Shouldn’t Homegrown YouTube Stars Be Winning YouTube Awards?

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Photo via pitchfork

It’s common knowledge that YouTube changed the world. Created in 2005 by three former PayPal employees, the video-sharing platform radically transformed the cultural landscape. For the first time, anybody with a camera could create art that had the potential to be seen by millions of people.

Before this, people were basically forced to listen to what they were told to listen to. The major labels controlled what ended up in front of you, mainly via the radio. An independent artist had no recourse. You were either signed or unknown. This lead to an ethos of limited artistic creativity–the majors would only market music that they knew would sell already–of course, the development of the art-form stagnated. Then YouTube came along and democratized things, leveling the playing field. Suddenly, musicians could take risks and experiment and still have a decent chance of reaching millions. This resulted in an explosion of new, more creative work.

When we first heard about the YouTube Music Awards, we assumed it would be the first time that major heavy-hitters with major league views would go up against small-time, homegrown talents, like if  Miley Cyrus  went up against these awesome (German?) guys making music on a kitchen table. Finally! An awards show that signifies that the old power structure of music has been shattered, held by the platform that shattered it. But we were wrong.

From that perspective, the first annual YouTube Music Awards were a disaster. These were the nominees for artist of the year: Eminem, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Nicki Minaj, One Direction, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, and Epic Rap Battles Of History.

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WTF? Not a single nomination for a truly homegrown YouTube talent. What about that incredible cold-hearted baby rapper? What about hot sugar making music, or Lennon and Maisey tugging 21-million heart-strings?

YouTube had a chance to give an unsigned, up-and-coming artist an opportunity to shine, and instead Eminem won the Artist Of The Year award. Do you really think the best-selling rapper of all time needs an award from the platform that gives rise to homegrown champions? Do you think Katy Perry was on the edge of her seat, waiting to be awarded for her 50th multimillion-view video? Why get Lady Gaga to perform on an awards show that should have featured a 14-yearold Korean guitar prodigy?

The first annual YTMA ended up being just another sickening circle-jerk like the MTV or the BET music awards, with none of the polish or controversy of those two. Instead of taking this opportunity to celebrate creativity and do something different, they just did same old thing, except worse. How about next year, the YTMAs limit the nominees to people who got their start on YouTube, and make a real effort do something different? Just sayin.

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