Home Business & Ventures PULSE Records’ Josh Abraham and Scott Cutler talk artist development and Tommy Richman’s viral hit MILLION DOLLAR BABY

PULSE Records’ Josh Abraham and Scott Cutler talk artist development and Tommy Richman’s viral hit MILLION DOLLAR BABY

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A lot can change in a year. Last summer, prominent Los Angeles-based pop publisher PULSE Music Group expanded into the record label space in partnership with Concord.

Not long after launching PULSE Records, the company set up a joint venture with R&B star Brent Faiyaz to develop artists. PULSE Music Group had already been working with Faiyaz on the publishing side since 2016 and he renewed his global publishing deal with the company in 2022.

Tommy Richman was the first signing to PULSE Records in partnership with Faiyaz and Darren Xu’s ISO Supremacy label. (Xu is also now Tommy Richman’s manager).

PULSE Records is led by PULSE Music Group founders and co-CEOs Scott Cutler and Josh Abraham, along with Ashley Calhoun, President, PULSE Music Group.

When Tommy Richman signed with PULSE Records last summer, he was a rising LA-based artist with just over 296,000 monthly listeners on Spotify.

Today, he has 46.4 million monthly listeners on the platform – 9.5 million more than the Beatles (36.9m) – and his new smash hit MILLION DOLLAR BABY is currently spending its fourth week atop Spotify’s Weekly Top Songs Global chart.

Released on April 26, Richman’s MILLION DOLLAR BABY blasted to No.1 on Spotify’s global chart right out of the gate and debuted at No.2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

It’s also just hit No.1 on the Billboard Global 200, having already reached No.1 on the Billboard Streaming Songs chart, Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop, and the Billboard R&B chart.

Oh, and it’s also currently the most Shazamed track in the United States.

According to Chartmetric data analyzed by MBW, MILLION DOLLAR BABY has been streamed over 279.2 million times on Spotify alone since its release on April 26 and is averaging 8.89 million streams daily on Spotify (see below). The MILLION DOLLAR BABY (VHS) version has also racked up an additional 41.2 million streams on Spotify.

“Right now, we’re averaging 18 million streams a day [across all platforms] but we’re also seeing a lift in his entire discography, so the impact is happening for Tommy as an artist, beyond this incredible single,” PULSE Music Group founder and co-CEO Scott Cutler tells us.

“We’re full throttle, and have a good plan in place to keep this momentum going for him.”

Tommy Richman uploaded MILLION DOLLAR BABY to TikTok on the night of April 13, just after he completed recording it in the studio.

Cutler says the track “just took off,” and the PULSE Records/ISO Supremacy team quickly devised a plan to release the single on April 26.

“We received the final masters on April 23, so the whole team was hustling to set this up with DSPs, pitch their partners, and we had a strong plan in place It takes around 48 to set something up on DSPs, ” explains Cutler.

“The team saw that fans were really engaging with the bass on that TikTok version, so, the team collectively decided to put out a VHS version of the single as well. 48 hours before the release, we were able to get the VHS version on DSPs, and the moment it was released it just broke through.”

MILLION DOLLAR BABY’s success signals a significant milestone for PULSE Music Group’s record label, which only just launched in June 2023 in partnership with Concord. The label is supported by Concord’s existing label services platform and administrative teams, with the record label venture marking a new phase in the companies’ existing relationship.

Concord and PULSE Music Group first entered into an exclusive A&R-driven joint venture in 2020, following the news that Concord Music Publishing had acquired Fujipacific Music’s stake in PULSE Music Group to become the majority owner of PULSE Music Group. Our sources suggested at the time that the acquisition was valued at north of $100 million.

PULSE Music Group was founded in 2008 by songwriters and producers Scott Cutler, Josh Abraham, and Anne Preven and its roster of writers and producers are credited with more than 200 million units of recorded music sales and more than 75 billion music streams.

With 250 active clients, PULSE Music Group has amassed over 350 Gold & Platinum certifications and the company’s writers currently have six songs on Beyoncé’s US No.1 album Cowboy Carter.

Looking to the future, Cutler tells us that PULSE Records’ long-term goals “are the same as those of our music publishing company.”

“Whoever is the best in their lane, we want to work with. The one of ones,” he says. “That formula works for us every time. We don’t look at metrics. We just look at talent.

“We’re signing people that have zero metrics, but we’re completely confident it’s gonna go. That’s just our ethos [and] has been for the last 15 years.”

Here, PULSE Music Group founders and co-CEOs Josh Abraham and Scott Cutler discuss PULSE Records, artist development and the breakout success of Tommy Richman’s MILLION DOLLAR BABY.

PULSE Music Group expanded into the record label space in June 2023 as a JV with Concord. Why did you decide to launch a record label at the time, having already built successful publishing and management arms?

Josh Abraham: I had always envisioned PULSE as a label, but at the time that I started PULSE, record sales were struggling with people downloading music for free. So it occurred to me to first approach this as a music publishing company.

For that, I needed to reach out to Scott Cutler and his writing partner Anne Preven, who were songwriters at the time, who I thought had the right taste and similar ethics to build a publishing company with.

At the time of the launch of PULSE Records, Concord said that it would be “doubling down on its already successful partnership” with PULSE. How is PULSE Records positioned within the Concord Label Group today?

Scott Cutler: In 2020, we announced an exclusive joint venture music publishing business with Concord. That A&R driven joint venture capitalized our continued expansion of PULSE Music Group and increased our ability to invest in the brightest talent supported by Concord’s global administration platform. Through that JV, we have seen a lot of success — PULSE and Concord proved a strong collaboration in publishing some of the highest charting songs in the world.

By June 2023, we decided to launch the PULSE Records label venture with Concord as well. In our label venture, our PULSE Records team leads A&R, creative, marketing, and digital services while Concord provides us with a global footprint, financial resources, administration, and other label services for PULSE Records. We are a true joint venture, capitalizing on both company’s unique strengths.

You signed a JV with Brent Faiyaz to develop artists not long after launching PULSE Records. I know you’ve had a long relationship with Brent on the publishing side, but what made Brent an appealing artist to team up with on a JV for the record label?

Scott Cutler: The actual case of the Brent Faiyaz JV on the label side is that we both knew we wanted to sign Tommy, and with our long relationship, publishing Brent for the last seven years, it was an easy decision to just team up and do it together.

How did you discover, meet, and come to sign Tommy Richman?

Josh Abraham: Bel Mesbahi [Creative Director, A&R for PULSE Music Group/PULSE Records] was interested in Tommy and brought him to our attention within the first month of launching PULSE Records. There was always a scene gathering around Tommy, so Bel brought Ashley Calhoun [President, PULSE Music Group] to Tommy’s show at the Echo so that they could scout him.

“Tommy’s performance and stage presence absolutely just blew them away.”

Tommy’s performance and stage presence absolutely just blew them away. Ashley and Bel and the rest of the crew from PULSE Records felt that everyone in that venue was there to see Tommy, because after Tommy cleared out, everyone else did too.

So at this show, Ashley and Bel happen to run into Brent [Faiyaz], and said: ‘Hey, what are you doing here?’ That’s when we realized we all kind of saw the same thing in Tommy, and that’s when we all dug in and decided to partner up to sign him.

 Could you speak about the strategy behind Tommy’s audience growth over the past year?

Scott Cutler: In one respect our strategy is always the same — we do what’s best for the artist. We knew Tommy would eventually have a breakthrough because he’s a special talent. We just kept moving his projects forward one song at a time, one day at a time, until the song MILLION DOLLAR BABY came to be.

“Our strategy is always the same — we do what’s best for the artist.”

We had already put out THE RUSH EP, we had done the foundational work with Tommy, and then one day he wanted to come in and play us an album. He had made a finished album.

And it’s spectacular. So we’re all sitting in a room as he plays us the album, and we just knew we had to move quickly to prepare the groundwork for it. What do we want to do to set up the record?

We had a conversation about Tommy giving us a couple of songs that we can put out one by one. One of those songs was MILLION DOLLAR BABY.

MILLION DOLLAR BABY is a huge hit in the US and globally. What is it about the track and Tommy as an artist that has been resonating with audiences over the past few weeks?

Josh Abraham: It’s a special song and artist. When a song is as big as this, it’s usually just music that transcends whatever else is out there at the time. It’s Tommy’s time. It’s Tommy’s sound. It stands out.

Can Tommy’s success with MILLION DOLLAR BABY be replicated with additional tracks, and will Tommy’s commercial success pave the way for future PULSE Records artists?

Scott Cutler: Yes. Tommy has an album ready to be put out which is coming imminently. And it’s tremendous. Since this song has captured everyone’s attention, we’re now in an even stronger position to help our artists.

Can you tell us about some of the key people working at PULSE Records today?

Josh Abraham: We wanted to amplify Tommy’s artistry through a smart and capable project team, customized specifically for Tommy’s success. Ashley Calhoun gave a huge assist on the Brent Faiyaz/ISO side, as she originally signed Brent Faiyaz to our PULSE Music Group pubco back in 2016 and then renewed the deal in 2022 and was instrumental in the JV. Tommy Richman’s team at PULSE Records also includes Tizita Makuria who is on the A&R team working alongside with Bel Mesbahi on the campaign.

Sara Ahmed, Vice President of Marketing for PULSE Records is handling marketing. Nick Barr is running digital for Tommy. This has been a team effort and, as it was one of the first, if not the first, signing to the label, and everyone on the PULSE Records team has been working hard to catapult Tommy’s career.

Scott Cutler: Having a small but highly experienced team focusing full attention on a highly curated roster is the best way to truly create a breakthrough moment for artists. That’s our ethos, and we think that’s the best way. I think we’ve proved that already with Tommy.

[The full PULSE Records team today includes: Tim Glover, President of A&R, PULSE Records; Lauryn Caldwell, SVP/Head of Marketing, PULSE Records; Nick Barr, Senior Vice President, PULSE Records; Tizita Makuria, Vice President of Creative, PULSE Music Group/PULSE Records; Sara Ahmed, Vice President of Marketing, PULSE Records; Bel Mesbahi, Creative Director, A&R, PULSE Music Group/PULSE Records; Jewels Bulger, Sr. Art Director, PULSE Records; Bernard Bennet-Green, Director of Sales and Streaming, PULSE Records and Alana Aquino, Digital Manager, PULSE Records.]

What are the biggest challenges for record labels today and how is PULSE Records meeting those challenges?

Scott Cutler: Patience and artist development. There just doesn’t seem to be time at other labels to develop an artist and to have that patience. That’s why I think we’re doing so well, so quickly. We’ve been with Tommy for about a year and we’ve just really stayed focused on it every day.

Could you highlight any other recent PULSE Records signings?

Josh Abraham: The roster’s forming, and we’ll let everyone know very soon, but we have signed some really talented people that we’re excited about. When it’s the right time, we’ll introduce them.Music Business Worldwide

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