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YouTube debuts first-ever music awards

US rapper Eminem performs on August 22, 2013 during a concert at the Stade de France in Saints-Denis, near Paris
US rapper Eminem performs on August 22, 2013 during a concert at the Stade de France in Saints-Denis, near Paris

YouTube debuts its first-ever music awards ceremony Sunday, in a star-studded showcase notable for some of the industry's biggest names but also its webcast format.

Eminem, Lady Gaga, Arcade Fire and others will perform during the show hosted by actor Jason Schwartzman and musician-comedian Reggie Watts.

Spike Jonze, the force behind a number of hit music videos and films, is creative director for the 90-minute affair, which will stream live from New York's Pier 36 event space.

"None of us have done anything live before or an awards show -- in a way we're all like amateurs on YouTube ourselves, making our first video. So even if it's messy, it'll be live," Jonze told industry trade publication Billboard.

The ceremony will air on the US East Coast at 6 pm (2300 GMT).

The inaugural YouTube Music Awards comes as web denizens increasingly turn to the Internet for streaming and demand programming.

It joins a variety of other industry awards such as the Grammys, MTV Video Music Awards and American Music Awards.

But unlike its cohorts, nominees and winners were tallied in a distinctly Internet-age manner.

"The winners will be decided by fans whose sharing activity this week and last will be tallied right up to Sunday night's show," YouTube's trends team wrote in a Friday blog post.

According to the post, nominees were determined based "on a series of viewership, subscriber, and/or engagement metrics."

In addition to big names such as Miley Cyrus, PSY, Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, lesser-known nominees such as Demi Lovato and Girls' Generation garnered a nod for the coveted best video award.

YouTube will award performers in six categories: artist of the year, video of the year, innovation of the year, response of the year (for videos remixed or parodied), YouTube breakthrough and YouTube phenomenon.

The clips nominated for video of the year have pulled in a combined total of 1.9 billion views, according to YouTube's trends blog.

Meanwhile, the official videos for all 10 artist of the year nominees have drawn nearly 10 billion views from October 2012 to the beginning of the month.

A pre-show webcast culminates with the live ceremony in New York, featuring performances from Seoul, London, Moscow and Rio de Janiero.

Among other artists to perform are Avicii, M.I.A., Earl Sweatshirt, Tyler the Creator and Walk Off the Earth.

The event also includes performances by violinist Lindsey Stirling and music collective CDZA, whose careers were drastically boosted or even enabled by the video-sharing platform.

In August of last year, the Nielsen rating agency published a survey in which 64 percent of American adolescents said they listened to music on YouTube, compared with no more than 56 percent who said they listened to radio.

In another sign that tides are turning for standard forms of entertainment media, online streaming service Netflix hauled in a trove of Emmy nominations earlier this year for shows such as political saga "House of Cards," which vied for best drama.

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