Reports of an award show line-up with Lady Gaga, Arcade Fire and Eminem signaled an exciting new venture yesterday (September 30) for, arguably, the new home for music listening worldwide: YouTube announced the recruitments for its first Music Awards. From what is so far revealed by YouTube executives, the creative director of the 'unconventional' award ceremony will be Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) and Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore, Slackers) will host the 90-minute event scheduled to air on November 3. The winners in six categories will be determined by YouTube users (good luck with that) and announced in October, which leaves a lot to wonder about the format of the show.
YouTube's power is not apocryphal; it certainly has the platform and the validity to pull off a popular award show, especially with the declining importance of a plethora of other award shows galore. YouTube executives may be onto something here by trying something new. The show, according to the press release, will be interactively creative and hopes to break conventional rules of a stereotypical award ceremony. Nice, but easier said than done.
There are some warning signals: At this point, watching Lady Gaga in yet another award show is perhaps as exciting a prospect as brushing one's teeth and what more could Eminem really tell us about his 'poor rich kid' addiction furies? Arcade Fire aside, YouTube's first tactical error is announcing to break conventional wisdom about award shows with a conventional line-up. As powerful as the video platform is, the effort to cut in line right before the award season piles up statuettes from American Music Awards to the Grammys, is a bold move. That's another way of saying: This better be good!
Award shows have been challenging for good reason; the struggling music industry can only revive itself every now and then with a Cirque Du MTV and can barely tolerate to broadcast the Grammy Awards without praying for a spectacle to bolster the ratings. Even academic studies indicate that a shrinking industry may find it more and more difficult to congratulate itself with award shows that leave very little to the meandering attention spans of the day.
YouTube is front in line when it comes to distributing new music, not to mention its impact on being the linchpin in spreading classic catalogs. The company's importance is rivaled only by Apple, which can also be pointed out as a tremendous player in the field of music. What remains to be seen is how the world of 'Gangnam Stylin' Harlem Shakes' will balance itself out with honoring legitimate musical works in yet another award show that's thrown to be rewarded by the roaring anonymity of (mostly) insouciant YouTube users. Monetarily speaking, YouTube is already rewarding the 'trending' videos such as Gangnam Style handsomely; the song has reportedly made close to 8 million USD for its creators. If this is any indication as to where the YouTube Music Awards are going, style over substance will set another example that sends all the wrong signals to revive a struggling music industry. Hopefully, YouTube will use it's exceptional power to reward musicians appropriately, provided the ones getting the awards are actual musicians.
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