How'd The AMA Noms Do On Diversity?

by Jaclyn Anglis

The American Music Awards nominations are officially out, which means it is time for music fans to scope out the list to see if their favorites made the cut. If your favorite artist happens to be named Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, or The Weeknd, you're in luck, since those three are leading the pack in nominations. But it's also a good time to check in to see how the awards show is doing in terms of representing people in the music industry. It's worth asking how the AMA nominations did on diversity.

Diversity at music award shows has recently gained a lot of attention, particularly because of the recent MTV Video Music Awards and a conversation about the award show's nominations started by Nicki Minaj. After noms were released, Minaj voiced her opinion that her video for "Anaconda" was looked over for a Video of the Year nomination because she is a black artist.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the AMAs the news is not so good on this front. Thirty-three white artists and music groups are up for awards, in comparison to only 19 artists and groups of color. The news gets even bleaker when you look at the amount of awards said artists and groups are up for. Taking in consideration the amount of nominations each person or band got, white folks are up for 56 awards in total, in sharp contrast to people of color, who are only up for 29 total.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Even more disheartening is a look back to last year's AMA nominations. In 2014, 32 white artists and groups were up for awards, while only 14 people of color had the same shot. And in terms of amount of awards they were up for, 53 awards could have potentially gone to white artists, while only 26 could have gone to artists of color. So clearly, not much has improved in terms of diversity in the AMA nominations. And that is not a good thing.

As for how this compares to the VMAs, the amount of diverse artists nominated is similar, but something worth mentioning about the AMAs is that the race of the artists is split entirely by the category in which they are nominated. For instance, all of the Pop/Rock nominees, male and female, are white, while all of the Soul/R&B nominees are people of color. Obviously, black artists perform Soul and R&B more than white artists, but the choice becomes striking when you notice that pop stars like Rihanna and Beyoncé are nominated solely in the Soul/R&B category rather than in the Pop category.

Diversity studies in the entertainment industry as a whole have proven time and time again that people of color are less likely to be represented in music and television than their white counterparts, which already does not serve as a positive example for other people of color who hope to succeed in entertainment someday. It is already more difficult for people of color to break through in the industry in the first place, which no doubt leads to the lack of nominations.

Christopher Polk/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

However, on a somewhat brighter note, the news is not all bad at this year's AMAs. As mentioned before, The Weeknd is one of the front-runners in terms of number of nominations. So there is a chance that "Can't Feel My Face" performer will win big and walk away with lots of much-needed recognition that night. Also, it is worth mentioning that the award show itself will be hosted by Jennifer Lopez, who will add some much needed diversity not only as a person of color, but as a woman of color.

However, these bright spots in the news should not be used as excuses by the entertainment industry — or anyone else for that matter — to overlook other people of color who are worthy of nominations (For example, where is Kendrick Lamar's latest album? The only spot where he is mentioned in the noms is his collaboration with Taylor Swift). Let's hope that more artists begin to speak up about this, so the industry can start to effect some real change.