Exclusive: MTV's Bruce Gillmer on Executive-Producing the EMAs, Host Selena Gomez and Getting 62 Million Votes
Exclusive: MTV's Bruce Gillmer on Executive-Producing the EMAs, Host Selena Gomez and Getting 62 Million Votes
Bruce Gillmer, MTV European Music Awards Executive Producer, says this weekend's program is the "crowning jewel" of MTV's international events.

Bruce Gillmer, the executive producer of this year's 18th annual MTV European Music Awards calls the show the "crowning jewel of our international event slate." According to Viacom, MTV's parent company, last year's EMAs, held in Madrid, was watched by a global audience of 22.2 million, with 4.5 million viewers online. With Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Justin Bieber, Bruno Mars, David Guetta, Katy Perry, Jessie J and Red Hot Chilli Peppers confirmed to appear at this year's show -- which takes place this Sunday, Nov. 6 in Belfast, Northern Ireland -- Gillmer talks exclusively to Billboard.biz about growing the EMA brand's global reach.

Billboard.biz: How has this year's EMA progressed from previous editions?
Bruce Gillmer:
In years past, the EMA was really Pan-European focused. We didn't expand beyond those boundaries all that much. The remit that we crafted for ourselves internally two years back [was to] expand the boundaries into more of a global direction. This year, we've taken a giant step in that we've created the Worldwide Act award. So for the first time we have representation from Asia Pacific (BIGBANG), Latin America (Restart), the States (Britney Spears) and Africa (Abdelfattah Grini). Secondly, [there's] our host Selena Gomez. This is the first time that we really have a true multi-platform host. In years past we would a separate host for digital or for online. This year, Selena is really covering all the bases.

MTV European Music Awards host Selena Gomez who Bruce Gilmer says has a "very strong comedic sensibility."

What made Selena Gomez stand out as the best candidate to host this year's event?
She is extremely talented and an actress but also has a very strong comedic sensibility. She also has an extremely passionate following on the digital side. So if you factor all those things together, it's really the perfect storm. She is custom made for us.

Where do the EMAs rank within Viacom's event portfolio?

I would say the MTV EMAs is with a doubt one of the most important. On an international level, if you take the domestic U.S. part of the business out of the equation, it is the most important property that we have. It is the crowning jewel of our event slate.

MTV has invested heavily in building its online presence, how successful has this been and how important is digital in regards to the EMAs?
That area of our business has really grown and evolved, particularly as it relates to the EMAs. I believe last year, when all was said and done, we were somewhere around 48 million votes. This year we're already over 62 million votes, so it's just a massive increase. We truly look at this property as multi-platform. [Digital] is an extremely important part of our plan.

What qualities do you look for when programming the artist line-up?

First and foremost we look at the acts that are most successful on a worldwide basis and acts that really resonate in terms of sales, airplay, downloads and ticket sales in the majority of our markets. ... When we're putting the line-up together we try to be as inclusive as possible, but also it's a very difficult task to try and avoid polarizing the audience.

There has been a large increase in the number of music award shows in recent years. What impact has that had on Viacom events and audience figures?

There was a boom of awards shows several years back and you literally had everybody trying to get into the awards show game...it got to the point where fans and viewers just became fed up and the ratings were cannibalized...In the past couple of years many of those shows are gone and the ones that are left standing are the ones that really have history and legacy and a reason for being, quite frankly.

How do you plan to stay ahead of the competition?
Every time you embark on the pre-production, production and the creative process for these events you always want to top your last show and you always want to be mindful of what tother events are doing. It really starts with the talent resource pool and who is out there. Artists like Lady Gaga and Jessie J and Coldplay and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers -- these are extremely dynamic, compelling artists in their own right, so it really makes our job quite easy. The trick is to try and do something unique that they haven't done before. And, by the way, they're equally as concerned and focused on reinventing their performances as we are. It's a real challenge but it goes with the territory.