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2023 Billboard Music Awards Producers Answer 15 Burning Questions About Show’s New Format

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It’s no secret that awards show ratings on traditional TV platforms have been declining, even though fan engagement in the form of social media is up. Fans want the buzzy moments and maybe to find out who won, but they aren’t as inclined to sit for three or four hours and watch the show unfold in real time.

So producers are trying to come up with fresh approaches and figure out how to survive and thrive in this challenging environment. That’s one reason that the team behind the 2023 Billboard Music Awards have created a fresh format. Performances and awards will roll out across BBMAs and Billboard social channels, as well as via BBMAs.watch, on Sunday, Nov. 19.

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In what is billed as a first-of-its-kind collaboration, the BBMAs and Spotify “Fans First” will bring fans up-close-and-personal with their favorite artists at performances and award celebrations taking place around the globe, in the midst of sold-out tours and in custom venues.

Nine new categories are being added this year, including four K-pop awards and two for Afrobeats, as well as top Hot 100 songwriter, top Hot 100 producer and top rock duo/group.

To find out more about the 2023 Billboard Music Awards Presented by Marriott Bonvoy, we quizzed two of the show’s producers, Maddy Mesevage, SVP, marketing for dick clark productions, and Alexi Mazareas, DCP’s VP, programming & development, to answer all the burning questions around the revamped awards show.

Do you agree with the premise that producers are trying to come up with fresh approaches and figure out how to survive and thrive in this challenging environment?

Mesevage: When conceptualizing a newly reimagined BBMAs, it was important for us to put the artists and fans first, leaning into the existing viewing habits of today’s audience to create an awards show that speaks to a new generation. Similar to how music consumption has shifted, with 85% of music consumed digitally, how fans engage with their favorite artists and view content has also shifted. So this year, the BBMAs is meeting fans everywhere they are, and everywhere they already consume music and content.  

How has the creative community reacted to this new concept for the show? What are the main questions you’re getting from artists as they approach the new concept?

Mazareas: The new concept has resonated with both artist teams and the creative community as it allows an unprecedented amount of flexibility for an awards show performance. Not being restricted to a single stage or location, we are approaching each performance as a blank slate where we can collaborate with artists to create something totally unique, and bring on creative team members specifically curated to execute that vision. We’re partnering with best-in-class creative directors, world-renowned choreographers, and of course each artist’s creative team to make every one of these performances really special. Productions will take place all around the world from a variety of locations, each with their own vision and identity.

Are you telling top artists “Give us a four-minute performance and we’ll run it,” or is it more of a collaboration between the show and the artist?

Mazareas: This is a true collaboration between the artists, dick clark productions, and some amazing creative partners. We’ll collectively develop each concept, build a bespoke execution plan based on that vision, and then jump in together. The BBMAs team is heavily involved in all phases of the process, but our core goal is to facilitate the artist’s vision and help that vision come to life. Each production is completely unique.

The BBMAs used to be a three-hour show that aired from 8-11. Could someone who likes the traditional awards show format tune in to the show in that same way if they wanted?

Mesevage: Content will roll out directly to fans, including performances, exclusive interviews, and acceptance speeches across BBMAs and Billboard social channels; artists’ social platforms; BBMAs.watch, which takes viewers to a central curation page on Billboard.com; as well as Harmony, PMC’s proprietary live streaming platform, which saw record viewership for this year’s Streamy Awards at 15 million views and Billboard Women in Music with 57 million views.    

Will there be a host or presenter to welcome the audience and make transitions and say “good night”?

Mazareas: Since this is such a non-traditional format, we are moving away from traditional host and presenter patterns. The goal is to really lean in to each unique performance and winner celebration that connects the artists and their biggest fans.

Will any of the performances be live? Will they all be new performances, recorded specifically for the show? Will any of them be pre-existing clips?

Mazareas: They will all be pre-recorded. All performances are exclusive to the BBMAs.

Will artists accept awards on the show or appear in some capacity even if they aren’t going to perform?

Mazareas: Yes, artists will accept awards, and with Spotify’s help, some will celebrate their winning moments with the fans who helped them reach the top of the charts.

In the absence of a live broadcast, will there be opportunities for spontaneous moments that often arise at awards shows?

Mesevage: We have created a scenario to give viewers an exciting new experience. We are leaning into the strengths of what this adapted format provides. We are not trying to re-create a live show environment. With that in mind, each taping lends itself to spontaneous moments and content that will feel truly unique to our 2023 BBMAs. 

Another attraction of awards shows is that all your favorite stars are gathered into one place for one night. They watch each other rehearse and perform and cheer each other on. Will there be any of that?

Mazareas: Those are always great moments, but we are not focused on trying to replicate that element.  We are leaning into the flexibility the new format allows to create completely original and unique performance, that prioritize both artist creativity and the fan experience. 

With TV ratings, it’s very clear how many (or how few) people watched the show, but how will it be measured here?

Mesevage: We will measure the audience based on views and engagement across BBMAs content.

How else will you evaluate the success of the show?

Mesevage: Success for us is not solely how many views the content receives. What we are doing with the BBMAs is re-evaluating the value proposition for the talent involved and the fans that both watch BBMAs content and consume artist content and music. We are interested in bringing value to artists and to fans. For us, working through how we can continue to further hone in on those elements will create success in the short and long term. We are also looking at how thoughtfully and intentionally we can work with brand partners within this new model and are excited to be working with Spotify, Lexus and Marriott.

The show’s new November air date means that the eligibility period now syncs up with the year-end Billboard charts. Have you been getting a favorable response to that new timing?

Mesevage: Everyone has been supportive of the change, and we’re now uniquely positioned as the only year-end awards show that’s dedicated to celebrating the year’s best in music. 

How does the Spotify partnership come into play? What creative involvement do they have in the show via their “Fans First” program?

Mesevage: The Spotify partnership allows us to identify fans who have consumed vast amounts of  music over the past year of our performers and helped drive their favorite artists to the top spots on the Billboard charts. These fans will receive a “golden ticket,” granting them a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see their favorite artist up close, in an intimate setting. 

The BBMAs is unique among music awards shows because winners are determined by year-end performance metrics on the Billboard charts, which are data-driven. Fans’ consumption habits are the driving force behind this data, so the partnership with Spotify is naturally synergistic because Spotify is where many fans consume music. Together, we’re able to unite artists with their biggest fans who have directly impacted their success on the charts through streaming.

Spotify’s Fans First program offers exclusive rewards and privileges like one-of-a-kind concerts, personal artist experiences, and more. Spotify has been a great collaborative partner in working with us to create memorable and fun experiences for these top fans.

Will there be a special effort to spotlight the nine new categories on the show, including four K-pop and two Afrobeats categories?

Mazareas: There will be special global moments in the show spotlighting some of the new categories, including a couple that K-pop fans will not want to miss.

How many awards will be presented on the show? How many will be otherwise revealed or announced on the show?

Mazareas: We plan to reveal all winners on the BBMAs in a variety of ways.

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