In Commercial Music, Guest Artists

Rector encouraged students to pursue musical collaboration regardless of fame or fortune

Ben Rector meets with commercial music students and members of BYU Vocal Point during his campus visit. (Courtney Mortenson)

The School of Music invited renowned pop star Ben Rector to lead a masterclass for commercial music students and members of BYU Vocal Point prior to his headline performance at the BYU Homecoming Spectacular

Gathered in the Cougar Room at the north end of the BYU Marriott Center, a group of nearly 30 students had the unique opportunity to participate in an intimate Q&A with the singer-songwriter.

In response to student questions, Rector shared details of his self-driven rise to popularity, a journey which included most of the typical challenges of the commercial music industry, such as the struggle to be noticed.

Receiving critical attention and acclaim was only the first step in his journey to fame, however. After attaining popularity, Rector faced new challenges, including expanding his skill set not only as an artist, but also as a producer and manager.

Rector recounted his evolution from aspiring artist to jack-of-all trades in the realm of pop music and music management. Today his role in developing his art and managing his personal brand has become a task of keeping the “train rolling.” When others are willing to jump on, he welcomes the opportunity to collaborate, but he doesn’t allow the decisions of others to dictate his progress. 

Additionally, Rector acknowledged his own tendency toward perfectionism and how that could have inhibited his personal creativity if he worked largely in isolation. He has been able to overcome this challenge by consistently coproducing material with other talented artists. 

“I’m pretty obsessive and I realized that my output would be limited a lot if I was producing alone,” said Rector. “I do co-produced all of my music, but it’s with people who are very fast and very talented — I think it’s always been helpful.”

Though addressing difficult aspects of the commercial music industry, Rector provided an overall message of hope and encouragement. 

Ben Rector shares advice on collaboration and finding fulfillment in music, regardless of fame and fortune. (Courtney Mortenson)

“If you get to produce music on a high level, awesome. And if you don’t, you’re not missing out on anything,” said Rector. “You really aren’t, and I know that sounds crazy, but it’s not. So enjoy the parts of it that you can and go as far as you can with it.”

This message struck a chord with commercial music student Andy Brewer. 

“Even if you don’t become the next big thing and your dreams don’t suddenly materialize, that’s okay,” said Brewer. “It won’t make you any happier, and you’re not going to be any sadder if it doesn’t happen. I think that was good for me to hear because I need to set aside my high expectations and just make sure that I’m living a life that’s fulfilling instead of stressing so much about being the next big thing.”

As Rector counseled students on the importance of consistency, he promised them that if “everything you make can be good enough that people hear it and want to share it, good things are going to happen.”

Commercial music student Chance Anderson was also grateful for Rector’s guidance. 

“The opportunity to hear from someone so knowledgeable and skilled was very inspiring and built my confidence in my ability to one day be a part of the music industry.”

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BYU School of Music Gamelan Bintang Wahyu