Though Ryan Kinder now finds himself as one of Warner Music Nashville’s new artists, his career nearly ended before it began. When independent label Bigger Picture Group shuttered in 2014, singer/songwriter/guitarist Kinder was among the artists who suddenly found themselves without a label home. “I didn’t know it at the time, but it was a great learning experience,” said Kinder, who had been with the label since 2012. “After that label fell apart, I remember we still had a bunch of radio shows, and we still went out and played them.”
Eventually, funds ran low and the Alabama native was forced to consider other options. Kinder said he nearly took a job driving for Uber when he got an unexpected call from one of country’s biggest stars.
“I was going to get my car checked to work for Uber, when I get this call from a Georgia number on my phone,” Kinder recalled. “It was Zac Brown. I thought it was [Kinder’s friend] Nate doing a prank on me, so I actually hung up on Zac Brown. He called back, and I was like, ‘Oh crap, it really was him.’ He helped me get out of that label deal, which blew me away that somebody of that stature would want to help someone he didn’t know from Adam. I credit Zac with saving my musical career because he took us on the road for two months, and helped me financially and every other way.”
Kinder’s music caught the attention of Warner Music Nashville President/CEO John Esposito and Executive VP/GM Peter Strickland, and Kinder soon found a new label home with Warner Music Nashville.
Kinder previewed a trio of songs during a visit to MusicRow, where he showcased his ace guitar musicianship on “Something” and his angst-ridden current single, “Tonight.”
The latter song was inspired an on-again, off-again relationship with an old girlfriend. “It’s an unrequited love song about a high school sweetheart of mine,” Kinder said. “We went to different colleges for a little while and tried to make it work. She called me at 3 a.m. one time really drunk and talking about this other guy. I was like, ‘Oh hell no.’ So we ended it right there. I was pretty bummed after the call because we had been dating for a long time. I immediately ran to a piece of paper to write down what I said to her, and it ended up being the chorus.”
Like many songwriters, Kinder channeled his heartbreak into music, crafting “Tonight” with songwriter Luke Sheets. “Tonight” was originally released in 2013 under Bigger Picture Group, but was retooled into a grittier version under the production of Paul Worley (Lady Antebellum, Dixie Chicks) for Kinder’s Warner Music Nashville release. “I’m in a really good place here,” said Kinder of his new label home.
With a new label deal and a chart-climbing radio single, it seems Uber won’t count Kinder as a driver anytime soon. “Yeah, I turned the car around after that phone call,” said Kinder.
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