Though an accomplished veteran on both sides of the microphone, with years of experience on and off stage, and a history of writing music for television advertisement, Ben understands the value of a strong network and good mentors. “No one is where they need to be,” he admits.

He compares ATL Collective to having a favorite high school teacher who brings together all walks of students from all sorts of cliques. “You take a group of people that wouldn’t necessarily, naturally socialize” and artists from completely different walks of life to enrich and learn from each other.

Ben recognizes that networking often has a negative connotation, but he appreciates how ATL Collective has humanized it. He sees Hump Day Hang as a perfect example of the kind of unique networking opportunities ATL Collective facilitates. Unlike most high pressure, one- shot networking opportunities, “what ATL Collective offers is the consistency that, hey look, if you don’t really connect in the 10 minutes after the event, come next month and there’s a good chance they’re going to be there.” The Collective creates the opportunity to develop an on-going relationship that’s relaxed, comfortable, sincere, meaningful, and local.

On the music front, ATL Collective’s spirit helped Ben remember “why I love music and where it came from.” Playing “Friend of the Devil with Anita Aysola at the city Winery was “a full circle musical experience” for Ben. He has missed live performance during the Covid shutdown, but he has been drawn to play more despite the absence of live gigs. “I can love something that felt like failure for a long time.”

The thought of playing a small shows (because the return of large concerts may be a long time coming) has given Ben the creative freedom to play what he wants, how he wants. He’s not comparing himself to big artists that sell out stadiums, because everyone is now on the same level.

One byproduct of the pandemic is that musicians have become human again. But pandemic or no pandemic, humanizing music, both onstage and off is one of the greatest parts of what ATL Collective contributes to the city and its artists.