YouTube hopes to boost music profile with new awards show

Reuters

By Luciana Lopez

NEW YORK, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Does the world really needanother music video awards show? The answer is yes - at leastaccording to YouTube.

The online video-sharing site is rolling out its firstYouTube Music Awards on Sunday, with a show that pairsestablished industry stars such as Lady Gaga and Arcade Firealong with performers from the Google-owned video site.

The show will boost YouTube's profile just weeks before thesite is expected to announce a subscription service that willcompete in an already crowded music marketplace.

"On a practical level (YouTube has) put people on the mapand it's generated revenue or other resources like support orrecognition from people that normally would not get theexposure," said Reggie Watts, a performance artist who, alongwith actor Jason Schwartzman, will host the event.

The awards categories are limited but clearly meant todifferentiate the YouTube awards from the Grammys or the MTVMusic Video Awards, which grabbed attention this year after araunchy performance by former Disney star Miley Cyrus as shetransitions into a more adult career.

YouTube will also name a video of the year and an artist ofthe year, with a slate of nominees including Justin Bieber,Selena Gomez, Eminem, Katy Perry and other top-40 mainstays.

But the categories also range more broadly. "Response of theYear" will pick the best fan remix, parody or response. Othercategories include YouTube phenomenon, breakthrough andinnovation of the year.

Even the show's structure aims for something a littledifferent. Watts said he and co-host Schwartzman know theoverall sequence of the events but don't know the blow-by-blowof what will happen at the Spike Jonze-directed show.

"We have no clue what's going to happen," he said. "All youcan do in the moment is perform."

The awards show will stream live from New York on Sundaystarting at 6 p.m. (2200 GMT).

YouTube has positioned itself in recent years as a majorsource of new music videos for fans. Lady Gaga alone has rackedup well over 1 billion views of her various videos.

The shift highlights some of the challenges - andopportunities - for artists. While accessing fans has never beeneasier, turning a profit and making a living as a musician hasbecome more challenging.

Sites such as YouTube effectively function as on-demandstations for music, with fans able to listen to play lists overand over just for watching the occasional commercial.

YouTube is expected to introduce an option by the end of theyear to let music fans skip the commercials via a paidsubscription service.

That would pit YouTube more directly against services suchas the online music streaming Web service Spotify, which itselfhas had its share of musicians such as Radiohead's Thom Yorkewho criticize the company's business model for squeezingartists.

Into all of this comes the awards show, which will showcasethe abundance of changes in the music industry.

The show is "about a certain level of discovery," Wattssaid. "It's going to be an experiment on all levels."

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