

How can I pay the processing fee?
You may pay by credit card or Paypal.

Can I enter work in multiple categories?
Yes you may enter the same song, album, or EP in multiple categories.
Check out the Submission Guidelines for the details.

How many CDs should I include if I’m mailing in my entry?
Include one (1) CD per category entry. Multiple submissions may be sent together.
To be sure that your entries are processed correctly, you must include the submission receipt.

Which categories should I enter?
With more than 90 Album, Song, EP, Producer, Video & Design categories, there’s a lot to choose from. You can view them here.
Artists often have difficulty pigeonholing their music – especially if it’s a mix of musical styles and influences. Or suited to more than one category.

Entrants can (and often do) enter the same work in multiple categories to expand their opportunities.

FYI: Sometimes judging panelists recommend that an entry would be better suited to another genre category. We will contact you for permission before making any changes. (Be sure to notify us if your contact info changes – and add [email protected] and [email protected] to your approved contacts so you won’t miss any news or opportunities.)

Must all music submissions be original compositions?
With the exception of Cover Song & A Cappella Song, all Song categories require original compositions, or the first public recording of the composition to be eligible.

Album, EP, and Music Producer entries must feature a majority of original material, with the exception of Tribute and Concept Album.

I entered work, or was asked to submit. Does this mean I’ve been nominated?
Submitting work, or being invited to enter a project is not a Nomination. Entries must receive high scores from judges and fans to be nominated.

OK, I submitted. Will I ever hear from you?
Of course! We’ll email you directly throughout the year to keep you posted about important IMA dates, news and opportunities, so please be sure to inform us when your contact info changes.
And news about The IMAs will be posted on our website, social media pages, newsletters, press releases, blog posts, etc.

IMA A&R Development Board

New to The 16th IMAs: A&R Development Board led by legendary music execs Phil Q & Bob Cutarella will seek to match standout 16th IMA Entrants with development deals to suit various career stages including Artist Development, Publishing, Sync Placement, Brand Sponsorships and live performance Festival Bookings.

All submitted projects to The 16th IMAs will be considered. You will be contacted by email if selected. There are NO Additional fees – and you are under NO Obligation to participate.

Fan Voting

How can my fans help?
Your fans can help you earn IMA honors by voting for your submissions, and sharing them with their social networks. IMA toolkits make it easy for Entrants and Fans to promote your work and help you snag coveted ‘Fan-favorite” awards.

How do fans vote?
Fans sign up for Free to discover new music projects and champion their favorites on The IMAs online voting platform.

What are fan rewards?
Fans are rewarded for championing Artists on The IMA site, and on their own social networks. Points are earned by listening, viewing, liking and sharing songs and videos. The top scoring fan will become The  IMA Fan Winner and be invited for VIP meet and greets at the Lincoln Center Award Ceremony, and after-Party events. Fan winner will be notified by email in early 2018.

Can I win both the Fan & the Judge-Determined Award?
Absolutely!! And each year, several IMA artists do win both awards.

How do I vote?
There are No fees required to Nominate an Artist / Band, or to champion an IMA artist. However you must register to vote. Click here to Register

  1. 1. Register at fans.IndependentMusicAwards.com
  2. 2. You must enter a valid email address and a password. Click button to register, then check your inbox to confirm your registration. If you do not receive the activation link, check your spam/junk folder and approve receiving emails from [email protected]
  3. 3. Once you have confirmed your registration, log in using the email address and password you provided.

I can’t log in. What’s the problem?
The activation link may be stuck in your spam/junk folder or you’re trying to log in using an email address that’s different than what you used to register. You will not be able to log in without clicking this activation link, or using the correct email address.

**You will not be able to register or vote if it’s past the Voting deadline.

How does the voting system work?
Fans listen to entered songs & videos on The IMA site. If they think it’s worthy of a nomination they click ‘VOTE’ to register their vote. After the voting process ends, the votes are added up, and the Nominee with the most votes in each category is declared the fan winner.

We use the same rating system for the Fan Nominations as well.

Can I vote for more than 1 Artist?
Absolutely! We encourage you to discover and champion new artists. In fact, the more IMA artists you support, the more points you’ll earn to become an IMA Super Fan. Learn More about Fan Rewards

You can vote in all Song and Music Video categories to NOMINATE Entrants.
You can vote in all Song, Album, EP, Producer, Music Video & Design categories to help determine the Fan Winners.

Can I vote more than once for my favorite Artists?
Nope no ballot box stuffing! However we encourage you to send all the music fans you know to champion IMA Artists.
And you will earn Fan points for every artist they support. (Learn More about Fan Rewards and how to win the IMA Super Fan Award)

Can I change my vote?
Only before you hit the Nominate button. Once you submit your vote you will not be able to change it.

Do I have to vote in every category at once or can I return at a later time?
Yes! We encourage you to return to the Jukebox often to continue exploring new entries.
Simply log in and have at it!

IMA Fan Awards

What is The IMA Fan Award?
An extension of the popular Fan Award, The IMA Super Fan Award celebrates the fan’s role in an independent artist’s success. And helps them connect in an extraordinary way.

The program rewards fans who actively champion IMA artists; and honors the most passionate patron for their outstanding support. Learn More about Fan Rewards and how to win the IMA Super Fan Award.

How does it work?
Fans accumulate points by helping their favorite IMA Artists win a Nomination and/or IMA Fan-Favorite Award.

There are No fees nor credit card required to Nominate an Artist/Band, or to champion an IMA Nominee. However you must register to participate. Click here to Register

IMA Fan members receive:
– A toolkit stocked with promotional materials that make it easy for you to spread the word about IMA artists you are championing.
– Unique affiliate link that keeps track of the points you’ve earned.

What do I win?
Well, in addition to good karma, and special relationship with some cool indie Artists & Bands – you could win an Independent Music Award!
Plus VIP seating & backstage pass at The Independent Music Awards Gala in New York City.

We’re always working on new opportunities to reward extraordinary efforts – so be sure to sign up for the IMAbuzz newsletter so you don’t miss out on any opportunities

What do I have to do?
It’s easy (and fun!) to rack up Fan points…..but First you must register.
It is Free – No credit card required.

Then go to The IMAs online voting platform to discover IMA Artists who need your support to earn a Fan Nomination – or later in the program, Nominees trying to win a Fan-Favorite Award.

There are many ways to earn points -including:
– Listening to songs & watching on The IMAs online voting platform
– Voting for your favorite songs & videos
– Posting your IMA Fan badge on social media sites
– Joining your favorite artists’ mailing list
– Sharing your favorite entries with your friends & social networks
– Sending your friends to register at The IMA site

You’ll earn extra points for every one of your friends who registers at The IMA site.
And for every action they take on behalf of IMA artists.

EARN XTRA BONUS POINTS: Purchase an IMA Gift card to help your favorite artists submit more great work. You can spend as much or as little as you like – earn a point for every dollar you spend on their behalf.

How do I keep track of the points I’ve earned?
No worries. The promotional items in your Fan toolkit have a unique link that automatically registers your interactions on The IMA site. And the actions of every one of the friends you’ve registered. You’ll be able to easily track your progress on your Fan Dashboard.

How will I know if I’ve won?
You will be notified via the email address provided when you registered. It is important to add [email protected] to your approved contacts – and notify us if your contact info changes.

An announcement will also be on our website, in The IMA Buzz Newsletter, and on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

To receive IMA news and updates, click here to sign up for The Buzz newsletter.

And you’ll be in great company: The Super Fan Winner will be announced in March 31, 2018 along with the year’s most exceptional artists and releases!