There are going to be some changes with The Launch when it returns in 2019, promises series co-creator Scott Borchetta in an exclusive interview with FYIMusicNews.
Borchetta, better known at the moment as the founder, president and CEO of Big Machine Label Group, home to megastar Taylor Swift, Sugarland, Justin Moore and others, says the six-episode, Toronto-filmed series, produced in partnership with Bell Media, is "going to move faster."
"We'll be cutting to the chase a lot quicker," he explains. "Because of the way we chose to shoot the first season, it didn't have a lot of the edge that took place on the audition floor or in the studio. So, you're going to see more edge to the show."
Borchetta, the sole individual in a shuffle of superstar mentors and established songwriter/producers who appeared in all seven episodes, also says the appearance of "a second chair" is currently being discussed to add some continuity.
"We might have another person with me through the whole season to keep that conversation going from week to week," Borchetta says. "That's a possibility."
Overall, Borchetta says he's pleased with the first season that produced a bonafide smash hit with the Ryan Tedder-Zack Skelton-Camilla Cabello co-write "Ain't Easy" that was recorded by Ottawa duo Elijah Woods and Jamie Fine. The song generated 5M Spotify streams, 1.5M YouTube views, a platinum record and substantial success at Canadian radio.
Additionally, the show had successes with #1 iTunes debuts by Logan Staats' "The Lucky Ones." and Poesy's "Soldier Of Love;" (co-written by Grammy-and-Oscar-nominated Canuck Stephan Moccio). The Launch also gave launch to Top 10 debuts to The Static Shift's "Wide Awake" and Ethan Young's "Giants" (also a Moccio co-write), and a Top 20 landing for Jayd Ink's "Codes."
"The overall excitement about being picked up for a second season is incredible," notes Borchetta. "More than anything, what I'm most proud of is that we have proof of concept: we can take a great producer with a song that we think is really competitive and find the right artist and give them a boost to their career. Elijah and Jamie just turned platinum on 'Ain't Easy', and that's why we got picked up - we have proof of concept."
As for the TV ratings, there's no question The Launch had an impressive debut. Its January 10, 2018 premiere scored 1.14M viewers on CTV, CTV Two, Much, VRAK, and Canal Vie.
However, subsequent program viewers took a hit in rating numbers, which Borchetta attributes to the fact that there might have been too much "documentary" inserted into the show.
"There are certain rules of television and viewers had certain expectations. They liked the auditions. They hadn't seen the recording process before, so they were fascinated by that, but I think we have to do a better job of explaining it. The fact there was a song at the end of every episode was off-the-hook successful, but we need to move it along faster and be more specific. We left a couple of things more grey and documentary style, and that will go away."
As for the fluctuating success of chosen songs, Borchetta admits that the pace of releasing them weekly over a month-and-a-half placed a lot of demand on the market.
"Four of the six went to Number 1 on iTunes and stuck," he says. "We had great first and second weeks on pretty much everything. And then the Elijah and Jamie was probably the easiest one for iHeart to program. We had a Top 10 rock track with The Static Shift; we had a Top 20 AC hit with Logan - and they all made some significant dent in on the sales and airplay charts.
"You know, you're not going to bat 1,000 in this space. The fact is, we've done better in the first season than all of the other shows. I never take it for granted. We always put our best foot forward in trying to get the best songs from producers, and you're not always going to win."
Borchetta also says that Big Machine is committed to developing the careers of those Launch artists whose options he picked up.
"You haven't heard the last from them by any stretch.," he declares. "It takes time. We're talking about what the second single for Elijah and Jamie will be, in real time. We're looking at next moves for Poesy and Static Shift."
And he'll be shortly introducing Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine to the U.S. market.
"Elijah and Jamie are in L.A. as we start to set up 'Ain't Easy' for the States, and other territories are likely to pick it up," Borchetta explains.
"The great thing about Elijah and Jamie is that they had a record practically done when they came to the show, so they're very realized. For an act that has already had experience in recording, that's what this show is trying to do: We're not trying to take somebody who hasn't had any experience. We're looking at acts that are ready for this kind of opportunity because it's on the super fast track.
"If you look at Poesy - she can play anywhere around the world. You look at the Static Shift - we're starting to see with other rock bands around the world - we have so many opportunities now with through streaming and to reach out to other places globally, that I think this music plays very, very well."
With a June 11 deadline to submit audition recordings for The Launch's second season, the recent sales of the series' international rights to Sony Pictures Television and a British version in development, Borchetta feels pumped about the show's future - and especially about its artist development potential.
"If you look at what this truly is, it's an A&R mission, and it's a big opportunity to continue your career. It's about the artists. This is a path we've chosen to take very aggressively. There was so much good will and success that came out of season one that it left us with the feeling that there's a lot to build on."
"The concept is the same as about starting with a great producer and a world-class song. That's going to be the broad stroke narrative of the show in all territories."