For the first time in its 50-year history, the Academy of Country Music is partnering with CMT (Country Music Television) to give country fans the opportunity to vote for the ACM New Artist of the Year. The eight semi-finalists who will be vying for the award were voted on by the ACM's professional membership. They are: Brett Eldredge, Tyler Farr, Sam Hunt, Kip Moore, Thomas Rhett, Chase Rice, Cole Swindell and Dan + Shay.
In a field limited to male acts this year, Best New Artist Grammy nominee Brandy Clark is among the most obvious finalists missing from the ACM category, while one-half of the finalists — Brett Eldredge, Tyler Farr, Kip Moore and Thomas Rhett — were also up for the very same award last year. Justin Moore, whose inclusion in the category last year proved controversial (since he made his debut in 2008), took home the ACM New Artist trophy at 2014's ceremony.
Fan voting for the award begins at VoteACM.com and VoteACM.CMT.com on January 27th at 1:00 p.m ET and closes February 10th at 6:00 p.m. ET. This is the seventh consecutive year that fans will vote to determine the nominees for the newcomer category. The final three nominees for New Artist of the Year will be determined by the first round fan vote, combined with the ACM professional membership vote. Those final nominees will be announced in the coming weeks and a final round of voting will then take place, from April 8th to April 19th. This year's fan-voting process marks a move to CMT from last year's partnership with GAC (Great American Country).
The winners of all of this year's ACM awards will be revealed during the 50th Academy of Country Music Awards, telecast live from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on April 19th at 8:00 p.m. live ET (delayed PT) on CBS. Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton will return as co-hosts of the awards show for the third consecutive year. CMT will produce two television specials highlighting this year's nominees for New Artist of the Year, the first of which will feature all eight semi-finalists.