YouTube Music Awards to Return, but Ditch the Awards-Show Format

Vice to Produce, Kia to Sponsor

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YouTube is bringing back its YouTube Music Awards for a second go. But unlike last year's event, the sophomore outing won't be a live awards show. It won't be an awards show at all.

Instead of putting on an elaborate show wrangling diverse performers in a big space on Manhattan's East River -- last year's model -- this time, on an unspecified day in March, YouTube will stream a bunch of music videos that YouTube viewers will be able to help create in some way. Vice -- which last week announced an upcoming digital music site with Live Nation -- will be producing the content, and Kia has signed on to return as the event's sponsor.

A representative from YouTube's external PR agency confirmed that there will be no live event and that more details of YouTube's plans will be made available in January.

In the lead-up to the March stream, YouTube will post music videos from various artists like Megan Nicole and GD X TAEYANG to its dedicated Music Awards channel. There will also be a Kia-branded channel that will stream surprise live performances from acts such as Weezer and produced by Show Cobra.

Observers of last year's YouTube Music Awards may not be surprised that the Google-owned video service is moving away from the live awards show concept. The morning after last year's livestream, Ad Age counted fewer than 900,000 views of the full event's video despite a huge production that seemed intended to rival TV forerunners like the MTV Music Video Awards. More than a year later, YouTube's archived full-event video counts 4.6 million views. It has also notched more than 54 million views in the past year, YouTube said, when aggregating the shorter clips cut from the show and posted on YouTube later.

The inaugural YouTube Music Awards show, which was directed by Spike Jonze, was also a bit all over the place. That randomness made sense considering the bootstrapped nature of traditional YouTube videos and was in keeping with the show's goal of creating a bunch of live music videos. While not everyone was a fan of how that came across -- YouTube star Philip DeFranco called it "embarrassing" -- it appears YouTube thought enough people liked it to resurrect the spontaneous spirit, if not the awards show format, for Vol. 2.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article said The Shhhow would be one of the acts to perform on Kia's branded channel. The Shhhow is actually the name of the series.

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