Ben Rector has managed to have a wildly successful career, including sold-out tours, landing his music in numerous TV shows and movies, and garnering more than one billion streams for his songs over the past several years. The success, which all happened without the support of a major record label, is for Ben a nice by-product of the real reward for him, which is making music he loves, on his own terms, which can then be shared with others.
“The outcome is not necessarily intentional, but I think it was a time and place thing where, when I was really starting to do music professionally, that was right on the edge of iTunes,” Ben tells Everything Nash, “It was honestly also when singer-songwriter music, just in widespread popularity, was kind of slowing down a little bit. And so right about the time I was out into the world and doing music, singer-songwriter music wasn’t quite as hot as it was. Record label stuff was also slowing down a little bit. The upside as an independent artist was going up really rapidly. And so I was kind of like, ‘Man, I feel like people seem to enjoy this. I’d like to give it a go and see what we can do independently.’
“I came along at just the right time to where that was really pretty feasible,” he continues. “It grew enough that every time we would release a record, we would usually talk to record labels, and it never quite made sense, or I didn’t feel really good about the team or whatever, so I just kept doing that. It’s never been a conscious effort to be like, ‘I want to do well, but have nobody know who I am’ … I’ve never made a decision intentionally to be like, ‘I’m going to try to end up in this specific spot.’ It’s really more of the opportunities that I’ve had and kind of the options that I’ve had has led me here. And I’m super grateful to be here, but I think it’s kind of just that I came along at an interesting time in music.”
Ben earned a coveted opening spot on several tours, including on Tim McGraw and Faith Hill‘s 2017 Soul2Soul Tour. His achievements only proved to the Oklahoma native that the measure of his success could likely never be found anywhere but in his own internal satisfaction.
“I remember when it was like, ‘When I get to tour in a tour bus, I will have made it when I do that,'” Ben reflects. “And then I made it to a tour bus and it’s like, ‘Well, people have five buses.’ All of those things that have happened I’m super grateful for, but I’ve never really gotten the feeling of satisfaction from that, as much as I’ve gotten it from doing really what I hope is good work. So my real goal is I want to look back and be like, ‘Man, I did good work. And I put a good thing out into the world.'”
“I have really high expectations for my own work, but not super high expectations for what is going to happen, because this already has gone so much better than I thought it was going to go,’ he adds. “I would like to see it continue to grow, because I feel like I’m just kind of hitting my stride as a writer and performer.”