Scott Borchetta on 'The Launch,' His New A&R-Based Artist Discovery Show

Courtesy of Bell Media 
Big Machine’s Scott Borchetta (right) points to the backdrop featuring the name of his new six-part music television series with partners Bell Media after his Toronto interview with Your Morning host Ben Mulroney. 

The label head calls it 'game-changing' with an 'A&R-first mission.'

Think you can sing the next hit song? That's the question on The Launch submission page, open to singers around the globe.

Big Machine Label Group's Scott Borchetta, who spent two seasons as a mentor on American Idol, including the final last year, is back at it with the launch of The Launch, which is his spin on a familiar artist discovery format.

The man who guided Taylor Swift’s career from unknown to superstardom calls it “game-changing” and an “A&R-first mission.” The focus is the song—finding the right artist for the right song, versus the Idol process of a one-size-fits-all song ready to go to radio for whichever top contender won.

Partnering with Bell Media in Toronto, the global music TV talent search will air sometime in 2018. Contestants meanwhile can upload their audition videos until the May 10 deadline to, where all the FAQs, including eligibility requirements and release agreements can be found.

The series was co-developed by and is produced in association with BMLG’s Borchetta, Paul Franklin of Eureka (Masterchef), and Bell Media, in partnership with Toronto-based Insight Productions (The Juno Awards, The Amazing Race Canada, Canadian Idol). The format will be available for distribution globally by Bell Media Original Programming and Big Machine Label Group.

Billboard spoke with Borchetta in Toronto  about the new partnership and show concept.

Billboard: Why Bell Media. Why cross a border to do something like this?
Scott Borchetta: Bell Media has the platform to do the kind of reach that I think you need to have to launch something like this — no pun intended, the ability to have TV, radio, mobile, Internet. It’s such a loud world out there, so it's important to be able to be ubiquitous across formats. Because everybody is saying, “Well, if Idol comes back, is it on digital? How will these shows be in the future?” I think we have a great opportunity to build the model for what the next great competition show will be.

You have a relationship with Randy Lennox from his years as president and CEO of Universal Music Canada. He's done remarkable things in the short time he’s been at Bell when it comes to music expansion. Is he key to all this?
My relationship with Randy goes back to when we first started Big Machine and came into Canada and he’s been a brilliant partner ever since. It was very easy to pitch him on the show because he completely understood it. Being on the record side of this and the challenges that we had and to show this idea on how we can completely turn it on its head and have the ability to plug into all the new things that he was doing—the timing could not have been better.


You were on Idol for two seasons, but it seems like people were getting fatigued with the show. In Canada, we had Popstars and then Canadian Idol for five seasons (ended 2008), whose most successful artists didn’t win—Jacob Hoggard from Hedley and Carly Rae Jepsen. So when American Idol ended, it seemed it was time, but it’s only been a year and now you’re coming back with another show.
But it was still hugely rated.


How will this be different?
I think the fact that we’re starting with a song. That’s the game-changer. The reason that Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood worked is because the songs they did on the finale were not the hit singles. The singles from the albums and properly A&Red were the hits, so we’re going to add the A&R first. It’s an A&R-first mission. Great production team, great song and very specific genre, celebrity mentor. Because we’re going to do multiple genres, so we might have one show that’s country, one show that’s pop, one that’s urban and one that’s rock because it’s six shows and all closed-ended. So we’ll launch a single from every episode. All six episodes we’ll launch a single.


So we don’t see the audition process?
You’ll see them perform a song in front of us and we’ll choose two of them to record the single.


What are contestants uploading?
Upload a video of them singing. It can be an original song; it can be a cover song, but it’s really personality too.



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