As an independent artist living in Logansville, Georgia, Jordan Rager amassed an impressive online following, including 27,000 YouTube subscribers and more than 3.7 million views. Those numbers weren’t pure luck for the “Southern Boy” singer, but rather a combination of Rager’s musical talent, and a strategic move on the part of Rager’s co-manager Barry Williams.
“Barry had the idea to do YouTube videos, where if it was [Jason] Aldean or FGL [Florida Georgia Line] or whoever was putting out a new song, I would try to be the first person to cover it and put it on YouTube,” recalls Rager. “So when they searched the song, they would either get the music video, or my video.”
Viewership for the now 21-year-old’s cover videos (including Thomas Rhett’s “It Goes Like This” and Luke Bryan’s “Play It Again”) spiked, as did views of his own original material. He soon garnered the attention of professional artists like Justin Moore.
“Justin Moore YouTube searched his own cover songs, and my video was one of the first that popped up,” Rager says. An invitation from the Valory Music Co. star soon found Rager joining his Off The Beaten Path Tour.
“Every time [Barry and I] talk about it, he still goes, ‘Hey, you’re welcome,’” Rager laughs. “It ended up being a really good idea.”
Rager soon signed his first major record deal, joining the Broken Bow Records family in 2014.
“We went through the whole shopping labels, and Broken Bow felt like home,” Rager recalls. “I actually came in to BBR when I was around 19, and I played three songs by myself. I stared at my shoes the whole time because I was nervous as hell playing for a label like that. [BBR executives] Jon Loba, Carson James, and Benny Brown were in the meeting. They were like, ‘You sound good, but you’re not there yet.’ I went back to writing songs and playing shows.”
A few years later, Broken Bow execs signed the artist after seeing a progression in Rager while he performed alongside Moore and Randy Houser with signature country-rock offerings such as “Underage” and “She Might Be.”
Rager’s debut single, “Southern Boy,” featuring Jason Aldean, was just released to radio, and has already landed on Spotify’s United States Viral 50 Chart. The emotional tune was penned by Luke Laird, Barry Dean, and Rager’s producer Jeremy Stover as a tribute to Chattanooga teen Cameron Scroggins, who died of cancer at 16.
“The first time I heard it, I knew it was something special,” Rager recalls of the song. “Cameron was diagnosed with cancer at age 15, and passed away at 16. Jeremy said for that year of his life that Cameron was sick, Cameron never lost his smile. I thought this is a story that needs to be heard by people.
“We had talked about me and Jason doing a duet for a while, and everything just kind of fell together perfectly. That was the [song] that everybody—me and Jason included—wanted to go with, so I couldn’t be more thrilled to get this one out.”
Rager offered an acoustic, solo take on the single during this week’s visit with MusicRow, as well as “Party Like You,” “Underage,” and “Feels Like One Of Them.”
After hitting the road during a good portion of 2015 on a radio tour, Rager will spend most of his next several weeks in the studio, finishing up his debut project for Broken Bow.
“I’d say we are 90 percent done with the record,” says Rager.
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