continued from here.
From what I understand intelligence wasn’t as important a quality back in the day as it is now.
But back in the day, artists weren’t sending out tweets and there wasn’t a camera or video camera in everyone’s back pocket, either.
Intelligence goes beyond the occasional documentation of the bong hit, forgetting to wear panties or other societal faux pas. Among other things, it’s knowing when to talk and knowing when not to talk. And knowing that if you don’t know; don’t talk.
It’s not that you need to know everything. That, of course, is impossible. However, it IS about not assuming everything you’re told is the truth and knowing where to find the answers.
Let’s take the example we mentioned earlier about the artist and the producer deciding to split what would be the publishing income from recording a public domain Christmas song. Had the artist known that artists are entitled to the full amount, it is doubtful the artist would have giving away the 50% of the money.
A simple “let me think about it” or “Let me ask my manager” would have possibly lead to a 100% increase to the artist’s billfold, and, maybe, a greater respect of the artist from the producer. Maybe not.
The more successful an artist gets, the more legal things become—with more real-life consequences. The carefree days of being a flop, quirky artist are actually over, and the sooner you start carrying yourself intelligently, the better.
A couple of quick stories:
While playing in Texas, I was surprised to see a producer I knew from Nashville backstage. I asked him what he was doing out this way thinking it was to see the artist I was playing with, but he said he was actually there to listen to the guy that was opening up for us, someone he was thinking of signing.
After the show I bumped into the producer again, which gave me the opportunity to ask what he thought of the guy’s show. He said he was good, but he wasn’t going to sign him.
Because he wasn’t smart enough.
There was a singer that I worked with back in Nashville. The guy was tall, handsome, and had a great voice. And I mean a real excellent voice. To look at him when he wasn’t performing, you would think he was a star. To hear his voice, you would think he’d be signed.
I’m pretty sure he had more than one opportunity for the big league, but he probably talked them out of it. The main problem he had was that he thought he was more intelligent than he actually was.
The reason a label finds the lack of intelligence an undesirable trait is because that kind of person can be sort of a loose cannon, and you don’t know what they are going to say when they are on the radio or talking to press. Labels invest serious cash – hundreds of thousands of dollars in some cases – in launching an artist. One small misplaced comment can bring the whole thing crashing down and all the money spent will be for naught.
Lastly, intelligence is about knowing how smart you are. If you’re not smart, either the streetwise or a student of advanced education, that’s fine: surround yourself with honest smart people and heed their advice. Oh, and don’t sleep with anyone at the label.