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iHeartRadio Music Awards: How to make it better

MusicMusic IndustryRadioAmerican Music AwardsClear Channel Communications Inc.Pitbull (music artist)
The iHeartRadio Music Awards could use some unsolicited advice to make next year's telecast a better one.
Here's five things producers should consider for next year's iHeartRadio Music Awards.

The dust has barely settled on the inaugural iHeartRadio Music Awards, but we’re already thinking about next year.

And not because we had that much fun.

Thursday’s three-hour, fan-voted spectacle was radio conglomerate Clear Channel’s -- the country’s largest owner of terrestrial radio stations – attempt to dip its toes into the already-crowded field of music awards.

Judging by its first attempt, it could use some unsolicited advice to make next year’s telecast a better one – or at least one worth DVR’ing.

Here’s five things producers should consider for next year.

A shorter running time. Every year the Grammys struggle with what to include in their live telecast, and they are the big dogs. Viewers aren’t tuning in to these second-tier productions for the actual awards, it’s the spectacle and tweetable moments. Three hours is a lot of airtime, and can quickly feel bloated if not packed appropriately. That certainly happened here. Between those “L.A. moments” and oddly paced show run, we were exhausted an hour into the ceremony. Look at the American Music Awards: It’s way too long, but with more than a dozen performances and twice as many awards doled out, the time flies. Having sat in the audience and after rewatching this morning, I think the show could have easily lost an hour. Two is just enough; three is cruel.

Get a host. If producers insist on milking three hours out of viewers, a host would be great to move things along. Consider one, seriously.

Involve the fans. This was a fully fan-voted show, and it’s those fans who tune into radio and buy albums and concert tickets and whatever merchandise Bieber, Gaga and Rihanna feel like peddling. This show is supposed to be for them, powered by them. It wasn’t. Sure, fans were present – they were shoved like cattle into standing room only pits in front of the stage and seated in the balcony – and were thanked by all who took trophies, but they didn’t seem to matter. Maybe next year fans can be the ones handing out the awards, or offer squealing introductions for performers. It would certainly be more fun to watch the artists connect with their fans more than quick high-fives as they run across the stage.

Find a purpose. If you want to compete with what’s out there, have a reason to be there. Viewers only have an incentive to catch another music awards show if you offer them something worth catching. Performers didn’t seem to want to offer audiences much, opting for medleys that highlight songs the crowd and radio loved last year. Work with the acts you’ve secured to deliver something fresh. Not to be insensitive, but one of the night’s coolest moments came courtesy of a pop star that’s been dead since 2009.

Get more creative. The show promised a groundbreaking approach to the typical awards show format. Was that supposed to be those pre-taped L.A. moments? It certainly couldn’t have been the performances anchored at other locations, because viewers have seen that done before – and in cooler ways (Linkin Park performing at the Griffith Observatory for the 2010 VMAs comes to mind). What’s groundbreaking about seeing Pitbull grind on beauties on a faux yacht? The answer is absolutely nothing. Consider that viewers have seen it all and rely on the tried and true awards show fallback: surprise.   

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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MusicMusic IndustryRadioAmerican Music AwardsClear Channel Communications Inc.Pitbull (music artist)
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