Linda Perry — the superproducer and 4 Non Blondes founder who's worked with Pink, Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera, the Dixie Chicks, and many other massive artists — is about to launch her own reality series on VH1, Make or Break: The Linda Perry Project. But she wants to make it clear that her show is totally different from American Idol and The Voice. In fact, in the cold open of the series' premiere episode, she snarkily remarks that the actual music business has nothing to do with "spinning chairs."
"I'm not trying to diss anyone, but [those shows are] not about music," Linda says, talking frankly with Yahoo Music in the practice room of her own gorgeous Kung Fu Studios, where much of The Linda Perry Project was filmed. "And these kids have to understand that that's not the 'reality' of where music comes from. American Idol is a machine. It's a machine that's making a lot of money, that's selling a lot of product. It's American Marketing.
"As for The Voice, every time the chair spins, I'm sure they hear 'cha-ching.' Because that's not about music at all, either. Really, when you watch The Voice, who's on The Voice? Who's winning? Where are those albums? I know Maroon 5 has an album out. I know Shakira put out an album. We know about those albums. So is it really about the voice of those teenagers showing up [to audition], or is it about the voice of the judges?"
Linda's show instead focuses on the artistic process, inviting a handful of experienced but under-the-radar musicians (handpicked through personal introductions, not via a casting call) to Kung Fu Gardens to hone their craft and learn from Linda's decades of experience. While the ultimate objective of the show is for Linda to sign at least one of the acts to her recently re-launched Custard Records (the label that started James Blunt's enormous career), there's no weekly elimination process or fan voting. And no spinning chairs, of course.
"There's no winner and no loser. Everyone came out of it a winner, because they all came out with something that they didn't have before," Linda says.
Linda thinks her show will clear up some fallacies about the music business, misconceptions she says are perpetuated by shows like Idol and by Internet culture. "I think right now, the generation of kids growing up with something like American Idol don't know about the business… They think all these people create you, like magic dust fairies overnight — poof, you're a star now! Or like, if you put out a YouTube video, you're going to be a sensation overnight: 'Why aren't I famous yet? How many hits do I have?'"
Linda hopes to prove that good old-fashioned rehearsing, songwriting, gigging, and dues-paying still matter in the long run. "Is it wrong to want to ask more of my artists? Shouldn't we be doing that?" she asks rhetorically. "Haven't we lowered the bar a little bit? Now we're at this place that's breaking my heart. I'm hearing these [current hit] songs, and they're OK, they're good songs. But if you put them up against a great, fantastic song, you easily hear the difference. Is it wrong to ask for more?"
Considering her disdain for typical TV talent competitions, it's unlikely that Linda would ever want to be an Idol or Voice judge — but truth is, she'd probably be great at it. Would she ever consider such a job offer?
"Listen, the only way that would ever happen is if they let me take over the show. And if they let me take over, I could give them a show that they couldn't believe," she assures. "It would be massive. It would be huge. It would be bigger than what they are doing now. Because it would be real, and it would be honest. And everybody would stay tuned."
Until then, music fans can tune in to Make or Break: The Linda Perry Project, debuting on VH1 July 16.