Interview with Scott Borchetta from "American Idol" on FOX - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Scott Borchetta

Interview with Scott Borchetta of "American Idol" on FOX 3/12/15

I wasn't sure what to ask Scott at first, since I don't watch the show regularly, but fortunately I ended up asking a rather vague question that he gave me a really good answer to! Sometimes that happens.... Anyway, it was an interesting call.

Final Transcript
FBC PUBLICITY: The American Idol Conference Call
March 12, 2015/10:30 a.m. PDT

Kristen Osborne
Scott Borchetta


Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and welcome to the American Idol Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. (Operator instructions.) Also, as a reminder, todayís conference call is being recorded.

I would now like to turn the conference over to your host, Kristen Osborne. Please go ahead.

Kristen: Hello. Thank you all so much for joining us today. As a reminder, American Idol airs tonight at 8 p.m. on Fox. Iím now very happy to introduce American Idol mentor and President and CEO of Big Machine Label Group, Scott Borchetta, who is here to answer your Idol-related questions. Thank you so much and hello, Scott.

Scott: Good morning.

Kristen: Now we can open the line for questions.

Moderator: Okay, and our first question comes from Rodney Ho with The Atlanta Journal. Please go ahead.

Rodney: Hi, Scott. How are you doing?

Scott: Great, Rodney. How are you?

Rodney: I am wonderful. I may as well start with the most basic question: How did American Idol producers convince you to do this?

Scott: You know, it was really interesting, because weíve been talking about it for a little while, and I think the way that the psychology has changed in the 14 years, now that the show is in its 14th season, in so many conversations over the last 3 or 4 years when Iím talking to new artists who are looking to get a record deal, to figure out how to have a career, American Idol started showing up as one of the consistent talking points of, like, ďI can bang it out in the clubs, I can do online, I can go do this, I can try for out American Idol, I can doóĒ Iím like, whoa, whoa, whoa, back up to that. And I think, because you have a generation now that has grown up with American Idol, I had to look at it as what I believe it to be, which is a great A&R and artist development opportunity. And with Idol giving me the opportunity to work behind the scenes with a contestants and develop them one-on-one, weíre going to have a huge audience every week to do that in real time. It was a challenge that we wanted to take on.

Rodney: And as a follow-up, what do you hope to accomplish as a mentor? What kind of work do you think youíll be able to do in this environment?

Scott: Well, I look at this, again, just the same way that we sign any artist. Itís all about development. So my goal is, when that winner is announced on May 13th, that on May 14th we are bringing a significant new recording artist into the market. And all of the TV showsówhen the showís over, the showís over. Well, the career isnít over, and so Big Machine is going to continue to work diligently in the continued development of whoever wins.

Rodney: Okay. Thank you so much. Good luck.

Scott: Thank you.

Moderator: Our next question comes from Dave Walker with the New Orleans Times. Please go ahead.

Dave: Good morning, and thanks for doing this call.

Scott: Thanks, Dave.

Dave: Can I get a quick take from you on a couple of contestants Iím following, and thatís Quentin and Joey. They both seem to be stylistic outliers a little bit; theyíre doing their own thing. How are they fitting into this and what have you suggested to them about following through and winning?

Scott: Well, I love that you brought up those two, because one of the missions for me, as well, in the show is for all of the kids out there that are watching and might not have been interested in the past because maybe they were thinking they were too left of center to do well on a show like this. I think this season, you know, you throw in Jax and a couple of others who are really bringing a lot of artistic vision to the show to begin with and itís been great for me because Iím always looking for what are those extraordinary and different qualities that I can work with to help bring to the forefront, because the reality is, the next superstar is on the edge of the mainstream.

If you look at the most successful artists, you donít want more of what you already have. You want to add a color. You want to hear something different on the radio. You want to be able to have a platform like this, be able to break the next Lady Gaga, to be able to break the next Eric Church, to be able to break an edgier artist thatís on the edge of the mainstream, and thatís what I love about Quentin and Joey and Jax and some of the others. They are individuals and Iím very excited about them.

Dave: Thank you.

Scott: Thanks, Dave.

Moderator: Our next question comes from Emily Yahr with the Washington Post. Please go ahead.

Emily: Hi, Scott. How are you?

Scott: Great, Emily, how are you?

Emily: Pretty good. Thanks for doing this. Iím just wondering, since you already work with artists and singers from The Voice that are on your label and thereísóIím just wondering what it is, specifically, about American Idol that appealed to you and made you think itís the kind of platform that can launch this new successful recording artist?

Scott: Sure. You know, our experience with The Voiceówe are attached and affiliated to Republic Records out of New York, and so our Republic Nashville label has a first right of refusal for any of the country artists that come off of The Voice, and in that situation, we donít have any communication with them until after the show is over. So this is the complete opposite. I get the chance to work with the kids as soon as we get to Hollywood Week and really start developing behind the scenes. For instance, Cassadee Pope, who is a great artist on our label, really we didnít even know she wanted to make a country record until a day or two after she won. So it was really starting from zero for us.

If you look at the success of RaeLynn, who has a Top 5 single at iTunes today, thatís three years in the making of development. Well, again, we didnít have any opportunity to work with them until they were off the show. Weíre trying to advance the curve here, work with them now, take advantage of all the attention and media and get a head start, because when done right, I believe this show does not anoint you a career, it anoints you a fantastic opportunity, and Iím here to take every advantage of that opportunity.

Emily: I was wondering one other thing, speaking of just how hard it is to launch new singers these days. I know thereís been some talk in the country music world, and someone made the statement, ďIf youíre not on country radio, you donít exist.Ē Iím just wondering what you think about that statement; if you think that has any truth to it.

Scott: It depends which lane you want to be in, because that is a very broad statement and you could shoot holes in it all day long. You can look at an artist like Sturgill, who has a fantastic career that he has built from the ground up. You can look at several different artists that are just a little bit to the left of center that have built great careers. Now, if you want to play in the mainstream country game, youíre not going to win it if youíre not winning it at mainstream country. But I look at that as a very specific thing. Itís like, ďThis is what I want to do.Ē Well this is a big part of it.

Emily: Thank you.

Scott: Thanks.

Moderator: Our next question comes from Judith Little with YES TV. Please go ahead.

Judith: Hi, Scott, how are you?

Scott: Hi, Judith, how are you doing?

Judith: Iím good. It was nice to see you last week in Detroit. Thanks for being so gracious to our team.

Scott: Sure, that was fun.

Judith: We Tweeted out your video last night and all your Canadian fans went crazy.

Scott: Awesome.

Judith: So our question for you is, obviously, Taylor Swift is such a great singer/songwriter, songwriting-turned-niche, and there are lots of contestants that have very interesting styles this year that youíve already mentioned, so what is the industry missing that one of this yearís American Idol contestants has to offer, that maybe has never been out there before?

Scott: Thatís a great question, because Iím always looking for some of the things I feel are missing. And right now, if you look at pop radio, itís really been dominated by female artists. I think thereís a huge opportunity for a couple of male pop artists. So, thatís something that Iím looking out for. There are a couple of other things that Iím not going to mention because they havenít been done yet, and I donít want to give away any secrets. But weíre always looking for that lane that is open and how to fill those spots. But it gets back to really being unique and having an artistic vision and having something to say. I think we have contestants on the show this year that can do that.

Judith: Alright. And this year more than ever, weíre noticing so much movement on stage, even from the most inexperienced artists or the youngest ones. Has that been something that youíve really focused in with the contestants on is their stage presence and really making a mark early on?

Scott: Yes, definitely been involved in that conversation. Itís not just me, but I think with my own background and working with artists, literally from zero to hero, understanding how to use the stage and where to be and what do to with the camera, and weíve really been super focused on making sure that every time you get on stage, it is a performance. It doesnít have to be overdone, but understand that the 90 seconds you get, the 2 minutes you get, you can move the needle, and understand that every note counts.

Judith: Okay, great. Thank you so much.

Scott: Thank you.

Moderator: Our next question comes from Suzanne Lanoue with The TV MegaSite. Please go ahead.

Suzanne: Hi, this is Suzanne. Good morning.

Scott: Hi, Suzanne.

Suzanne: Hi. I was wondering, is there anything that you can tell us about tonight that we might expect that you know of, or things that youíre looking forward to?

Scott: I think that one of the things weíve been talking about this week with production is, in this media world, forever, we never talked about which songs were going to be performed prior to the show. So something that we started yesterday is having the contestants Tweet out to the artists or Tweet out to a hash tag, etc., and say, ďHey, Iím doing this song tonight if I get through.Ē And just to get that awareness and get that buzz out there. So all of the contestants will be Tweeting today about what song theyíre going to do tonight.

But thatís one of the things that I think is really exciting, and also to drive tune-in, because if you get, ďOh my God, so-and-soís going to do the new Taylor single,Ē or Bruno Mars or Keith Urban or whatever it is, I think thatís a great way to just build excitement for whatís going to happen that night. So, obviously, one of the things that I think is really incredibly important about the urgency of the show is we are basically last one standing now. We have our Top 12. Tonight we will have 11 perform and the last one standing goes home.

There is no more results show. Every show counts. Every performance show counts. There is no fat in this and itís game on.

Suzanne: Alright, thanks a lot.

Scott: Thank you.

Moderator: Our next question comes from Jamie Ruby with The Please go ahead.

Jamie: Hi, thanks for talking to us today. I apologize about my dogs barking loud. So, Iím curious. So far, being a mentor this year, what has surprised you the most that you didnít expect?

Scott: You know, a lot of the things that I really came into this with my eyes open and my mouth shut, just to learn the program, understand how the entire production works together. Iíve been so impressed how this team takes care of each other. From the judges, all the way down to every piece of this production, itís really incredible and itís really blown me away about how much everybody cares about the show.

Watching the judges interact, especially during Hollywood Week and the Green Mile, and seeing how much Jennifer and Keith and Harry take so much time and care in trying to make sure they do the best job possible. You never know that coming from the outside. Itís like you see an hour or two of television every week and you donít know everything that goes into it. Thereís so much love and care that goes into the show, itís blown me away.

Scott: Also, too, I can tell you watch my Twitter today, because weíre going to give away something tonight, and weíre going to make a really cool announcement tonight, so thatís all I can say.

Jamie: Alright, thank you.

Moderator: Our next question comes from Steve Gidlow with Please go ahead.

Steve: Hey, Scott. Good to talk to you. Weíre used to having two shows a week and I think previously thatís really helped us to get to know the contestants, because youíre seeing them twice a week. How do you think going to one night is going to impact that part of the show, because it has been an important factor previously?

Scott: Yes, you know, I think weíve got to do a great job on sending everybody to, because we have so much content, so much more than we could ever put on television there, and you can really learn a lot more about them by just a couple of clicks. So I think thatís really the message for our Idol fans and watchers, is to make sure youíre going to There is so much cool stuff online, and thatís just the way of the world now.

Steve: Right. Okay. Thank you so much.

Scott: Thank you.

Moderator: Our next question comes from Steve Owens with Entertainment World. Please go ahead.

Steve: Hey, Scott, how are you doing?

Scott: Good, man.

Steve: The question I have is actually when somebody does win, what do you feel is going to be the most important element? Is it going to be their social media? Obviously the singing, but writing songs to somebody, touringówhere do you see the real power to make a super star after theyíve come off of American Idol.

Scott: If we get it right, itís everything. Youíve got to have the total package. Youíve got to have your artistic image and impact completely specific, clear, everybody knows what this is, and then it is a continued everyday grind of all of the things that we have to do, because weíve got to have great music.

If I donít come out with great music, youíre going to go, ďOh, okay great, we had this great season, the ratings were good, the show got picked up, everythingís rocking, and oh wow, the record sucks.Ē So, weíve got to make sure the music is right, and I think the other elements will reveal themselves by the time that we get to May 13th. So probably mission critical for me when we get that far is to make sure that we have great music to back all of this up.

Steve: Okay. Any advice youíd give somebody who wants to try to get on Idol next year?

Scott: Yes, pay attention, because weíre going to show you more than ever before on how to get a leg up and come into the auditions for next year. I hope to better prepare anybody, any young artist, wannabe, etc., better than ever, and any time before, to have a better understanding of what is most important coming into this. And also for the parents, as well. Weíre going to give you more information this year than ever before about how to do this.

Steve: Perfect. Thank you very much.

Scott: Thanks.

Moderator: Our next question comes from Eddino Abdul Hadi with Straits Time Singapore. Please go ahead.

Eddino: Hi, Scott. American Idol is shown around the world. How important is it for you for the winner to reach outside of America?

Scott: Itís very important and one of the things Iíve talked to some of the team about in the pastóyou know, if you look at some of the bigger artists that have broken hereóI think Kelly Clarkson has done a great job of really doing the work, putting the time in to become a global artist. And you look at some of the others that didnít take advantage of that. Something that we did with Taylor very early on, as soon as we saw that we were going to have a good foothold here, we got her off the continent to make sure that we could grow her fan base globally in real time.

You never want to leave any territory out because you never want any fan, anywhere in the world to feel, ďOh, well, they donít care about me.Ē Well, we care about every fan, so itís going to be a very important piece of this. Anywhere we see interest, weíre going to try to address it.

Eddino: Scott, you are known for your stance on Spotify. How would you advise the contestants on how they can use streaming services to help their careers after the competition?

Scott: Great question, and the problem I have with Spotify, and some of the free streaming services, is itís a one-size-fits-all concept. Well, one size does not fit all. When youíre a new and developing artist, free is fine, and what I mean by that is you need the promotional noise. You need the promotional push, but itís creating value. So once youíve created value, you donít continue to give it away. Value is value. Music has value.

So thereís a way to work with those streaming services to grow the concept and the psychology together. Itís like, okay, this is new. I want to sample it. It now has value. Iím willing to pay for it.

Eddino: Thank you.

Scott: Thank you.

Kristin: Alright, we have time for one more question. Thank you so much.

Moderator: And our final question comes from Christina Smith with Please go ahead.

Christina: Hi, Scott. Thanks so much for taking the call.

Scott: Thanks, Christina.

Christina: You know, often people talk about that intangible quality in a future star. How do you instinctively know who has that quality, and is it an instant reaction for you, or is it a feeling that sort of develops over time?

Scott: More often than not, the artist that we have at the Big Machine Label Group, it was within the first five minutes. Itís like, ďOh my God, I love this person. Lock the doors. Donít let them leave.Ē And I donít know what it is. I canít tell you exactly what it is. I canít put my finger on it. I just feel that myself and my A&R team know it when we see it, and it is that intangible, and there is a charisma about it. Itís like those handful of people just have more juice than the rest of us. And so, I wish I could give you a checklist and go, ďOkay, if you have these ten things, itís all going to work.Ē Itís never like that. And itís never the same way twice.

Christina: And just as a follow-up to that, I know you canít say who, but have you had that moment with any of the Top 12?

Scott: Yes.

Christina: Thatís good to know. Thank you.

Scott: Thank you.

Kristin: Iíd like to thank everybody for joining us today for this conference call, and a big thank you to Scott for participating. And again, weíve got American Idol on tonight at 8:00 on Fox, so we hope everyone tunes in and thank you again very, very much.

Scott: Thanks, everybody.

Kristin: Take care.

Moderator: And ladies and gentlemen, that does conclude our conference for today. Thank you for your participation, and you may now disconnect.

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