All hail the juggernaut! YouTube, which has already transformed how the young and Internet-savvy consume music, is expanding its spidery reach into the realm of awards shows. Jason Schwartzman will host the inaugural YouTube Music Awards from Pier 39 in New York City on Nov. 3, and you’ll never guess where you can see the live stream.
Wait, that’s your answer? Are you sure? Because it could be anything, and once you’re locked in, there’s no going- fine, it’s YouTube. Lucky guess.
The event, directed by music video guru Spike Jonze, will feature live performances from Lady Gaga, Arcade Fire and Eminem, among others. They’ll honor seven winners in as-yet-unnamed categories, all of them chosen by an online vote. It’ll take some work to compete with institutions like the Grammys and the MTV Video Music Awards, but YouTube has arguably created the most democratic format in awards show history: Viewers choose the winners based on nominees that garnered YouTube popularity by virtue of repeated views. Which is sort of like an online vote in the first place. It’s double democracy!
There are other advantages to this format, the most obvious of which is that the show will be a truly live experience, with all the excitement and anticipation that involved. There’s no broadcast delay, and you’d have to imagine that tv’s censorship rules won’t apply. Anything could happen, including Win Butler entering a freestyle battle with Eminem, or Jason Schwartzman reprising a Rushmore scene by releasing bees into the audience, or Lady Gaga covering “Morning Dew,” her unauthorized Bad Lip Reading song featuring Jay-Z and Bruno Mars (not appearing).
Okay, none of that will happen, but it could, and that’s kind of the point. We’re in for an unpredictable experience—possibly raw, definitely risky—with mega-famous performers, and the whole thing will be incredibly conducive to an ongoing social media conversation. For better or worse, this is right up our alley.
International performances from far-flung locales like Brazil, Seoul, London and Moscow will serve as appetizers for the 90-minute main event, and Jonze’s goal at Pier 39 is to “try to make live music videos throughout the night” using various sets within the warehouse. Nominees will be announced in mid-October, and voting will be open until the start of the show. And now I’m going to put my professional reputation on the line by making a wild, maverick prediction: “Gangnam Style” will win something.