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Last year, the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) had no choice but to go remote because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Many fans are excited about one of the most anticipated awards shows of the year returning with an in-person audience. Here’s what fans can expect from the 2021 VMAs. 

MTV Moon Man attends the red carpet at the Video Music Awards
MTV Moon Man | Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

MTV VMAs will take place September 12 with a live audience 

In June 2021, MTV issued a press release announcing the upcoming VMAs. The video music awards ceremony will air live from the Barclays Center in New York. 

According to MTV’s release, the health and safety of the artists, fans, and staff remain a priority. MTV and the Barclays Center personnel are working closely with state and local officials to implement best practices in light of the pandemic. 

The 2021 VMAs will honor the 20th anniversary of 9/11 

The MTV Video Music Awards will air one day after the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. MTV is working with 9/11 Day, a nonprofit that recognizes September 11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance to honor the anniversary. 

MTV has orchestrated a series of service-oriented events during the week of the VMAs. The music network hopes their alliance with 9/11 Day will “encourage participation in various acts of charitable service across the country on September 11 to honor the lives lost, their families, those injured, and those who rose in service in response to the attacks.”

MTV Video Music Awards 2021 nominations

At the time of publication, MTV has not announced the nominees for the 2021 Video Music Awards. Stay tuned to Showbiz Cheat Sheet for updates on the 2021 VMA nominees. 

MTV VMAs 2020 was ‘bizarre’ 

Last year was life-altering for several reasons, including the pivot MTV made to host the Video Music AwardsAs Pitchfork reported, the ceremony was “bizarre, even by 2020 standards.”  

Originally, MTV was ready to welcome fans to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for a live show, but the pandemic had other plans. While a few performances did occur in New York, many were reportedly shot in front of green screens in locations like Los Angeles and Seoul. 

According to Page Six, a lot of the talent and their teams flew into New York to shoot a pre-recorded performance. Remember those photos that surfaced of a bruised and bloodied The Weeknd just days before the awards? Fans later learned he was recording his 2020 VMA performance.


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Every performer was required to quarantine for three to four days before their scheduled shoot. Anyone on set the day of shooting was also required to undergo testing for COVID-19.

At this time, it’s unclear what the protocols regarding quarantining and testing will be for the 2021 Video Music Awards. But MTV has stressed that they’re hosting the ceremony safely. 

How to watch the 2021 MTV VMAs 

Per MTV, VMAs will air across their digital platforms in more than 175 countries, reaching an audience of 400 million households in nearly 30 different languages. If you don’t have cable, MTV will likely stream the event on their website.

More details on how to stream the 2021 Video Music Awards will be announced closer to the date of the show. Stay tuned to Showbiz Cheat Sheet for details.