Brett Young spent the better half of 2018 opening shows for Thomas Rhett, learning lessons on the road as they traveled the country on Rhett's Life Changes Tour. During this time, Young began to come into his own as a performer, using Rhett as a role model.

"I 100 percent am studying him onstage. Thomas' trajectory has been incredible, and if I wasn't out there evaluating and studying what it is that he does to get there, then I'd be wasting time," Young tells Taste of Country and other media. "I think it takes a long time to know exactly who you are as a performer. You know what your comfort zone is, but who you are as a performer is a different thing."

One quality in particular Young admires in Rhett is how he presents himself as a leader, projecting his humble candor onto those around him. The "In Case You Didn't Know" singer took note of how Rhett's respectful nature is reflected in his staff members — he says how the headlining act carries themselves is crucial to the tour's structure. He saw similar things when opening for Lady Antebellum in 2017.

"Thomas is a sweetheart. His family is incredible and everybody that works with him and for him, they mirror that, and it makes my life as an opener that much better knowing what to expect," Young says. "The thing that you notice when the headliner's a really good person or good people, is how that trickles down — how important that is for the whole camp and for the whole tour to run smoothly."

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Young will apply these valuable lessons when he becomes a headliner during the 2018 CMT on Tour: Here Tonight run. Knowing the impact that a positive work atmosphere has on an artist, he plans to take what he's learned from Rhett and Lady A and pay it forward to his opening acts, Rachel Wammack and Tyler Rich.

"If you know Thomas and who he is and what he stands for, you know you can expect that from everybody else. I think going into this tour at the end of the year and being the headliner, I'm aware now of that responsibility," Young says.

That responsibility is something Young has kept at the forefront of his mind since the launch of his career. As he approaches the release of his sophomore album, Ticket to L.A., on Dec. 7, Young knows that in addition to his talent, timing and opportunity played an important role in his rise to success.

"I feel a lot of pressure, but I like that. I've learned that with every little success or big success, every little bit of growth, I feel the responsibility to grow more or to take the next step," he explains. "I lived in L.A. for 10 years and I never really understood people being full of themselves, because they've been given an incredible opportunity. It's not lost on me that you walk up and down Broadway and there are people that are more talented than me that haven't been given a shot yet."

This pressure is what keeps him constantly reaching higher. While people are often intimidated by the idea of paying their dues, Young thrives on it — hard work and determination are how he evolves.

"There's always something else, something more, something different you could be doing. There's always something that you're doing that somebody's doing better and I think for me, I'm always trying to identify those things," he says, reflecting on his career. "This isn't anything other than something that I'm grateful for."

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