If YouTube has proven anything over the past eight years, it’s that humans are big-time voyeurs. And one of the things we like to watch most is music. From a pre-teen Justin Bieber starting a revolution from his bathroom to Psy making the world realize we all love Korean hip-hop, YouTube has launched artists that a few decades ago might never have broken out of their own backyards.
To celebrate that power, the mother of all video platforms announced Tuesday that it would throw its first-ever YouTube Music Awards show on Nov. 3 — on YouTube, of course.
While there’s no immediate threat to the venerable Grammys and cheeky MTV Video Music Awards, the Google-owned company has brought out a few big guns for the inaugural 90-minute show, which will hand out seven awards to nominees who over the past year garnered the biggest slice of YouTube views, shares and other metrics of online love.
Actor Jason Schwartzman will host the program, which will unfold live at Pier 36 in New York; details will be shared later this month on how fans can apply for tickets. Spike Jonze is the show’s creative director. Guests include Eminem, Lady Gaga, Arcade Fire and YouTube-fueled phenomenons such as the music-video collective CDZA and violinist Lindsey Stirling. Other as-yet-unannounced acts will provide taped performances from cities as far-flung as Seoul and Moscow, YouTube’s way of emphasizing the global nature of its audience.
“Our point is to celebrate YouTube’s role in the music ecosystem,” says Danielle Tiedt, the San Bruno, Calif.-based company’s vice president of marketing. “If you think about how most of us encounter music, it’s usually on YouTube, whether it’s stars like Miley Cyrus and her VMA performance or her new Wrecking Ball video, or musicians like Lindsey (Stirling), who broke thanks to our site.”
Nominees for the seven awards will be announced Oct. 17. Winners will be chosen by fans vote. And just what will a YouTube Music Award statuette look like? Let’s see, the gramophone and spaceman are taken, so how about a smartphone etched with a YouTube logo?
“That’s still a surprise,” says Tiedt.