Presenting our Eighth "GVAC Song Clinic" Podcast Guest: Scott Cutler
Few contemporary music executives understand the in’s and out’s of songwriting better than CEO and founding partner of PULSE Music Group, Scott Cutler.
Perhaps that’s because the man overseeing one the music industry’s leading independent companies also happens to be a highly accomplished songwriter, musician, and producer, himself. Amongst his most notable credits are some of most iconic tracks of his era, including Natalie Imbruglia’s 1997 smash hit, “Torn” (which he originally wrote as a member of the alternative rock band, Ednaswap), Brenda Russel’s 1980 Grammy-nominated Song of the Year, “Piano in the Dark'', and Beyoncé’s Critic's Choice Award- winning "Listen" from the motion picture “Dreamgirls.” He’s collaborated with some of the industry's top female artists including Madonna, Sinéad O'Connor, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, and many more.
Since pivoting into the business side of the industry, Cutler “the executive” has continued to build upon the momentum of his award-winning songwriting career, as evidenced by his conclusion in Billboard’s Power 100 in 2020 and Indie Power Players list in 2018. Under his leadership, PULSE’s roster has amassed a combined 60 BMI and ASCAP song awards and more than 20 billion music streams for some of today’s biggest hits, including Harry Styles' "Watermelon Sugar," Megan Thee Stallion's "Savage remix feat. Beyoncé,” and Drake's "Toosie Slide."
On this week’s podcast episode of “Give Vance a Chance- Song Clinic,” the charismatic artist-exec sat down with our host, Ronny Vance, to chat about the most rewarding and challenging aspects of of his storied songwriting career, what drove him to shift into the business side of the industry, and the qualities he looks for in PULSE’s potential signees.
As always, here are some of our favourite soundbites from the episode:
On what drove him to write music:
I started in college really pursuing songwriting as a kind of a tool to process my feelings, you know, trying to get a girl back,...all that stuff. ‘[I figured] I’ll write a song, I'll play it for her, she's going to love me again,’ all those things. And then it became a yearning, and then, just like all songwriters that are committed, I did it with a passion every day of my life for twenty odd years.
On what attributed to his success as a songwriter:
I didn't ever let a moment go by and I was never passive. I was leaning in and was very present at all times to what was happening, to take advantage of every opportunity.
On his biggest challenges as a songwriter:
Two things about being a songwriter that I found difficult- one was [that] it was just very repetitive. It was a weird sense of unfinished-ness at all times. So you would finish a song and you'd have a very quick moment of a kind of happiness and then you woke up the next day and you kind of started over and I would imagine some people found that joyful, but I found it burdensome. I was just always in my head and I was always reaching for something I couldn't quite get to. And when you play the game of Songwriting, you might write a hundred songs and you might get a few of them recorded if you're lucky. So it's all very personal at some point, like ‘what do you mean you don't like my song? It was very hurtful. What makes you a songwriter can be your sensitivity, but it's also painful.
On his motivation to start his own publishing company:
I thought, well, maybe these young writers will motivate me and help me kind of stay current, and then it kind of turned into ‘hey, this is a really great creative exercise. It's as satisfying as songwriting.’ The creative process shifted from a three minute song to a company, to a collection of people.
On his most practical songwriting advice:
Write more [songs]. I get songs from young people and I go ‘great, well, now send me your best song. Don't send me the song you think I'm going to like.’ I mean what you think is your best song, because often there's some personal song in there they don't send. So I always try to figure [that] out and then I always say, ‘okay, now do that a hundred more times.’ It's just like being a gymnast, or a ballet dancer…it's a craft.
For Scott’s full interview, and more episodes in our podcast series, click here