YouTube will stage its first awards show of any kind on Sunday, entering the crowded field of music awards shows with the YouTube Music Awards.
The video behemoth has given Spike Jonze near-complete creative freedom to orchestrate the festivities, which comedians Jason Scwartzmann and Reggie Watts will co-host.
Jonze has decided that he will shoot each performer, a group that includes Eminem, Arcade Fire and Lindsey Stirling, as if it were a music video.
That has made for a frantic week of preparations, but TheWrap spoke with YouTube’s marketing chief Danielle Tiedt about the company’s first awards show.
So why did YouTube want to stage an awards show?
I’ve been asking myself that question all day. [Laughs]. We’ve been thinking about it for a couple years. The time just seemed right. There have been a lot of changes in the music industry and the music landscape. The time just seemed right to celebrate YouTube’s role in the ecosystem and bring the fan to the center.
What is YouTube’s role?
YouTube plays a lot of roles in that ecosystem today. Billboard just took views into account for their rankings. We saw Baauer, who has been around forever, go to the top as soon as “Harlem Shake” came out. We are defining what is hot or not.
Our other role is putting the fan at the center of what they listen to. People want more and more control over when and how they listen.
Google has data for everything. Do you know who is voting for the awards? Whether it’s the fans of a Lindsey Stirling or those of mainstream artists?
One of the crazy things you see is how big the global viewing audience is. We had five shows leading up to New York and if you look at the voting you see Thailand and the Philippines are voting like crazy.
We have a disproportionate numbers of views from the Philippines. That’s a huge thing for people like Lindsey Stirling to be able to reach a global audience.
When I spoke with Stirling earlier this week, she pointed out that there’s still a stigma against “YouTube stars” like her. Can this show help with that?
The difference is mainstream fame, and a big part of the show is how do we help get more promotion around the independent artists born and bred on YouTube? How do we make those voices that are so popular with so many people heard by a wider community.
Spike Jonze is shooting the performances like music videos. What are you going to do with those videos?
After the live stream, they will be available like all other YouTube videos. All viewership that happens after the show is as important as the live stream.
How motivated is YouTube to stream live programming? Awards shows, sporting events – these are the province of television?
Live is a huge part of the platform. We have a self-service feature for creators. Any creator who wants to do live programming can. It’s a big area of investment for us. Not all things make sense, but there are times where you want to be part of the water cooler moment. That has to be a big part of how we think about the future.
So NFL rights in 2017?
For those of you that are into that kind of thing. [Laughs].