Last week, YouTube and Google presented the YouTube Music Awards in New York City.
The global live-streamed event was billed as one where “nominees were selected based purely on YouTube data from the last 12 months”.
While reviews have been mixed, one thing is for certain, the awards have broken the glitzy, high-production value model of traditional broadcast television awards shows and embraced a chaotic, ‘lo-fi’ vibe, delivered across multiple social media platforms.
Unscripted and largely unrehearsed, the live-streamed event ran just short of its scheduled one and a half hours and veered from musical highlights to awkward silences.
Amidst post-show analysis one thing is undeniable: this is not the Grammys.
In the words of Jon Caramanica in his New York Times article of November 4, the awards "effectively embraced the values of the post-hierarchical creative ecosystem of the Internet: a theoretically equal playing field, risk taking, resilience in the face of failure, evanescence".
So what did the public have to say on the matter?
If you search Google for “YouTube Music Awards”, you will immediately be struck by a common set of terms in the search results: weird, mess, unprofessional, chaos.
It is common, in some cases, for a few of these words to carry a positive connotation. Take for instance Lady Gaga, who appeared on the awards show. She might appreciate her costumes being referred to as “weird” or “chaotic.”
But directed toward the production of the awards show itself, these descriptors were anything but positive. By all accounts, it appears that the show was meant to be an unscripted ‘stream of consciousness’ style affair.
Here is what a few Australians had to say about the awards:
At first glance, however, it appears that the YouTube Music Awards resonated with the Australian audience; it generated more than 15,000 total tweets with more than 5,000 occurring on the day of the show.
Upon digging deeper into the tweets, however, it becomes obvious that very few of these tweets reveal any sort of rich fan sentiment (except for a few of the sarcastically indifferent comments like the ones provided above).
On a positive note, an inkling of interest exists among the Australian audience; so if Google and YouTube decide to try again next year, they do have something to work with. For instance, one third of all tweets (or about 5300 messages) contain the phrase “I voted,” meaning that Australians do care about helping their favourite bands win awards.
In fact, Australians may have played a big role in helping the K-Pop group Girl's Generation take home the video of the year award for their song I Got a Boy.
So while the powers that be are conducting their post mortems and crunching the numbers it does seem that the YouTube Music Awards have a long way to go before they challenge the mainstream. Did the show break new ground? Not entirely. In effect the end result was something of a mash-up between home video and the MTV Music Awards.
For better or worse, social media has redefined the music business model. YouTube viewers are a powerful force in music marketing, but it is still too early to tell if the YouTube Music Awards will become a new mainstay of the industry