Exclusive: Cassadee Pope Explains Risky Decision to Leave Big Machine Records

Cassadee Pope is happy to be on her own. The Season 3 winner of The Voice released her freshman album, Frame by Frame, and two EPs on Big Machine Records, before deciding that her creative freedom mattered more to her than the security of a big label.

"I had been feeling like I needed a change for a while, and I started to get to the point where I started to feel creatively stunted," Pope tells PopCulture.com. "When I felt like I couldn't write a song without worrying about where it was going to go or if it was going to see the light of day, that's when I knew there was a problem. Because I find songwriting to be really therapeutic, and it's really the best way for me to express myself, and it's the easiest way. So when that started to go away, that's when I knew something had to change."

Pope knew it was a risk to choose to make music on her terms, instead of bowing to the demands of a record label, especially when female artists are struggling to get the same airplay as their male counterparts, but it was one she was willing to take.

"I think I just realized that if I don't do it and I don't take a risk, first of all, I'm going to always wonder 'What if?' And then I'm always going to be under somebody else, and ultimately giving somebody the last say. Because when you're on a record label, they have the ultimate power. That's fine, because they have the resources and they're funding it and everything, and thankfully I had some great success with Big Machine, and I'm still civil with everybody. There's no bad blood at all," Pope says.

"But I was at the point where I realized that if I'm going to fail and I'm going to make a mistake, I want it to be because it was a decision I made, and it was a song that I really believed in, that I poured my heart into and that people didn't like or didn't get. I'd rather blame myself than wish I would have spoken up," she adds.

Pope is back at radio with "Take You Home," an uptempo tune about something that resonated closely with Pope.

"It is a song about meeting somebody and having an instant connection, and wanting to show them more about yourself, and not just going home and having a fling," says Pope. "You want to bring them to the place that shaped you. In my case, that's West Palm Beach, Florida, and Vandergrift, Pennsylvania. I have two places that I feel like would explain who I am, because I spent a lot of time in both places."

Pope is a songwriter, but she isn't afraid to record someone else's songs, especially if it's something that resonates personally with her.

"Whenever I hear an outside song, I'm like, 'OK, could I have written this, and do I wish I wrote it?' And it just hit all the checkpoints. I've started to play it live and getting great reactions. It's just got this tempo that people groove to. So it all around feels like a really good reintroduction to the format," Pope says.

Pope, who will return to The Voice to serve as a mentor with Kelly Clarkson for a few episodes, feels grateful that her time on the reality TV talent show allowed her to create a fanbase that, thankfully, still supports her today.

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"I'm lucky to have gathered a pretty amazing group of fans, and I'm not a new artist that's starting out from scratch," Pope acknowledges. "I feel like I've laid down some groundwork. It is a risk, to lose the conglomerate behind you, but at least I have a core fan base that's going to stick with me, and I have champions in town,and in the industry that are going to support me and be there for me. So it feels like the support is there."

Photo Credit: Instagram/CassadeePope