Anatomy of An Award Show-CMT Wins BossRoss Trophy


Last night’s 2011 CMT Music Awards overachieved, and succeeded. Under the watchful gaze of CMT President Brian Philips, Sr. VP Music Events John Hamlin and Sr. VP Music Strategy Jay Frank and a great team, the production delivered its message of country music FUN across a multi-tiered construct of communication channels, social networks and live in front of a sold out audience of over 12,000 fans. Finally, to accommodate the on-demand “I want when I want it” crowd, there will be numerous re-airings over the next few weeks.

But what defines a hit award show recipe in 2011?

Without getting scholastic, it should be fast-paced, entertaining and sprinkled with humor. Great musical performances as well as special pairings are a requisite. It also needs a script that can connect the various moments without being predictable. Blend in high profile red carpet coverage and a comprehensive online strategy. Then sprinkle a bit of magic dust in the form of celebrity sightings that make fans feel they are peeking behind the curtain, stir and simmer for 2-3 hours.

So how did CMT stack up against the above ingredients? Let’s hand out some newly-minted BossRoss trophies where deserved. In the fast-paced, humor department, witness the opening prerecorded Taylor and Shania sequence where the dual femmes channeled Thelma and Louise. (If you haven’t seen it click here.)

Kid Rock was also right on the money this year and kept the show in motion (unlike last year’s on-camera drinking shots backstage with other artists fiasco). Loved the frequent camera cut aways to seated celebs, which kept the fan’s eyes stuck like glue to the CMT screen.

Great performances were there as well. Sugarland, The Band Perry, Lady Antebellum and a Kid Rock/Sheryl Crow duet all earned trophy status. @Musicrow tweeted after the Sugarland segment, “If Jennifer Nettles voice doesn’t touch your heart….check with your doctor, you might be dead #CMTAwards” and it was retweeted over 31 times! The show closer pairing of Jason Aldean and Ludacris was innovative, if not a perfect fit.

The script was brief but sharp. For example, imagine Martina McBride and Train’s Pat Monahan quipping about the dangers of cellphone mishaps (Anthony Weiner and Brett Favre) before announcing the Collaborative Video Award.

To discover CMT’s online strategy, start at their web site, click to facebook (310,000 likes) and then check out @followCMT (80,000 Twitter followers). A barrage of coverage was flowing out to fans before, during and after the show. Links to various short clips, comments, photos backstage comments and much more. The online team was also engaging the crowd in a two-way conversation. Online was treated as a key ingredient, not an afterthought. (Hand them another trophy.)

CMT makes no apology for its edgy, big-tent concept of country music and takes some heat as a result. Some fans complain about seeing Ludacris or Kid Rock and others on the country show. It’s a personal preference and when the ratings come back later today we’ll see how they fared. My guess is that even though they might complain some, they were mostly watching…

Perfection is elusive, but this production ranked “heavenly” in the increasingly packed sky of country music awards constellations.


For a complete list of CMT Winners click HERE

For another opinion on the show click HERE


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Category: Awards, Exclusive, Featured, MusicFest

About the Author

David M. Ross has been covering Nashville's music industry for over 25 years.

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