YouTube Music Awards: Eminem Wins Artist of the Year in Video Site’s Glitchy and Awkward Webcast

YouTube Music Awards: YTMA Winners Announced

Peak of 220,000 users live-streamed show Sunday, which suffered from technical glitches and confusing unscripted moments

The first YouTube Music Awards webcast wasn’t broadcast-quality in any sense — it was marred by video and sound snafus, and the show’s hosts looked adrift as they tried to wing it without scripts — with Eminem and a South Korean girl group winning top prizes based on fan votes.

The kudocast, which may be prelude to YouTube launching a music-subscription service, was held Sunday at New York City’s Pier 36 and streamed live over the Internet.

A peak of more than 220,000 people were concurrently live-streaming the event, which started at 6 p.m. Eastern and clocked in at just under 90 minutes. That’s compared with 10.1 million who tuned in for MTV’s Video Music Awards in August to witness a writhing Miley Cyrus. The Grammys in February drew 28.4 million viewers for CBS.

The YouTube video stream froze at several points, and microphones malfunctioned. Performers missed their cues several times. And even when the video played normally it often wasn’t clear what was going on. Instead of producing zany water-cooler moments, the unscripted nature of the show felt muddled.

Nine-member K-pop supergroup Girls’ Generation “I Got A Boy” won video of the year, beating out bigger-name nominees in the music biz including Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, One Direction and Psy. The announcement of the win by Girls’ Generation — a group popular across Asia — elicited a muted reaction (evidently a collective “who?”) from the Gotham crowd.

“There’s nothing scripted tonight — it’s about anything happening,” co-host Jason Schwartzman said at the start of the show.

Problem was, nothing very interesting happened. Schwartzman was dusted with blue powder near the end; that was after members of the band OK Go painted him to look like Gotye in the video for “Somebody That I Used to Know.” The actor-musician hosted the show with comedian-musician Reggie Watts. Both were handed babies by actress Rashida Jones for some reason.

The YouTube Music Awards — a.k.a. “YTMA,” following the nomenclature of MTV’s VMAs — featured live performances by Lady Gaga (wearing a baseball cap and flannel shirt), Eminem, Arcade Fire, Avicii, M.I.A., Earl Sweatshirt, Tyler the Creator, Walk Off the Earth, and YouTube musical acts Lindsey Stirling and CDZA. Confusingly, most of these were staged as “live music videos” with actors instead of the usual live-performance presentation.

The show was directed by filmmaker Spike Jonze and exec-produced by Vice Media and Sunset Lane Entertainment. Kia Motors was the title sponsor. At the close of the show Jonze thanked YouTube “for letting us make this mess.”

Other YTMA winners: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis won in the breakthrough artist category; Lindsey Stirling and Pentatonix won best response video for their version of Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive”; Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” won in the “phenomenon” category (songs that generated the most fan videos) though Swift was not in attendance to accept the award; and YouTube personality DeStorm won innovation of the year for “See Me Standing.”

The full list of YouTube Music Awards nominees is available here. YouTube determined the nominations based on data over the last 12 months, to represent the artists and videos with the highest levels of engagement, including views, likes, shares, comments and subscriptions.

Fans voted by sharing the official YTMA nomination videos for each nominee via Facebook, Twitter or Google+, with about 60 million “votes” cast. The voting kicked off Oct. 21, with the final tallies taken right before the show, according to YouTube.

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    1. Kim Seung Yuu says:

      I’m S. Korean I tour a lot in Asian country. Now I’m in Philippines sometimes in Thailand or Vietnam. Girls Generation is not well known in other asian countries.What I mostly hear is Psy music such as Gentlemen and gangnam style. In Korea GG has a loyal and strong following they are small group. Psy is still more popular worldwide.

    2. kirstenbow says:

      I have to agree. I found the show confusing and most of the time I had no idea what was going on (very similar to the hosts). I have no idea what they were trying to achieve with bringing babies onto the show, but whatever they were expecting, it didn’t work. I didn’t mind the performances, however. I thought they were a fresh take on award show performances and it fit. This is the YouTube Music Awards, YouTube is all about creating video content and sharing it with the world, why not do it at an awards show?

    3. and here's another dumbass anitsone says:

      Girl’s Generation IS popular in Asia. Pretend? Who meeds to pretend when you have raw talent? Let the results speak for themselves. Or rather, let the fans speak for their team.

    4. Kpoop says:

      F5 attacks from korea.. Yeah it is cheating… Girls generation is not popular in Japan,China and Taiwan. Lady gaga is more popular of course! Seriously, most of Japanese and Chinese hate or do not know Girls generation because they are not popular in those countries but they PRETEND they are popular! so it is totally Lie that they are popular in ASIA! NOOOO WAY. They are not popular in Asia either. Just Koreans are trying to make them popular.

    5. eli-chan says:

      Girls Generation deserve to win the YTMA for video of the year . all thanks for the fans who really show their love and support for the group. criticizing the group for winning the award is a disgrace for the people who supported them .

    6. Eminem mtv says:

      watch Eminem rap god in HD here

    7. Konstantin says:

      My rant on the shame of it all right after YTMA was over.

    8. erick says:

      Even if this was a mayor event streamed on youtube, i think it wasnt poorly executed. This is how youtube is, non scripted and inprovised. This is how it was suppose tu turn out. I have no regrets of watching it.

    9. PT says:

      That’s not really “News” now, is it. It’s just Todd Spangler expressing his opinion on the show. File it under commentary/voices.

      • Lap Fung Lee says:

        Dear Todd, which is your best show in the last 12 months? I would like to know more about your taste.
        I guess you are 35yo+ which according to some study is reluctant to accept new things.
        I don’t know where your focus was when you watched the show (have you really watched it?), but the mic failure was a gag. There were more subtle things in the show which were actually gags but in some eyes, misses.
        And one more guess, you are not following technology trends closely. I mean, you may not know Google is a company preaching its innovations. They celebrate fails. Fail fast, learn fast. After all, the “Live videos” is a very forward try.

        • Konstantin says:

          Dear Lap Fung Lee, I strip your text of the verbiage and here’s the ugly summary that is left: 1) Tod, you are too OLD to judge this. 2) You didn’t see what I saw there so that must mean you DIDN’t focus on the show, 3) the mike being a gag is a fact (I surmise you were hired as technical staff at this event?, can you prove that?) 3) You are not following the technical trends – God knows what you referred to there because you didn’t bother to expand on that. Your enthusiastic attempt to box Tod away into the 35+ year olds reluctant to accept new things doesn’t wash. Why? Because (even though I myself am past that age threshold) if Tod was an unattached observer/commentor, I am actually the bearded guy who runs around with life-feed cameras on my shoulder at live broadcast events. It’s my job. One 3rd of the time I am actually the camera switchboard operator switching cam feeds during live broadcasts. What you are so protectively trying to candy-wrap as “near misses but actually planned” are SUCH transparent blunders to a professional it’s not even funny! I AM excited about YTMAs in the future, I DO appreciate this event, but this one was a fail! Poor focus, insufficient lighting, the worried numb face of Jason Schwarzmen, the sound feed interruptions far beyond the f.. words censorship (I guess this was a 3-5 second delay live feed after all) and the guy dropping the mike on the floor, the rest was pretty much technical glitches. 3rd of the music videos out of focus? Any professional SHOOTING for an “indie” or “self-made” effect would tell you there’s that much mess an operator can allow to happen to create that feeling, not the bloody 3rd during the live music video feeds! Which tells me – as it OFTEN happens, the first event was completely understaffed with professionals, which in TURN (from my many years of experience, might be wrong though) tells me they severely underfinanced the whole event. As usual – “we’ll provide you with the broadcast capacity, pay you a couple of bucks/or nothing in return for exposure to the whole wide world, handle the logistics of the event with the minimal assistance on our part”. Just in case you are right and they overloaded the show with anti-creative mess going after the Miley “anything to make them talk about us” effect, then that was a slap in the face of the Youtubers, most of who are in youtube target age category and are clearly not impressed, see internet comments on this. Closing on your comment on “live feeds” – “… a very forward try?” How old are you, Mr. Lap FUng Lee??? Live feeds is a well known technology that has been actively used for YEARS, more than enough time to polish the technicalities and use someone else’s expertise if you don’t have it in the house (given they were proudly slapping Google/Youtube brand on that). On one thing I do agree with you, they’d better learn fast, cause I’m not watching YTMA 2014 if it doesn’t get better. Enough disorganization and poor event planning/coordination of live broadcast events at work as it is.

    10. LOL says:

      The revelation for the arrogant North American and British music industry is that its music isn’t as internationally relevant as it thinks it is. Music sales in both territories is at worrying historic lows, whereas in various European and Asian territories sales are booming.

      The YTMA shed light on this actuality. Music is becoming more localised and specific. American pop music is growing less influential and British pop hegemony is inconsequential. Last night’s show was a revelation.

    11. Sanz says:


    12. 220,000 viewers for a fan voted awards show is not a bad turnout. 10.1 million for MTV awards in comparison is a lot but how many tuned in to the first MTV awards 29 years ago? Also the quality is not Broadcast quality because it is not broadcast but streamed. They’re not using technology that has been around for over 60 years like television has been. Part of the appeal of the YTMA is the spontaneity of it, the same spontaneity that has made YouTube popular. When you say “nothing very interesting happened” that depends on ones viewpoint of interesting. Personally I find watching people being themselves more interesting that watching the “elite” at a MTV Music Awards show.

    13. Leyy Nash says:

      SNSD really deserves it <3
      Go, Girls Generation ;)))

    14. Joe says:

      “K-pop group Girls’ Generation “I Got A Boy” won video of the year, beating out bigger-name nominees including Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, One Direction and Psy.”

      what’s funny about this comment is Girls’ Generation’s actually bigger than Psy is. and no, i’m not talking about just in Korea, or just in Asia. i’m talking in total; over their career; and Psy’s been around longer than them.
      outside of 2 singles, they’ve buried him in sales. the fact that he’s the only Korean artist any American knows doesn’t mean he’s the biggest Korean artist out of Korea/Asia…

      it’s also worth some comedy that Girls’ Generation has actually sold more albums, singles, or both than some of the “bigger-name” (i.e. simply meaning “Western”) acts that were nominated for the same award.

      whats not worth any comedy is that all this could be known to any writer willing to spend 5 minutes on Wikipedia…

      • REF says:

        Um you can’t just say take out Psy’s two best singles, they’re one of the highest selling singles in Korean history. Take out Gee & I Got a Boy from Girls Generation and they’re weakened as well. You can’t just take out Psy’s 2 biggest hits, he’s more known worldwide.

    15. s0ne narut0 says:

      yes..i agree…this is girl generation time..whose beat west artist…g.g fandom(s0ne) whose had many fan around the world…i believe all true s0ne think this girls are more talented compare to other artist(or nominees!!!) that my opinion…i become a s0ne in 2009..find a cute brightfull artist,concept,song mv name ” gee “..whose does’nt know this girls are pity..maybe they do not search and watch more often utube us do watch more often utube okay !!

    16. ah2000 says:

      Why are most people hating on Girls Generation? Its not like they cheated or anything. It just goes to show that they have a larger fandom than Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber. And anyone who’s into world music as compared to only western music knows that Kpop is pretty dominating throughout the east. —also Congrats to Girls Generation for showing that its okay to wear decent clothes in a music video.

    17. Seriously, this article is really awkward. Do better research on the “South Korean girl group” … whose name is GIRLS GENERATION.

    18. Hardcore sone says:

      This article is disappointing. Beating out bigger-name nominees? No. Girls Generation is one of the most popular groups in Asia. They are the bigger-named nominee. Don’t sound so superior.

      They are also not simply a South Korean girl group. They are Girls Generation. I notice that you did not classify Eminem as merely a white rapper. Biased, aren’t we?

    19. refman says:

      Speaking of awkward, this whole article is awkward. Do better research next time.

    20. j says:

      what an unprofessional article. it’s an award show where the winners are decided by fan votes. the crowd acting like they don’t the korean girl group who won isn’t unexpected..but a writer who should be doing your research before posting an article, acting like an ignorant fool is really stupid and embarrassing to all journalist out there.

    21. CharlieF says:

      Here, fixed it for you.
      “…Girls Generation (a South Korean girl group)…”

      And also.
      “Author: Some guy at Variety.”

      Ridiculous. Who’s your editor?

    22. sincerely sone says:

      ” a South Korean girl group won top prizes” .. it’s GIRLS’ GENERATION. not just some random south korean girl group. please be more professional next time.
      you wouldn’t say one direction “a British boy group won top prizes”.

    23. JB Clem says:

      My thoughts on this sham of an awards show. What a slap in the face to talented Musicians on Youtube.

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