Does winning an American Music Award mean actual success?

Image Credit: Viberate

Does winning an AMA correspond with long-term popularity, or does the data say otherwise?

The American Music Awards 2021 have been and gone. Your BTS AMAs vote meant the band won big at the 2021 show. Loyal votes for Taylor Swift, The Weeknd and Olivia Rodrigo meant they also scooped gongs. But do the awards equal real-life success, or is it just an empty popularity contest?

The AMAs are decided by public vote. Before the star-studded evening revealed the winners, music data analysts Viberate had a go at predicting the results using only popularity data from 2020-2021.

Viberate argue that being “the best” music artist is measured better in data than in kneejerk response of a public vote. Bias and online promotion steers voters towards supporting their favourite artists – there’s no commitment in clicking a couple of times to cast a vote, but continuing to stream and support an artist throughout a whole year takes dedication.

The predictions reckoned BTS, Justin Bieber, Olivia Rodrigo and Dua Lipa would win American Music Awards based on online data comparing all the nominees in their categories, rather than by public vote. How did Viberate do?

Actual AMA 2021 winner:

Artist of the Year: BTS

New Artist of the Year: Olivia Rodrigo

Favorite Male Pop Artist: Ed Sheeran

Favorite Female Pop Artist: Taylor Swift

Image Credit: Viberate

Viberate correctly predicted that BTS would win both Artist of the Year and Favourite Pop Duo or Group. They also surmised Olivia Rodrigo would win New Artist of the Year – which she did. Justin Bieber’s four billion Spotify streams did not translate to Favourite Male Pop Artist, however, and nor did Dua Lipa’s 2.1 billion YouTube views win her the Favourite Female Pop Artist crown.

Favorite Female Hip-Hop Artist went to Megan Thee Stallion as predicted, and Drake won Favourite Male Hip-Hop Artist; Bad Bunny grabbed Favorite Male Latin Artist and The Weeknd won Favourite Male R&B Artist just as Viberate data said they would.


Viberate also used data to predict the winners of the 2021 MTV Europe Awards. How did Viberate’s predictions for the MTV EMAs turn out? A mixed bag.

BTS won Best Group, just as the data suggested. But it was Ed Sheeran who won Best Artist, not Justin Bieber as predicted. Saweetie won Best New rather than Olivia Rodrigo, although Rodrigo did take home the prize for Best Push as Viberate forecast.  

So, winning an award by fan vote doesn’t necessarily correspond with popularity over the entire previous year. Does it secure success for the coming year? Get streaming and see.

I write about music for RouteNote, sharing fun stuff, news, and tips and tricks for musicians and producers. Also a saxophonist and hater of marmalade.

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