Scott Borchetta: The 2014 Billboard Power 100
NO. 40

Scott Borchetta

President/CEO, Big Machine Label Group

Says Nashville can compete on every level—“and that goes for the executive level”

“Florida Georgia Line—all caps,” Scott Borchetta replies to a question about the highlight of 2013. “Such a fantastic year for them. We never take that for granted. The guys reacted so well to moving up the ladder so quickly and became headliners by the end of the year."

“Look at the whole label group. Tim McGraw went from mid-pack to leading man in the format with three [top five country] singles. Taylor [Swift] never wavered. It was one of those watershed years where just about everything worked.”

The charismatic leader of Big Machine considers the results for Florida Georgia Line and the development of such acts as Thomas Rhett, the Cadillac Three and Brantley Gilbert as owing to relentless touring and getting records to resemble an act’s live sound.

“The live element is so important and it can’t be replicated by a handheld device,” he says. “You have to keep serving the fan base, and keep an eye on the street level.”

Naturally, Borchetta is bullish on Nashville. “More and more, we’ve just become a more dominant music center. There is a place here for real musicians, which L.A. and New York can’t claim anymore. Through a long string of people investing, we have the best studios, musicians and songwriters. We can compete on any level and that goes for the executive level as well.”

Corporations and executives from other fields are noticing, which has helped as Big Machine and others look for help to bridge the income gap created as consumers switch from buying albums to streaming singles. The company’s involvement with General Mills in the Outnumber Hunger program is resulting in Florida Georgia Line appearing on more than 30 million boxes of General Mills products beginning in April, for example. Borchetta has at least three other sponsorship activities brewing as well.

“It’s real interesting when you sit down with these big marketing players and you start connecting dots. It gets exciting what we can do,” he says. “No one has fallen out of love with music—they’re finding new ways to use it. And if we can show a great return on investment, they’ll stick with us. That’s why I love multiyear deals with great corporations like General Mills and Diageo that are continuing to build. It’s not just about getting the check. It’s them calling up and saying, ‘That was great. We want more.’ That’s our goal.”