Events

Here's What Goes Into Making the BBMAs Every Year

Billboard Music Awards
Michael Tran/FilmMagic

A general view of the 2014 Billboard Music Awards held at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 18, 2014 in Las Vegas.

Mark Bracco, executive vp programming and development for Dick Clark Productions, has helped oversee extravaganzas like the Academy Awards, the Country Music Association Awards, the American Music Awards -- and now, for the ninth year in a row, the BBMAs (airing live from Las Vegas on NBC at 8 p.m. on May 1). The pro showrunner shares his tips for keeping the onstage festivities fresh.

Home in on Your Host
“Once you land on a host, play to their strengths. Sometimes it’s a comedian who’s all about being funny; sometimes it’s an artist like Kelly Clarkson, who can use singing to carry her hosting. It’s always about making them feel comfortable. If the host is having fun, the audience is having fun.”

Target Must-See Moments
“At a time when audiences are getting more fractured, it’s our job to create individual moments that make people say, ‘I have to tune in.’ We always put something big at the top of the 9 o’clock and 10 o’clock hour, when people are channel-surfing. We’re going to be the only place where BTS and Halsey are performing together. I don’t know what’s more must-see than that.”

Stay Current
“It’s our job to reflect what’s going on in pop culture right now, in all different genres of music, so we’re always looking at what’s on the cutting edge. We have Lauren Daigle this year. I can’t think of any awards show in the last year that has had a Christian-music artist on the show.”

 Crowdsource
“At last year’s show, every time we would cut away to the audience, you saw Tyra Banks dancing, singing the words. We’ve made our audience in the arena a much bigger part of the show. People want to see the audience having fun -- it makes the [at-home] audience feel a part of it.”

 Go With the Flow
“You want to leave room to let unexpected things happen. When Drake won top male artist [in 2017] and pulled Nicki Minaj and his dad onstage with him, it was a real, emotional moment that none of us knew would happen, but we were so glad it did.”

Billboard Music Awards 2019

This article originally appeared in the April 27 issue of Billboard.