Viacom’s OMAs Celebrate Digital Music Culture on the Road with the Flaming Lips

by Dave Mainella

Viacom celebrated its third annual O Music Awards this past Wednesday and Thursday in ground-breaking fashion.  The event focused on a whirlwind tour by The Flaming Lips, who succeeded in breaking Jay-Z’s record for most shows played in a 24-hour period by performing at eight stops in the American South.

The entire experience was streamed live online and via mobile apps, and highlights can be found at omusicawards.com.  The Awards followed the Flaming Lips as they traveled via bus caravan from Memphis to New Orleans, with various supporting acts along the way that included Neon Indian, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, and Hunter Hayes.

The O Music Awards recognizes the collaboration and music and technology, celebrating all aspects of digital music culture.  And they have a history of outrageous spectacles.  This third edition followed suit of years past in providing an unforgettable experience; Chiddy Bang’s longest freestyle rap and the longest team dance marathon were both incredible spectacles of the last two years.

During this year’s Awards, The Flaming Lips were obligated to play at least fifteen minutes at each show, but the intention was to make something special.  Frontman Wayne Coyne elaborated, “At virtually every stop we were attempting to play a song we’ve never played before.  Lots of work has gone into making this a special journey.”

Viacom doled out its awards for categories like Best Artist With a Cameraphone (Selena Gomez) and Must Follow Artist on Twitter (Adam Lambert) as fans followed along online and voted.  It was a creative and attention-grabbing way of hosting an awards show.

In an interview with Hollywood Reporter Dermont McCormack, EVP for Viacom Music and Logo Group Digital, explains, “We wanted to reinvent the creative of how you give out awards.  Giving out an award on a bus moving through the Mississippi in real time — that’s kind of innovative. I don’t think it takes away from the award, I think it adds some magic around it.”

Throughout the 24-hour extravaganza, fans were encouraged to interact and influence tour-bus activities via social media.  They could also switch their online view between the three cameras on the bus, stage, and inside the production truck.

Preliminary numbers, as reported by the Hollywood Reporter suggest that the event was a success.  It was Viacom’s most-viewed digital event to date, with more than 43 million votes.

Other categories and award winners include Best Music App (Artist Growth), Best Music Teacher Replacement (Bandhappy), Best Web-Born Artist (Karmin), and the Beyond the Blog Award (Metal Injection).

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