YouTube on Monday premiered videos from 14 musicians as it tried a new, virtual-only format for the second edition of its music awards.
The giant video-sharing site had searched for a new approach after a mixed reaction to its inaugural event in 2013, which featured a livestreamed show from New York that appeared aimed at creating a new-media rival to the MTV Video Music Awards.
For the second try, YouTube dispensed with the physical world entirely and announced the winners ahead of time and instead used Monday’s “awards” day to premiere new videos.
They included “El Perdon,” a collaboration between Spanish superstar Enrique Iglesias and reggaeton artist Nicky Jam, as well as a song featuring English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran and the electronica-influenced band Rudimental.
But the debuts mostly showcased artists with sizable yet still niche followings, with videos driven by narratives rather than just performances.
British trip-hop singer FKA twigs directed the video for her own “Glass & Patron,” which depicts a pregnant woman pulling a scarf from her womb before the song builds into an abstract dance in the woods.
Other artists who premiered videos included dance music singers Charli XCX and Shamir, Norwegian DJ Kygo and the rising rapper Action Bronson.
The 50 artists who were earlier declared winners — chosen for the growth in interest for their videos on YouTube — included Sheeran as well as a number of massive artists including Beyonce, Drake, One Direction and Nicki Minaj.
While the vast majority of award winners were Western, they also included the South Korean girl group 2NE1, who enjoy an especially large following in Japan.
The inaugural edition in 2013 had faced criticism that the event lacked YouTube’s unique flavor, with the show culminating in rapper Eminem — a perpetual winner at award ceremonies — being crowned Artist of the Year.
The awards came as YouTube and Google try to expand their reach in the growing industry of streaming through paid subscription services.