Hi Folks,

This is the place to ask any questions and hopefully find the answers you need concerning the 2008/2009 Just Plain Folks Music Awards. We are officially starting the entry process today, February 2nd, 2008. I will be inserting an extensive FAQ about the awards here in the next few days and we'll be announcing it all in the newsletter this week as well. For the current info available, please check out the home page. Watch this page for updates and more info as it is available.
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2008-2009 Just Plain Folks Music Awards Officially Launches!

Music Awards 2008-2009 FAQ and Guidelines:

Here we go again! After a world record setting music awards program in 2005-2006 we are ready to start the process for 2008-2009. The program has grown beyond our wildest dreams and we expect this 6th Awards cycle to rise to the high levels set by previous years and then some. For a great article on a previous Awards process and Awards Show, we've posted a PDF file of a great Singer Magazine article which really summarizes the program very well (with some cool pictures of awards nominees and winners included). Here's the link to view the file: http://jpfolks.com/AwardsArticle.pdf

Because it will be difficult to continue on our growth pattern of the last 10 years, we have some specific guidelines and rules we think will keep the process under control and still make for another great Awards process this time around.

To start off with, any music that has been sent to us since last Awards deadline which wasn't squeezed in last time will be included for 2008-2009. (That includes roughly 1000 Albums already). All the music posted on our site in our database currently was entered for 2006 and is not eligible for 2008-2009. Please do not resubmit any music which has previously been entered. We'll repeat that again later in this FAQ. If you aren't sure if you entered a particular album previously, you can check to see if you've already entered by visiting our Awards section on the website and scroll to the database at the bottom. All the albums from the last 5 awards cycles are listed there. If your album shows up on that list, it's not eligible for re-entry. On the other hand, if it isn't listed and has never been nominated previously, then you can enter it. Here's a direct link to the Awards page: http://www.jpfolks.com/MusicAwards/index.html

We reserve the right to make ANY changes we feel necessary to these guidelines without advanced notice. Remember, we do this work for free, and if we need to make an adjustment, we'll post it on line and in the newsletter, but we aren't responsible for any problems that may cause you. If your music isn't considered this year for some reason, we can always consider it the next time.
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Official Entry Period:

Now through August 31st for music released before August 31st, 2008.

September 1st-December 31st for music released in that time frame only.

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Who is eligible to enter:

You must be a Just Plain Folks Member to enter.

This means the artist on the CD and/or the writers of the song(s) entered or both. We allow managers, producers, publishers etc.. to enter their artists but those artists also need to be signed up as a member and we need their contact info included.

If you are not currently an active member, it's simple to join. Just visit our homepage at www.jpfolks.com/home.html and enter your email address in the appropriate box after clicking the JOIN button on the top left hand side. Once you join, you are eligible to enter the music awards.

As long as you are an active member of Just Plain Folks, you can enter any music which hasn't previously been entered into our awards program. It doesn't matter if you are entry level or you've had major hits. We've had both types of artists/writers win awards. If you are part of our community and membership, we welcome your entry. You CAN be signed to a label and you CAN be signed to a publishing deal. Please just be sure your label or publisher has no problem with you entering.

All genres/types of music are welcome. (more on that below).
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How to submit: Where to send, what to include, what to do, what not to do.

Note: We will be accepting digital entries via CD Baby ONLY in March of 2008. If you miss their offer then you must enter your music following the guidelines below.

Only active members of Just Plain Folks are eligible to enter. If you are a representative for an artist or writer, we also need the contact info for the artist themselves to consider them. We welcome management, publicists, labels, etc., to enter their artists.. but it's still a member awards program. Membership is free. If your artist has a problem with being an official member, don't enter them!

Send your CD only (we can't accept Cassette Tapes or any other format with the exception of Video. (see details on that later)

Your submission MUST include the following info ON your CD and Liner Notes:

Full Name of person submitting.
Your position if not the artist or a member of the band (i.e., publicist, label, producer, etc.).
Phone Number
Email Address
Full Mailing Address: (Street Address, City, State, Country)
Website (if Applicable)

This info MUST be included on the CD itself (preferred) or on the liner notes/case. Feel free to neatly print it on the CD with a sharpie if you'd like. Remember, we want to recognize your music.. but to do that we need to know who it is. Each year we've had to pass on nominating some music because we couldn't determine who the artist was. When we receive CD's,. they are immediately logged and separated from their cases and any documents they come with. If your CD doesn't list the name of your band/artist and the title of the album, please write that information on the CD with a sharpie otherwise you risk us not knowing who you are no matter how much paper info you send. We do make an effort to write this info on the CD's ourselves, but it's better not to take the chance right?
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Optional Info to Include:

You are welcome to send your press kit, but it isn't required. If you want to indicate specific tracks for consideration, you are welcome to, but we often nominate tracks different from those flagged by the artists themselves. Also, you are welcome to suggest what genre you feel your music falls into, but we VERY often place music based on a criteria/definition which may not fit your idea. Suggesting a genre helps more if your music is in an unusual/less common genre, but less if it is mainstream or more common genre. If you include this info, it's best to write it on the CD itself with a sharpie. Again, this info is optional, but welcomed.
Also, if you have "hidden" tracks at the end of your CD (i.e., with lots of blank space before it) we can easily miss those tracks, so please indicate that so we don't miss it. We rarely have the CD track notes available when the music is screened so we just hit play and when the CD appears to be over that's it.

VERY IMPORTANT: Please do NOT send each song on its own CD. Combine all your entries into 1. This means if you are sending 7 song demos, place them all on 1 CD, not 7 CD's with 1 song each. You can send more than 1 album, but please condense all those demos to 1 or 2 CD's. We had someone send us 30 CD's last year with 1 song each. It's a waste of time for both parties to do it that way.
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How to verify we have your music?

In the last awards process, we received over 25,000 finished albums and a lot more single and multi song demos. Because of the volume, we can't respond to each person to confirm we have your entry. However, after we check all the music in, we will post the complete listing of ALL the Albums/Entries we have on hand. If your entry isn't there, we have a friendly built in grace period to rectify problems or missing entries. We're nice that way. So PLEASE be patient and don't pester us to verify your entry. If you simply MUST know.. send us a check for $1000 dollars and we'll talk. (okay.. I'm kidding.. $100 would do...)
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How and Where do you send your entry:

NEVER send your entry to us with a signature required. We will likely refuse it. Since we travel a great deal, we can't always be here to sign for something. Don't waste your money! Also, be sure there is no postage due. We will refuse any entries with postage due. You can send your entry Fed Ex, UPS, or regular mail or other provider, but remember our deadlines are always based on Postmark dates, so there's no need to waste the money on an overnight package or priority type mail unless we request it for some reason. (Sometimes we'll need a replacement CD quickly or if we find something which an industry person wants a copy of, we may need a second copy.) Please be sure that your CD works BEFORE you send it. We got over 200 bad CD's last year. We make a reasonable effort to request another.. but frankly it's a pain in the ass. If you are sending a CDR, that is fine.. just check it start to finish first so we don't waste our time on a bad CD.

Once you have your CD ready to go with all the requested info, mail it to:

Just Plain Folks
5327 Kit Drive
Indianapolis, IN 46237

(Note: This is a NEW ADDRESS. Please do not send your entry anywhere else!)

We do not return CDs. EVER. Do not ask us to return it. Even with enclosed SASE we won't return it. It's just too difficult because we separate the CDs from their cases/mailing materials at the time of check in and it might take several weeks or months before we screen it the first time. We do have all CDs on file here (we have over 50,000 in our archive). REPEAT: We do NOT return CDs or any other material you send us.
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What Genres of Music Do We Award?

That's a great question but one we don't know ourselves until we screen all the entries. We give out awards based on the music received. As a rule of thumb, if we have at least 20 Quality Album entries in a given Genre and/or 100 Quality Song entries, we generally have a category for it in the awards. (Last year in some cases we had over 2000 albums and over 30K songs in a given genre at the top end...). If we don't have enough entries for a specialized genre, we generally include the great music into a genre that most closely approximates it. If you are worried that your unusual genre might not be considered, keep in mind that the opportunities for recognition are actually greater for excellent music in less common genres than great music that is competing with thousands of others in a more common genre.

Here are the 81 genres we recognized in 2006. We may add or subtract based on the music that we give.

A Cappella, African, Alternative, Ambient, Americana, Asian, Bluegrass, Blues, Cabaret, Cajun/Zydeco, Caribbean, Celtic, Celtic Instrumental, Children's, Children's Storytelling, Classical Concerto, Classical Chamber, Classical Orchestral, Classical Voice/Opera Solo, Classical Voice/Opera Choral, Classical Soloist, College Rock, Comedy, Compilation, Contemporary, Contemporary Christian, Country, Cover/Tribute, Dance, Educational, Electronica, European, Experimental, Female Singer-Songwriter, Gospel, Hard Rock, Hawaiian, Holiday, Indiana Classical, Indian Contemporary, Industrial, Instrumental, Instrumental Jazz, Jewish, Klezmer, Latin, Live, Male Singer-Songwriter, Metal, Middle Eastern, Modern Rock, Native American, New Age, World, New Folk, Novelty, Polka, Pop, Punk, R&B, Rap, Reggae, Rock, Rock Instrumental, Rockabilly, Roots, Roots Instrumental, Salsa, Self Help/Meditation, Solo Guitar, Solo Piano, Solo Instrumental (Non Piano/Guitar), Soundtrack, South & Central American, Spoken Word, Storytelling, Surf, Techno, Theater/Stage, Traditional Folk, Vocal Jazz & World.

In addition, we had categories for Best Video and Best Lyric. Note: The Lyric award is a separate entry process which is conducted on the website ONLY. We will announce the guidelines for entry for Best Lyric later in the year and it will be conducted in late 2008 to coincide with the rest of the awards nominations process.

We also give out Founders awards for Song of the Year, Album of the Year, Male and Female Artist of the Year, Group of the Year, Male, Female and Group Vocals of the Year, Producer of the Year, Lyricist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Live Artist of the Year, Horizon Artist and so on. (It changes slightly year to year).

Helpful Suggestion: If you write/perform music that doesn't fit any of the above genres, it would be helpful in your case if you indicate your genre on your CD. We didn't find any music last year that didn't fit into one of the above genres, but we are happy to add new ones (or even create new genres as we have in the past) if we have enough quality entries.
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How does the process work?

We change and adjust the program each year as we find ways to improve it. Here is the general idea/outline we used for last year. Some of these steps are dependent on the amount of music we get which we won't know until after the deadline this year.

Based on last year:

Round 1: The initial round of screening has 2 goals:

1. To weed out the bottom 33% of the music entered.

2. To place the music into genres so that it can be screened by experts in each field.

Music can be moved several times (especially those albums entered that have songs from multiple genres). But to make the process possible, we need a starting point and the first round allows us to group together albums with similarities or clear cut genres so we can do focused screening with people who have experience with that type of music.

Round 2 is comparative listening. Since all the CD's are separated by general genre, we start comparing them to each other. CD's which are clearly outstanding get passed straight on to round 3. Everything else is carefully screened and we generally filter out another 33% in this stage based on how high the bar is for that given genre.

Round 3 is when individual songs are flagged for possible song nomination consideration. Some albums can have nearly every song flagged The criteria is already starting to get high, but by the end of this round, we'll still have an enormous number of songs flagged. When in doubt on a song (or when multiple screeners disagree).. it gets flagged and moved forward.

Round 4 is when we start to narrow the songs down and also when we flag specific albums for album nomination consideration. Obviously albums with a lot of songs being considered are more likely to be nominated for an album award. Because of the notes we take during the process, sometimes by the end an album might have no individual songs nominated, but it might have had 5-6 in the running during the process. Our previous Album of the Year winners had most of their songs flagged for individual consideration.

Round 5 is when we have focused filtering of songs against songs. We will generally bring in a new batch of experts in each given genre as well. We could still have hundreds of albums and hundreds of songs in the running for a nomination at this stage.

Round 6 is when we whittle the songs down to the nominations. This is often the hardest segment of the process. Usually there are 50-80 worthy songs in a large genre that each have gotten a lot of support from judges throughout the process. This is where judgment calls and opinions and tastes of the judges are tested the most. (And the most heated arguments take place.) We will usually try to recognize diversity within the nominations. For example, if there are 10 totally great songs of a very specific style, we might only take the very top 5 of that style within a given genre so that there is room to recognize other approaches and styles within that same genre. (That's just a hypothetical example.) This is also the round where genres are finalized. We don't fit songs into genres. We fit the genres around the collection of songs. That is why it shifts from one year to the next. Once we have a similar collection of great songs, we determine it fits a named genre the best. Genres are NEVER an exact science and at any given time one song might fit into 3-4-5 different genres based on 5 different opinions. If we have a killer song that really deserves recognition in a crowded category, we try hard to find a home for it in the nominations somewhere. After all, our goal is to recognize great music. The more the merrier.

Once round 6 is done (whew!) we announce the nominations and set the final voting into gear. Last year we used roughly 8000 judges in the final round of judging alone. This group is made up of the following:

01. Industry Professionals (Producers, Engineers, Labels, Publishers, Managers, Media, Educators, etc.)
02. General JPF Member/Peer Songwriters/Artists
03. Music Fans with no industry/artist/writer background/experience

Our judges only have 1 criteria to address when voting:

Does the music move you?

Each judge picks their top 5 favorite songs in a given genre from 1st through 5th. The song with the most votes wins. We announce the top 6 places in the song categories.

The albums are more complicated and we use industry/mentor/peer and staff judges only on those because of logistics. We do judge albums on production, songwriting, performance, arrangement as well as how much it moves us overall. We use all the notes taken on the album during the process to assist on the album results.

Once the results are tabulated (usually just a few days before we hand out the awards) we order the trophies and try to stay awake long enough the get through the awards, since we rarely sleep the 3 months before they are announced in Southern California each time.
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How long does the entire process take?

We actually don't know. We will spend exactly the amount of time it takes to do it right. In the first 2 years the process lasted 1 calendar year. in 2002, it took us 15 months. In 2004, we spent about 17 months on the process. In 2006 we spent 18 months. Since we are doing a lot of the awards digitally via CD Baby, we're hoping that we can get the process done a little more quickly this time around, even with a greater number of entries. Our target goal is to have nominations announced in early 2009 and the awards ceremony in the spring of 2009. That's assuming, of course, we don't get 50,000 albums and 700,000 songs. = )
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What do you win?

This thing keeps growing and gaining attention. It is likely a lot of cool things will happen for the nominees and winners which we can't even imagine right now after the success of last year. However, as it stands, here's my spiel on it:

It's a free awards program. It may be the only awards program in the world that exists solely to recognize great music without any commercial influence/goals/payoff to anyone involved and with the least amount of bias (good or bad) humanly possible. We generally have sponsors to help cover some of the enormous costs associated with doing this free, but because we don't charge to enter, we don't give out large cash prizes. Your music is judged blindly and on merit only. We give out an awards trophy to each winner (whether they are present at the awards show or not) and certificates to the finalists who are present at the awards in each genre which we announce at the show. We also post the winners on the website and supply the names and info to the press and any interested industry member. We often have additional promotional prizes from our community partners and new opportunities to promote the winners in very cool ways, but it's not something we publicize to gain entries, because we're not trying to make money on this... just recognize great music that otherwise might not get the recognition it deserves. We think that is what it SHOULD be all about.

We've had #1 artists, #1 writers, hit songs, hit albums and every other extreme win awards in the past. The greatest thing about our awards is that you are competing with people on a totally unbiased basis and that includes some of the very best writers and artists in the world. No one gets an unfair advantage over anyone else. Our judges rarely even know who the nominees actually are until we post the final list and then check out the nominees along with everyone else later.

Here's a list of some prominent previous nominees and award winners (it even includes a prominent current American Idol contestant): Previous winners and nominees have included well known label and talented indie acts like They Might Be Giants, Janis Ian, Tiffany, Dennis DeYoung, Andrew Gold, Johnsmith, Susan Gibson, Jonell Mosser, Steadman, Rachael Sage, Michael Jonathon, The McKrells, Consolidated, The Kurstins, Mary Gauthier, Wishing Chair, Jennifer Marks, Jennie DeVoe, Michelle Malone, David Lamotte, Mindless Faith, SMP, Bob Malone, Erika Luckett, Cindy Alexander, Kerry Getz, Michael Manring, Vicki Genfan, Seth Horan, Noelle Hampton, Collide, Jody Whitesides, Kate McDonnell, Kristy Jackson, Matt Hamovitz, Leslie Ritter and Scott Petito, Cheley Tackett, Don Campbell, Tim Grimm, Soul Seekers, Freebo, Dave Nachmanoff, Peter Mayer, Marc VonEm, Willie Nelson, Lori McKenna, John Beland, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Jim Photoglo, Dave Mackenzie, E.G. Kight, Myshkin, John Margolis, Zoe Lewis, Harold Payne, Adie Grey, Eric Colville, Carbon Leaf, April McClean, Pepper MeShay, Dave Pahanish, Dave Potts, Tammy Edwards, Melody Guy, Steve Fox, Eclipse, Zen for Primates, Faith Rivera, David Z, NASA, L.A. Carpool, Lisa Haley, Kris Delmhorst, Anne McCue, Deb Talen, KJ Denhart, Jenny Bruce, Karen Ires, Ahmad Jamal, Wild Mango, Severin Browne, Steve Tannen, Greg Tannen, Grant Lee Phillips, Stan Ridgway, Holly Figueroa, Steve Seskin, Nancy Moran, Gary jules, Joe Rathburn, Throwing Toasters, Carla Ulbrich, Alan O'Day, Brooke Ramel, Amber Brooke, Sekou (tha Misfit), Ta-Ta, Ordinary Peoples, Spookie Daly Pride, Amelia White, Dave Carter, Tracy Grammer, Mark Erelli, Richard Berman, Craig Carothers, Spook Handy, Shandy Lawson, Ali Handal, Jennifer Tefft, Tomo Iwakura, Tom Kell and the Mission, Rivertribe, Amy Speace, Colleen McFarland, Muriel Anderson, Bayne Gibby, David M. Bailey, Bird York, Cynthia Biggs, Celldweller, SKAMP, Jane Jensen, Rachel Stamp, Liz Larin, Danielle Lo Presti, Martha's Trouble, Keith Sykes, David Olney, Eve Selis, Cary Cooper, Jo-EL Sonnier, Ina May Wool, The Poxy Boggards, Bonnie Rideout, Beethoven's Wig, Zak Morgan, Billy Jonas, The Animators, Bicycle Thieves, Lazlo Bane, Single, Fisher, Vienna Teng, Colin Hay, Jag Star, Jay Graydon, The Dreamsicles, The Kennedys, Kate Taylor, Marina V, Jenny Toomey, Melissa Ferrick, Kristy Kruger, Sara Hickman, Sam Shaber, Jill Sissel, Charlotte Martin, Carole Fredericks, The Soul Stirrers, Buzz Poets, Jimi Hazel, The Tokens, Michael Allen Harrison, Tito Puente Jr., James Lee Stanley, Kenny Edwards, Gabriel Mann, Peter Himmelman, Jack Tempchin, Scottish McMillan, Brother Luke, Two Loons For Tea, Paul Kamm and Eleanor MacDonald, Kevin Meany, Diane Zeigler, Danny Schmidt, Bill Danoff, Greg Tamblyn, Jeddrah, St. Paul, Cary Cooper, Sheila Marshall, Travis Larson Band, Adrienne Young, The Hot Club of Cowtown, John Davis, Preston Reed, Minton Sparks, Brooke Fox, Sony Holland, Eric Schwartz, David Peterson & 1946, Karen Bentley, Gretchen Peters, Russell Smith, Les San Culottes, Brendon Cassidy, Nina Storey, Angela Johnson, Groove Society, Darrell Scott, Mari Iijima, The Merritts, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Robby Benson, The Bicycle Men, The Saw Doctors, Prodigals, Bad Haggis, An Dochas, Vertical Horizon, Art Garfunkle, Steve Dorff, Cris Williamson, Lowen & Navvaro, BoyMeetsGirl, Ali Matthews, The Mamasitas, Mal Rodgers, Templeton Thompson, Jude Johnstone, P. Hux, Jimmy Bowskill, Jeremy Cohen, Mark Wood, The Innocence Mission, Supertweaker/Solamingus, Daniele Groff, Perry Botkin Jr., Jo Davidson, Amy Fairchild, John William Davis, Steve White, The Gypsy Hombres, Die Warzau, Donal Hinely, Nils Jiptner, Craig Taubman, Julie Silver, Cecilia Nol & the Wild Clams, Jim Gaffigan, Matthew Lee, Tom Kimmel, Tom Prasada-Rao, Nils Lofgren, Jim Femino, Grayson Wells, Gor Mkhitarian, The Hoo-Hah Conspiracy, Autumn's Child, Lou & Peter Berryman, Fast & Dirty, Jessy Moss, Danielle McKee, Peeland-Z, Ace, Sir Mix A Lot & DJ Girl 6, Biggie Irie, Jasmine Cain, Danielia Cotton, Samsara, Square, Entrain, The Dempseys, Kate Campbell, Poco, Victor Hugo, Woody Mann, Laurel Zucker, Richard Freitas, Queen Sheba, Tom Neilson, The Atlantics, Zircon, Christine Lavin, Lawrence Smith, Kim McLean, Techung, Kiki & Herb, Jamie Laval, Dr. Floyd's Radio Adventures, Aaron Rosand, Ransom Wilson, Hover Chamber Choir of Armenia, Spin 66, Mike Birbiglia, Solovox, Hungry March Band, Anne Heaton, Gandalph Murphy, Harry Manx, Bryndle, Kacey Jones, 50 Foot Wave, The Dazz Band, Andy Offut Irwin, Autorickshaw, The Sawdoctors, Storm Large and the Balls, Chris Young and Michael John's band Film.

We also feature the winners and nominees and recognize them at events, showcases and gatherings throughout the year and beyond. When possible we give extra performance time to finalists at JPF Roadtrip showcases. We also plan to place some winners and finalists on compilation CD's (only with their permission of course). It's also very common for our industry judges to find artists and writers they want to work with during the screening process. We've had a lot of success stories crop up this way, but we can't promise anyone that will happen and often those industry folks like to remain anonymous, so we don't make a big deal out of it to the group at large.

So if being recognized in what has become the worlds largest music awards program of any kind is something you'd like to shoot for, you've come to the right place. But remember, last year we had 350,000 songs and 25,573 albums entered and only 67 songs and 81 albums won a first place award. The bar is VERY high and I assure you there were far more than 67 amazing, hit quality songs and 81 outstanding albums submitted. So always keep any awards program in perspective.
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Best Video Award is renewed for 2008-2009!

Last year we tried a new category, Best Member Music Video. The Video's that made it to nominations were all outstanding (as good as anything we've seen on any video channel) (in fact, several of them WERE on the big video channels) and we're looking forward to doing it again and seeing it grow. We will accept video entries in DVD format ONLY!

We will also consider having these categories in the Video section of the Awards (if there are enough quality entries):

1. Best Promotional Video: This would be for band/artist promo's. We got several outstanding ones last year and if we get enough quality entries this year, we may give them their own category.

2. Best Short Form Video: This would be for single song length videos.

3. Best Live Video: This would be for feature length videos (i.e. for concerts videos)

4. Best Feature Film: This would be for any other feature length movie we receive

You can send as many videos as you like in, but please be sure to include all your contact info on each Disc just as you would for music entries. If you are sending an entry from outside the US, please be sure it is playable on a US machine.

Last year we held special screenings for the nominated videos and also did the final voting at a pre awards event. It was a BLAST! So our plan is to do that again on an even larger scale.
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If you have any questions about these guidelines, or think of something we missed, please post them here. You can also email us directly at jpnotes@aol.com and place "Awards Question" in the subject field. Thanks and good luck!
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Looking forward to hearing all the great music being made by our community once again!

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@aol.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney
Facebook: www.facebook.com/justplainfolks

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney

"It's easier to be the bigger man when you actually are..."

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