Big Machine Music, Dr. Luke's Prescription Form Joint Venture

Erik Philbrook

Dr. Luke and Big Machine president and CEO Scott Borchetta

Big Machine Music and Dr. Luke's Prescription Songs have formed a joint venture to allow the two companies to co-publish songwriters with the goal of bringing country and pop writers into each other's realm.

The deal opens the door for the 30-to-40 writers in Dr. Luke's camp to work with the 10 writers signed to the Big Machine's relatively new publishing operation. While the pinnacle of the two sides is obviously getting material in the hands of Katy Perry and Taylor Swift, the partners view this as a far greater opportunity to develop new voices in the the country and pop arenas as well as expand the territory established writers are working in.

"There's mutual respect, I think," Dr. Luke told Billboard, seated inside a suite at the Loews Hotel wehere the ASCAP I Create Music Expo is being held. "We're both interested in expanding our companies and we love developing writers. I'm sure we've all had partners who didn't bring so much to the table or partners who actually made things harder, so when you find someone who brings value, it's a no-brainer."

Remembering his first phone call with Dr. Luke, Borchetta said "we want to make sure we keep one step ahead of it from our creative (standpoint), for our A&R  and our development. Luke and his team is going to keep us on our toes and put us on the cutting edge of Nashville."

Big Machine Music VP Mike Molinar and Prescription general manager Beka Tischker will oversee day to day management of the songwriters and artists. The first signing under the new deal is former "The Voice" contestant RaeLynn, who signed on prior to the ASCAP Pop Awards Wednesday night. RaeLynn begins recording her Big Machine debut next week. More announcements of signings are expected soon.

"Together,  we can offer an opportunity that we couldn't apart," Dr. Luke says. "It's an opportunity I don't think anyone else could offer. Hopefully, we're doing a great service to our writers."

Prescription Songs' roster includes Perry, Ke$ha, Bonnie McKee, Ammo, Benny Blanco, Cirkut, Becky G and Koool Kojak. Big Machine Music's songwriters include Justin Moore, Dustin Lynch, Greg Bates and Raul Malo of the Mavericks. RaeLynn has already had a writing session with Kojak.

The idea for the joint venture started with Tischker, a former Nashville resident, who asked Molinar if there would be any interest in working together. Molinar said the idea of collaborating with a pop producer-songwriter was "on their radar" and Borchetta saw Prescription as a perfect place to start.

"If you look at the cultures of the two companies, they're very similar," Borchetta said. "Just learning about how Luke operates, it's a similar A&R strategy: We're going to sign the things we fall in love with. When you love it, that's when you don't run out of energy to work on it."

The goal for both teams is to keep an eye open for the other, sending writers to L.A. from Nashville and vice-versa to fit the needs of the two teams. Naturally, both sides see the current landscape in pop music as receptive to the merging of the two cultures, evidenced by Swift's use of various non-Nashville experts to assist with her music on her latest Big Machine release "Red."

Both Dr. Luke and Borchetta see the new agreement as an aid to the A&R process, in songwriting and producing as well.

"We're excited, from a production standpoint, to collaborate when  I need a new idea," Dr. Luke says, noting there should be opportunities in L.A. for budding Nashville producers. "The ability to do that is going to keep us on the cutting edge."