The second annual YouTube Music Awards are today, but this year’s show is a major departure from last year’s presentation. For their first time at the award show rodeo, YouTube went the traditional route. The show was broadcast live from Pier 36 in New York City. The whole event was produced by legendary music video and film director Spike Jonez and featured an array of awards presentations and performances by some of the year’s buzziest artists in a series of off-the-wall “live music videos” that would have put the Grammys to shame.
The feedback, however, was mixed. While many fans loved the massive show of star power, others felt that the show was a too heavy on mainstream stars and too light on members of YouTube’s vibrant music community.
This year, YouTube — a company that has never been shy about making radical changes — is mixing things up. Gone is the hip venue, the live broadcast, and even the acceptance speeches. In an appropriate twist, this year’s YTMAs will live mostly on online. In fact, the awards themselves have already been presented and the honors dispensed to a variety of artists who created some of the year’s biggest music videos. Instead of a traditional award, YouTube, along with award sponsor Kia, has tapped a ton of emerging artists with a strong YouTube presence to create original music videos in celebration of the platform and its impact on music culture.
It’s a canny move for YouTube, which is aiming to become a major power in the world of streaming music with the arrival of YouTube Music Key. The videos, 13 in all, will be presented in a digital broadcast by YouTube star Tyler Oakley. Oakley will provide a bit of context and color commentary, but the focus is really on the music and on the art of video making. Many music fans hold the internet and YouTube accountable for both the near death of music videos, in the post MTV era, and for the revival of the art form. The inclusion of YouTube views in the Billboard charts have given artists renewed reason to create outstanding videos ushering in a new golden age of essential viewing.
Despite a win for vlogger-turned-synthpop-prince Troye Sivan, this year’s YTMA winners were overwhelmingly mainstream artists. However, the musicians invited to participate in the YTMA’s presentation are a far more YouTube friendly crowd. Many of those participating either built their career on YouTube, like Megan Nicole and Lindsey Stirling, or owe their mainstream success to a YouTube boost like FKA Twigs and Charli XCX.
The full roster includes Action Bronson ft. Chance the Rapper, Cahoots, Charli XCX, Ed Sheeran & Rudimental, FKA twigs, Kygo ft. Parson James, Lindsey Stirling, Martin Garrix ft. Usher, MAX ft. Hoodie Allen, Migos, Megan Nicole, Nicky Jam & Enrique Iglesias and Shamir. The full presentation is embedded above, as is a playlist containing videos from all of this year’s winners.
This version of the YTMA’s may be a little less glamorous, but it feels a lot more true to YouTube’s #TeamInternet spirit.
Share this article and let us know what you think of this year’s YTMAs in the comments below.