A lot of things have changed in the career of Justin Moore since releasing his first single, "Back That Thing Up," some seven years ago. The singer shared with Billboard something that happened to him recently at a show that proved he's not a newcomer anymore.
"We had a couple of young guys out on the road with us, and it was kind of funny to see these young guys putting out their first single or album. I asked my wife, 'When did I get to be the old guy?"
At age 31, Moore is far from ancient. However, the Valory Music Group artist has built up a successful enough catalog over the years that many of his opening acts and fans can share stories about how his brand of country has influenced them. It's something he's not used to hearing, but he does appreciate it. "I don't think that any of us start out to be that. We still think of ourselves as looking up to whoever we did. But it definitely makes you feel good and is humbling to hear that kind of stuff. There's a lot of rewarding things about getting to do this for a living, but nothing is more rewarding than knowing that your music has touched somebody in a way that inspires them. So, that's really cool to hear."
Moore says he can't take all the credit for his success. He's got a great label in Valory, a devoted fan base and an astute song critic in his wife Kate, who he admits lobbied hard for him to record "If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away" and "Till My Last Day," both of which topped the Billboard country charts. He says he appreciates her ear, which he admits works differently from his. "She deserves even more credit than what I've given her, to be honest with you. She listens to music with an unbiased perspective. I think a lot of times when you're in the industry, and you do it for a living, you listen for three minutes, and think 'Is it too long….too short…does it get to the hook quick enough?' She listens and says 'I love that song or I don't love that song.' I think it's a viable tool for us as artists to use our wives and family members to help us pick out songs."
So now that Moore is working on album number four, has Kate offered any input? "I have listened to a few songs, and I do have some favorites," she said at last month's ACM Awards. "There are some I don't like. We'll see if he listens," she said with a laugh.
The singer is also participating in an exclusive promotion with Cabela's. Fans who take a pledge to get outdoors sans technology on MyDisconnectDay.com will receive a free digital download of country-music star Justin Moore's cover of "What a Wonderful World." Moore's version of the classic song was created for Cabela's and is featured in a video portraying beautiful North American scenery and families fishing and camping, ending with a child watching it all – on a tablet. That video can be viewed on YouTube. He says he's glad to support the cause. "As a husband and dad of three daughters, I know how challenging it can be to find time with a crazy schedule to get away from the noise and spend time together. For my Disconnect Day, I'm grabbing my Cabela's camping gear and taking my family to our favorite spot with no phones allowed—except for taking pictures!"
Moore is hoping that Off The Beaten Path, his latest album, follows his first two discs to Gold-selling status. He's putting some fan incentives in play to try to speed the process along. "This one is really close, which in this day and time is hard to make happen. With social media and the way record sales have gone, it's just tough. We decided to go do something fun for the fans. We're going to pick a fan and go play in their backyard if we achieve our goal of selling 100,000 albums. It will be fun. We're going to throw a party in someone's backyard, so go buy an album. You just might win it," he says. For more information on the contest, visit GoldRecordChallenge.net
He says the challenge is open to fans in all fifty states, though he joked "I might pick Hawaii on purpose. Maybe we can sell 60,000 there. That would give them a great shot of winning this thing. That wouldn't be bad. Arkansas would work, too. That way I could sleep in my own bed after playing the show. That would be great."