Tyler Rich has friends in high places. The singer, who is currently working on his freshman project, has already hit the road with Dustin Lynch (on his Hell of a Night Tour), where he learned plenty by watching the headliner on- and offstage.

"Dustin’s one of the most genuine, real people I’ve met in town," Rich tells The Boot. "He’s taught me the work never stops ... He’s taught me the song means everything, which is very important ... [He's] pounded into my brain: It’s all about the music; it’s all about the song.

"You can get up there and have the most amazing performance you’ve ever had, but if the crowd doesn’t love the song, it’s not going to work," Rich continues. "He also told me that being a songwriter -- it’s hard to stomach sometimes -- he said, ‘Always sing the best song. Put the best song on your record. It doesn’t mean you wrote it.’ He heard that from Garth Brooks."

That last piece of advice was one that Rich was already familiar with, thanks to a chance encounter with the country music legend.

"Garth’s one of the first people I ever met in town, and Garth told me the exact same thing," says Rich. "And it’s true. Garth told me, ‘If I would have sat there when I first moved to town and wanted to have my first album be all Garth Brooks-written songs, I wouldn’t be Garth Brooks; I wouldn’t have had "The Dance" and all those other songs.’

"That’s probably the best advice I’ve gotten," Rich adds, "which is the hardest to stomach, is that other people’s songs are better for you to sing."

Rich hopes to have his debut disc in fans' hands later this year; he's looking to release his first single to radio this spring.

"Right now, we are working on everything music -- hopefully everything that is going to put me on the map in the most effective way possible," Rich says. "I’ve been in Nashville about a year and a half, from California, and just been writing nonstop since I’ve been here. Touring with Dustin the last year … I’m very blessed and very excited for the team I get to be with."

Rich's independently released 2015 EP Valerie is available on iTunes.

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