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iHeartRadio Music Awards to recognize top artist of Instagram

Clear Channel signals the significance of the social photo and video app in connecting fans and stars by adding a new category to its inaugural awards show. Voting, of course, will take place on Instagram.

iheartradio music awards instagram
Clear Channel

And the winner of the award for the top artist on Instagram is...

Thursday, viewers of the inaugural iHeartRadio Music Awards on NBC will witness a first-of-its-kind award with one artist -- Rihanna, Ariana Grande, Austin Mahone, Harry Styles, or Selena Gomez -- taking home a trophy for best in show on Instagram, the photo-centric social network loved by teens and tweens.

The Instagram Award will be given to the artist that generates the most "votes" on Instagram. Fans can cast their vote by uploading a photo or video to Instagram with the hashtag "iHeart" and the artist's first name. So, for instance, a photo tagged #iHeartRihanna, would constitute a vote for the pop singer. Only one vote will be counted per upload.

This is the first time an Instagram award is being incorporated into a major music awards show, according to Clear Channel. It represents a partnership between iHeartRadio owner Clear Channel and the Facebook-owned app.

"It's really a natural partnership given how quickly artists have embraced Instagram as a channel to communicate directly with fans," Owen Grover, senior vice president of Clear Channel Entertainment Enterprises, told CNET. "We agreed that we wanted to celebrate the artists who have used Instagram to provide fans with intimate glimpses into their lives and music."

Nominees were selected in collaboration with Instagram, Grover said, and were picked based on follower counts and engagement metrics, such as "likes" and comments.

Instagram has grown to 200 million monthly active users in the four years since its launch, though a majority of its growth has come after Facebook agreed to purpose the application for $1 billion two years ago. Since then, the network has become one of the most important social channels for celebrities and now rivals Twitter, which has a monthly audience of 241 million people, in that domain.

The iHeartRadio Music Awards airs Thursday evening, May 1, on NBC.