Billboard Explains: The American Music Awards

The American Music Awards is considered the world’s largest fan-voted awards show, but it hasn’t always worked that way.

After Dick Clark created the ABC broadcasted show in 1973, the show sought to distinguish itself from the peer-voted Grammys by focusing on what music fans bought and listened to. The exact way of measuring that popularity has evolved over the years. In recent years, nominations became based on key fan interactions as reflected on the Billboard charts, including streaming, album sales, song sales and radio airplay. These measurements are tracked by Billboard and its data partner MRC Data, and cover the time period Sept. 25, 2020, through Sept. 23, 2021.

But how did the fans become responsible for picking the winners? And who gets to pick the performers for each show? Find out in the latest episode of Billboard Explains before the 2021 AMAs, hosted by this year’s three-time nominee Cardi B for the first time, airs live on Sunday, Nov. 21 from Los Angeles’ Microsoft Theater. Click here for a full lineup of performers and presenters for the 2021 ceremony.

After the video, catch up on more Billboard Explains videos and learn about the Billboard Latin Music Awards, the Hot 100 chart, how R&B/hip-hop became the biggest genre in the U.S.how festivals book their lineupsBillie Eilish’s formula for success, the history of rap battlesnonbinary awareness in musicthe Billboard Music Awardsthe Free Britney movementrise of K-pop in the U.S.why Taylor Swift is re-recording her first six albumsthe boom of hit all-female collaborationshow Grammy nominees and winners are chosenwhy songwriters are selling their publishing catalogshow the Super Bowl halftime show is booked and why Olivia Rodrigo’s “Drivers License” was able to shoot to No. 1 on the Hot 100.

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