As far as country music awards shows go, the CMT Music Awards have generally been pretty irrelevant.
The show is unique in that it’s one of the only fan-voted awards shows, and it recognizes country music videos (which are also irrelevant these days) and television performances.
But in 2022, for the first time ever, the CMT Music Awards aired on CBS and the Paramount+ network, and managed to wrack up 5.16 million viewers, which is up a staggering 521% from last year’s show, according to Variety.
Granted, nobody watched it last year, and you’d expect to see a big spike moving to a major network, but still, sounds like a success for the CMT Awards.
Apparently hoping to capitalize on that momentum, the awards show just announced a major change for 2023: They’re getting the hell out of Nashville.
During a show in Austin, Texas, Carrie Underwood was surprised onstage by Kelsea Ballerini to announce that next year’s CMT Music Awards would be held at the Moody Center in Austin. Carrie, who’s the winningest artist in CMT Award history, also announced that she would be performing at the ceremony. Ballerini will return as host for the show for the third consecutive year.
In a statement confirming the move, show organizers expressed their excitement at bringing the show to Austin:
“Both Austin and Nashville are two of the world’s greatest music cities and we couldn’t be more excited to announce the return of the CMT Music Awards on CBS than with co-host Kelsea Ballerini surprising Carrie Underwood, our most awarded artist, in the middle of her incredible live performance at Moody Center – the exact venue where we’ll all be back exactly five months from today!
Our fans are in for an unforgettable night of music with plenty of surprises, as the Live Music Capital meets Music City for the first time ever on a national stage in what will be a true country music extravaganza.”
The move marks the first time that the show will be held outside of Nashville, and as other awards shows continue to decline in ratings (and relevance), seems to be an attempt by organizers to turn the show into more of a national event, as opposed to the third (and largely forgotten) country music awards shows as it’s been in the past.
I guess we’ll see if it works. But I have another suggestion if these awards shows actually want to maintain relevance with country music fans: