In the televised gala, set for November 19 in Los Angeles, winners are determined by fan voting, unlike the more prestigious Grammy Awards, which is based on polling of music industry players.
No women were in the running for Artist of the Year for the first time since the category took its current form in 2002.
Funk revivalist Bruno Mars and English songwriter Ed Sheeran were nominated for Artist of the Year as well as Video of the Year for their respective hits “That’s What I Like” and “Shape of You.”
Other nominees for Artist of the Year included Drake — who was also in the running in both the pop/rock and rap fields — and rapper Kendrick Lamar, as well as electronic duo The Chainsmokers.
Another closely watched category, New Artist of the Year, had one woman among the nominees, pop singer Julia Michaels.
Other nominees were former One Direction heartthrob Niall Horan, British singer and fellow TV contest star James Arthur, rapper Post Malone and hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd.
Women have frequently been Artist of the Year, with Taylor Swift winning three times and Ariana Grande taking the prize last year.
The American Music Awards also has separate female and male categories, with Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Alessia Cara in the running for favorite pop/rock female artist.
The nominations come amid growing attention to gender inequality in the United States — conspicuously so in the entertainment industry — and amid mounting allegations that Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein preyed for years on young women.