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Oct 1

Scott and Sandi Borchetta are funding music education with a new grant program – Tennessean

As Nashville record company Big Machine celebrates 15 years of chart-topping success, label founder Scott Borchetta says hes setting sights on investing in the future of music.

Borchetta and wife Sandi Borchetta launched this week a $150,000 fund to aid non-profit music schools and education projects. The money plans to be distributed in $10,000 grants to 15 qualifying programs.

Applications opened Thursday via Music Has Value, a fund launched by the couple in 2015 to support those who make music, aspire to make music, and access and appreciate music.

Theres just not enough support in music education, said Scott Borchetta, the 58-year-old president and CEO of Big Machine, label home to Tim McGraw, Thomas Rhett, Sheryl Crow and more. Theres a lot of big challenges that the education system has. We look at this as a long-term investment in the culture of music.

Scott Borchetta, President and CEO, Big Machine Label Group was given the honor of saying "gentleman start your engines" during the 2019 Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019.(Photo: Michelle Pemberton/IndyStar)

Read along for highlights from an interview with Borchetta about the new program and how Big Machineapproaches new music after 15 years.

Who earns a shareof the $150,000 grant remains mostly open-ended. The application asks for a brief description of the project, how it plans to be implemented and what impact may look like, but doesnt demand how the money must be spent.

It would be foolish for someone not on the ground floor to decide what resources teachers or students need, Borchetta said.

We wanna empower those people who are requesting it, Borchetta said. And give them ownership. When you do that, the pride rings through so loudly and that passes on to the kids.

And the seismic impact of COVID-19 on education didnt sway his decision to implement these funds, but it did elevate the needs for so many, he said.

What they need is support and they need financial aid, Borchetta said. And theyre on the ground with those kids.

Meg Rush, MD, MMHC, President of Monroe Carell Jr. Childrens Hospital at Vanderbilt talks with Gary LeVox of Rascal Flatts as Big Machine Label Group founder/president/ceo Scott Borchetta gets a hug from Sheryl Crow after the ribbon cutting for a 23-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Monroe Carrell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn. Monday, Feb. 24, 2020.(Photo: Larry McCormack / The Tennessean)

Fifteen grants coincide with a decade-and-a-half of Borchetta spearheading Big Machine, an anniversary that arrives in an unprecedented year for music business. Due to COVID-19 precautions, touring remains indefinitely halted and music promotion continues to be a virtual exercise for most artists.

Still, despite the heavyweight gut punch tossed by the global pandemic in March, Big Machine continues to roll out music from notable Nashville artists at capacity, Borchetta said. For example, the label pushed McGraws new studio album Here On Earth, to No. 1 on Billboards Top Country Album chart this summer and, this week, scored the most country radio ads for a new Pearce single, Next Girl.

And, as streaming molds modern music consumption habits, Borchetta said the label continues to focus on single releases.

Scott Borchetta and wife Sandi on the red carpet at Music City Center before the start of the 51st annual CMA Awards Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017 in Nashville, Tenn.(Photo: George Walker IV / tennesssean.com)

(Fans) consume music faster than ever, they dont want 15 or 20 songs at a time, Borchetta said, adding: If you pull apart the biggest consuming albums every week, its not that all of those tracks have huge consumption, its a handful of them. You still want platinum-consuming albums. But you need those big singles that can cross terrestrial (radio) and digital boundaries. You have to have that.

Theres not a world where we can survive that we dont have hundreds of millions of streams. We are there.

How does Borchetta approach the future? With a deep bench, he said.

I always refer to the label as the Lakers, Borchetta said. Whether it was Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabar or Kobe Bryant and Shaq and now LeBron -- youre always going to have superstars. Were always working on making sure weve got that deep bench.

And he said filling that bench with the next line of top talent never gets old.

That probably drives me, Borchetta said, adding: I still love getting No. 1 records. Thats always exciting. Between discovery and success falls everything else.

More information on the $150,000 Music Has Value grant can be found atmusichasvalue.com.

Read or Share this story: https://www.tennessean.com/story/money/2020/10/01/scott-borchetta-big-machine-music-has-value-education-grant-donation/3566356001/

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Scott and Sandi Borchetta are funding music education with a new grant program - Tennessean

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