On The Radar: Gina Cutillo

October marks our 10 year anniversary as a company, and what better way to commemorate the last decade than interviewing our very first artist! Pop songstress Gina Cutillo has been with ReverbNation since day one, and we caught up with her to get the inside scoop on her new single “Keep On” that just debuted at #34 on Billboard Top 40 Mainstream chart, her successful sync placements, how she’s dominated as an indie artist, and more.

Hi Gina, thanks for chatting with us! You just released “Keep On,” an impassioned dance track that is already climbing the charts. It’s #1 Indie Record on New Music Weekly’s Top 40 Chart, #15 on New Music Weekly Top 40 Chart, #53 on MediaBase Top 40 Activator Chart and more (so impressive!). Why do you think this song is getting so much love from radio? Is it better than others or has the fact that you have collaborated with big names influence the radio programmer’s willingness to spin the record?
That’s a really great question and the love just keeps on coming as “Keep On” debuted last week on Billboard Top 40 mainstream chart at #34. I feel like I’m living a dream and I suppose I am..you know the one I have been having since I’m 5 yrs old. I think the track is definitely something special, I also believe my resume makes it easier but as they say hard work and timing is key. I had been working hard, networking, performing and being very active on my socials building an online fan base so people were sharing my songs and talking about what I was doing. A radio promoter was sent my ReverbNation page (Thank you Reverb!) He fell in love with my song “Fly (Feel Love Tonight)”. After many conversations and a couple of months we decided to work together. He asked me what else I had (he knew I was in the studio recording the new album) so I sent “Keep On” and that was that! He said “Fly” will be a big hit for you no doubt but this one is a big hit as well as a perfect introduction to who you are as an overall artist. Nothing is a guarantee and radio is hard to break especially for an Indie but I really believed in what I was doing and felt deep down inside there was something really special here.  

“Keep On” sits very firmly in the commercial pop camp, was that a deliberate move to get airplay?
Oh I love Pop music so yes! I do have rock influence too but my major love is a well written catchy song that you can move to. If you listen to my recent tracks they are all commercial pop. My first 2 albums had more of that rock edge but I’m sitting exactly where I have always wanted to be. Well at least for now. Growth is important to me as an artist.

You were the very first artist to join ReverbNation and it’s been amazing to watch your career over the years! Everyone is saying that it’s impossible for independent artists to make money these days, how much truth is in that statement?
Thank you!  I love that I was the first and ReverbNation has been an integral part of me growing my career and making money. I got my licensing deal through you guys and it’s good!

As for making money overall – it’s tough no doubt but I think there are actually more opportunities for Independent artists to make it in the business and to make some money now than ever before. What makes it difficult is there is so much accessibility now with internet. So many artists putting their heart and soul out there which is great but you have to find a way to stand out from the rest. Create your buzz but stay true to your craft. Have fun with yourself and know in the end you’re a product that you want people to buy – give them a reason to.

Without the help of a big team what has been the biggest struggle for you as a DIY artist?
The money!! Isn’t that everyone’s struggle? Haha. Everything costs money no matter how good you are. That’s why people sign to labels they have the bank account. Outside of that – I would say the biggest struggle was in the beginning before my resume was built up a bit. It was difficult getting access to certain people but the more you build, work your craft and network the easier that gets. Looking back in the beginning you’re probably not ready for the big people anyway.

We love your electro-pop/rock sound – who are your main influences?
Ahhh I feel these answers should always come with a timeline because I have obsessed over so many artists/bands in different times of my life. My main influences would have to be as follows.. Get ready .. lol Madonna, Nirvana and PJ Harvey. These are artists that stuck in my soul when I was a kid. I grew up in a very musical household so my first introduction to music was Motown. My mother was an amazing singer. Being on tour with Katy Perry for a few months influenced some songs on my album “The Lover”. I also love Lady Gaga, Ellie Goulding, Calvin Harris, Zedd, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Beyonce, Ayria, The Weeknd, Skrillix & Diplo, Sheryl Crow, Patsy Cline .. So many…. That Electronic thing gets me all the time. Give me a beat and a drop, some synths and I’m happy.

Through our APM Music program your music has been featured on major networks and shows including Oprah, E! Network, VH1, and more. What advice do you have for artists who are interested in sync placements?
Yes, APM is amazing to me. On a production level I would say make sure your songs are recorded and mastered professionally because they need to stand up to what is being played on the networks/radio. So many artists have these great songs but think because they have a protools system they don’t need an outside person. You always do! I have an amazing home studio and yes some of my recorded synth tracks from home get put on the final tracks but I go to my producer David Caggiano of Betamax to record and produce. Then the track gets sent to Emily Lazar at The Lodge NYC for mastering. The songs get brought to a whole other level that way. Artists shouldn’t wear all the hats. Focus on what you are good at and hire others to do what they are good at! Be truthful with your songwriting  and it will show. People will gravitate.

Sync placements were a big part of the early success of artists like Snow Patrol and Imogen Heap. Do you think licensing still has the potential to launch a career in the same way?
Great bands by the way! Yes I do! Media is an integral part of branding. I believe you have to work all avenues for exposure. Eventually they all come together like a big machine.

Do you think there’s a bias towards youth in the traditional music industry? If so, what have you learned over the years to overcome that prejudice?
I do think there is a bias towards youth in favor of and against. I do think we are closing those gaps with the new age of the music industry.  What I have learned is to just be me. I try not to put a lot of energy into things I can’t control. Keep moving forward is what I say. Believe in what you’re doing and the rest will follow. Surround yourself with good people. They understand what’s important.

You were quoted for saying, “The best feeling in the world is when someone tells you they had a better day because of your song, it’s truly what all the success comes down to.. my fans.” What are your tips for staying connected with and growing your fanbase?
We live in the world of social media so get on there and talk to them. I take out time in my day to chat online with fans. They love it. I go on in the morning, afternoon and evening to chat. It’s difficult at times but the key to your career is hard work and the fans. I’ve given music advice and support. It starts off about my music but I care about them too. One time this girl was being bullied I gave her some solid advice and she wrote me a month later saying it helped her immensely and now she loves going to school. That made all the time online worth it! I have some pretty awesome fans out there too!

Like many well-known artists these days you’re balancing your career with being a mom, what are the challenges you face around touring, recording, etc.?
It’s definitely tough at times, but so fulfilling too. I love being a Mom. I love being a musician. My son knows Mommy’s work is music. He thinks it’s cool. He’s 4!  Luckily we live in the world of technology so when I’m away I FaceTime with him, cry a little after then do what I love to do. It’s funny because when I got the call that my song debuted on Top 40 Billboard, I was in heaven, taking calls from business people congratulating me, discussing my next moves, feeling like a rock star etc.. then my son’s school called to tell me he wasn’t feeling well and like a vacuum I was brought back to reality. Haha. But really everyone works and this is what I do for a living. Some Mommy’s go on business trips or work 70 hours a weeks. It’s really no different than that, well besides my job is probably cooler. ;p

Your recent single “The Inside” was co-written with Pete Nappi who has written tracks with Meghan Trainor, Kesha and Shinedown. What would you say to people who think that co-writing detracts from the authenticity of the song?
OMG no way… Obviously you have to vibe with the person and be living somewhat in the same genre if you’re putting it on your album (Like I am). Working with Pete helped me as grow an artist and songwriter. He is a genius with sounds, keyboards, and sound production. I went to LA to record it. We wrote it in one day. Watching him pushed me. So I think it is important for an artist to co-write a little. It will only make you better. I watched Pete that day and said my next song is going to be bigger and better than anything I have ever written! Funny thing, I came back to NY and that next song was “Keep On.”

How do you find great people to collaborate with? Is it about convincing them you’re worth their time?
Networking. Being truthful with my music. Working hard on my songwriting and pushing myself.  Pete was forwarded to me by someone else I was working with for promotions. Everything has some sort of 6 degrees of separation. Pete heard and really dug my songs “Fly (Feel Love Tonight)” & “In Time” so we were introduced to each other and started a conversation first via email, phone then person. I didn’t do any convincing. People should want to work with you, that’s when great things happen, when you’re both excited and passionate.

Before we let you go, is there anything you’d like to share we didn’t cover?
Oh there’s always more but we’ll leave that for the next interview after the song is in the Billboard Top 10. 🙂 Thanks for everything. I love you guys at ReverbNation. When artists ask me advice to move their career further I always tell them to make sure you’re on ReverbNation and using all they have to offer!!! Then I talk about songwriting, networking and truth! LOL OH yea I know what we forgot go to iTunes and download “Keep On”!!

Listen to Gina Cutillo:

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KevinOn The Radar: Gina Cutillo

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