AMA’s Lack Female Representation


Gianna Scibetta, Editor-In-Chief

The American Music Awards are not the “American Male Music Awards.”

But it would be easy for viewers who tuned into the 45th annual award ceremony at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Nov. 19 to have made this mistake.

As a music listener who appreciates the talent in a variety of music genres, I was appalled by the lack of diversity in nominees. As a woman, I was further upset by the realization that not more female artists were nominated in non-gendered categories.

For example, in the largest category for the night, and quite possibly any music award show, Artist of the Year had a total of five nominees: Bruno Mars, Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Ed Sheeran and the Chainsmokers– not one of them female.

But, 2017 has seen numerous hits produced by female artists like Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez. Lovato released “Sorry not Sorry” with more than 320 million streams on Spotify alone. Gomez released multiple singles, such as “Bad Liar” and “Fetish,” that had non-stop radio play.

Then, for the Tour of the Year category, only three–Coldplay, Garth Brooks and U2– made the cut despite a long list of notable tours this year. Again, not one of them containing a female artist.

Why wasn’t tribute paid to Ariana Grande with at least a nomination? She endured the traumatic terrorist attack at her Manchester show in May, and she performed more than 70 percent of the shows on the Dangerous Woman Tour in 2017.

While looking at these categories, it’s hard to believe that not more women were nominated, especially since the artists compete based off of popularity and talent. Radio play, streams, video views, sales and social media interaction determine the nominees, which means the voting is in the hands of the music listeners.

Consequently, listeners should hold the AMAs accountable by encouraging the AMAs to no longer base awards off of gender-specific categories. MTV Movie Awards have already headed in this direction, which then allows talent and popularity to be the only deciding factors with gender-neutral categories, such as “Best Actor in a Show or Movie.”

In our culture today, gender-specific categories are dated and unnecessary. It is not as if we listen to gender-specific radio stations or buy albums from women-only charts.

While the American Music Awards are becoming one of the most popular music award shows to watch, it risks losing its standing with its listeners and with the artists who may stop showing up if nominations continue to lack diversity.

A night where artists from all different types of genres are supposed to come together to appreciate each other’s talent is not going to be emphasized if the same artist is nominated eight times (Bruno Mars) in one show.

The AMAs’s lack of gender variety in its non-gender-specific categories is not highlighting the true range of talent in the music industry.  This will only occur when female and male artists are recognized on an equal playing field.