Magazine article Variety

It's a Fanbase Hit!

Magazine article Variety

It's a Fanbase Hit!

Article excerpt

Does America really need another music awards show? Probably not, but as the success of the inaugural iHeartRadio Music Awards showed last year, there's plenty of room in the kudosphere regardless.

Now entering its second year, the ceremony is the prime showcase for radio giant iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel), arid whatever it may lack in novelty, it seeks to make up in enthusiasm and populism.

"It's an award show where people will hopefully feel good about the winner," says iHeartMedia president of national programming platforms Tom Poleman. "(The v/inners) sync up well with what consumers told us were the hits throughout the year, so it's not a secret society picking; the records, it's the people who are making them hits."

Indeed, if the Grammys have taken heat of late for straying from the mainstream of their industry's consumer base, iHeartMedia seeks to offer a corrective. Presenting 11 trophies, the kudocast will disburse awards in general categories determined by iHeartMedia's airplay and social engagement measurements, as well as more subjective categories (best lyrics, best fan army) voted on by fans. Scheduled performers include Rihanna, Madonna, Sam Smith and Snoop Dogg, while Justin Timberlake will receive a non-competitive Innovator Award.

The show's inaugural iteration - which, like the second, was directed by Hamish Hamilton at L.A.'s Shrine Auditorium to air on NBC - accrued some impressive figures, with 5.5 million viewers and 8.5 billion social impressions. And perhaps that's not surprising, considering it was the brainchild of iHeartMedia president of entertainment enterprises John Sykes, who helped create the MTV Video Music Awards back in the cabler's infancy.

"The closest thing you could probably compare us to is the early VMAs," Sykes says. "Someone might ask, 'Why should you have an award show?' And I would say, this is the music we program and the artists we work with every day, so we of all entities should have a show where we honor the artists who are putting out the music that the audiences are embracing. …

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