By Angela Hickey
Many artists are best known for their one song that constantly plays on the radio. And if you’re lucky, your song becomes a huge hit, and a claim to fame, which is true for the artist this week. After his song “Let Me Down Slowly” hit the music scene, Alec Benjamin hasn’t slowed down since.
The 25 year-old singer-songwriter from Phoenix, Arizona wasn’t an instant success though. In an interview with Time Magazine, he said his start was a complete and total fluke, volunteering to sing at his summer camp, and finding he really enjoyed music. Soon after, he taught himself to play guitar and created a series of mixtapes that eventually got him signed with Columbia Records at the age of 19.
But his career didn’t take off instantaneously, spending most of his time putting on what the star liked to call “parking-lot shows” outside of venues that featured bigger stars like Shawn Mendes and Troye Sivan. The artist counted about 170 shows, and even played an event similar to MAGcon but on a smaller scale, offering to play the event for free.
This lead him to a sort of tour with the convention, driving to different US cities every week to perform for 300 kids in hotel ballrooms. Benjamin also got his music out there by performing on YouNow, a streaming platform where users would watch one another perform. Sometimes Benjamin would wait all day to get the first position in order to sing for people.
Then, after a long period of hard work and nothing to show for it, he was dropped by Columbia Records. Forced to move back home and drop out of the University of Southern California, where he was studying at the time. This was only the first of many downhill experiences for the struggling artist.
After being dropped by Columbia Records, Benjamin didn’t own any of the rights to his own songs, which meant he was unable to share his work on any streaming service and without any money, he was unable to produce any new songs either. So, Benjamin recorded tracks on his iPhone or at a friends house, and uploaded them to YouTube, but soon, things began to turn around for the young performer.
In 2017, a 12 year-old boy named Merrick Hanna performed a dance to one of Benjamin’s songs “I Built a Friend”, causing the song to gain popularity. Many record labels began to notice Benjamin and his talent, and soon he signed with Atlantic Records on February 1, 2018. Miles Beard, Vice President of A&R at Artist Publishing Group was astounded by Benjamins resourcefulness and creativity. When talking to Billboard, Beard revealed a lot about his earlier time with Benjamin.
“Alec told me two goals of his,” Beard remembers of their early time together. “One: ‘I want kids in high school to write my lyrics on their binders.’ And two is that he wants to have his songs be part of a summer camp fire pit circle, like a ‘Cat’s in the Cradle,’ ‘Fire and Rain’-type song.”
After multiple songwriting sessions with Beard and APG, he wrote nearly half of his album. Soon, Beard helped bring in manager Justin Lubliner, who is best known for signing artist Billie Eilish to his Interscope imprint Darkroom Records, and together with APG and Atlantic Records, they’ve been working to break Benjamin out on the scene.
After joining Atlantic Records, Benjamin was able to release all the songs he worked on during his label hiatus within the first few months of his signing. Then, he was lucky enough to open for Camilla Cabello in the third leg of her Never Be the Same tour and made many new music videos.
Things began to reach their peak once Benjamin sold out his first headlining US tour, followed by another. Soon after releasing his first single with Atlantic Records, “Let Me Down Slowly” in late 2018, it was re-released as a remix with Alessia Cara, becoming his first Billboard Hot 100 entry, peaking at no. 79. As of April 30th, the song reached gold certification, getting very close to going platinum.
Alec Benjamin is a perfect representation of how difficult the music industry is. His music is deeply touching and beautiful, with lyrics that truly strike a chord with his audience, and it’s working. His music being heard — with over 17 million monthly listeners, with Spotify currently naming him as their 118th most-streamed artist in the world. This truly goes to show you how hard work, dedication, and a little bit of luck go a long way in reaching for your dreams.