The show will boost YouTube’s profile just weeks before the site is expected to announce a subscription service that will compete in an already crowded music marketplace.
“On a practical level (YouTube has) put people on the map and it’s generated revenue or other resources like support or recognition from people that normally would not get the exposure,” said Reggie Watts, a performance artist who, along with actor Jason Schwartzman, will host the event.
The awards categories are limited but clearly meant to differentiate the YouTube awards from the Grammys or the MTV Music Video Awards, which grabbed attention this year after a raunchy performance by former Disney star Miley Cyrus as she transitions into a more adult career.
But the categories also range more broadly. “Response of the Year” will pick the best fan remix, parody or response. Other categories include YouTube phenomenon, breakthrough and innovation of the year.
Even the show’s structure aims for something a little different. Watts said he and co-host Schwartzman know the overall sequence of the events but don’t know the blow-by-blow of what will happen at the Spike Jonze-directed show.
“We have no clue what’s going to happen,” he said. “All you can do in the moment is perform.”
The awards show will stream live from New York on Sunday starting at 6 p.m. (2200 GMT).