Today the Academy of Country Music and Great American Country (GAC) announced the 2012 semi-finalists for the New Artist of the Year award, which consists of eight artists after the first round of professional voting. This year’s semi-finalist list includes Scotty McCreery, Brantley Gilbert, Hunter Hayes, Thompson Square, JT Hodges, David Nail, Jerrod Niemann and Justin Moore.

Rather than giving several different awards to new artists — New Male Vocalist, New Female Vocalist, New Vocal Group, etc. — the ACM has combined all of those categories into one New Artist of the Year honor. The first round of fan voting will begin Monday (Jan. 16) at 9AM ET and will end Monday, Jan. 30 at Noon ET. Fans can cast their votes for their favorite new artist at and

These fan votes, combined with the ACM vote, will turn out three finalists, and the winner announced on the live on the 2012 Academy of Country Music Awards, which will air on CBS on Sunday, April 1 at 8PM ET.