THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION……
What makes an artist succesfull?
Underneath you’ll find the transcription of an interview given by Bruce Allen – President of Bruce Allen Talent, an artist management firm based in Vancouver. He manages the careers of Bryan Adams, Anne Murray, Martina McBride, Michael Bublé and producer Bob Rock.
Well it depends on the artist. Some artists think they’re successful if they have commercial success. Other artists think they’re successful if they have critical success, and other artists think they’re successful if they just get their music out there. So it depends, and I think that some artists are afraid of success, big success or what I would call commercial success because with success comes responsibility and when they have responsibility that’s not what they really got into it for. They got into it to get their art out there and it became bigger than they ever thought it would and they’re not comfortable in that seat, and there are people like that.
So you’ll always see people who are just thrilled to put out their music, that’s good enough. My music gets out there, you hear artists all the time, “I don’t care if nobody buys it, I just want to get it out there. I just want to make it. I just want to get my record out there. I don’t care if nobody buys it. It’s good enough for me that it’s just out there.”
That’s a bit of a cop out. Every artist wants commercial success, they just won’t say it because they don’t want to fail and some people I think, what is success? You know, I used to say, I used to get angry about this stuff. Wait a minute my artist has sold ten million records and that artist there has sold half a million records and their critics are saying that other artist has sold half a million records is great. What do you mean they’re great? If you’re great you sell millions of records. You know that’s just the way it is. You want to make the big vote; the big vote’s the cash register. Somebody doesn’t buy it, how can it be great, you know? You artists, you critics, you’re just like eunuchs in a whore house, you’re just saying that. Okay? You’re just saying that it’s great because you want to be smarter than you want to be hip, okay? But success, I guess, is just up to the individual. If that artist thinks he’s successful selling 500,000 records, who am I to tell him he’s not? He probably is really, he thinks that’s great. I don’t, he does. So if he’s says that’s what success is, it’s up to the individual.
I can recognize talent but I don’t know what to do with it sometimes. What a wonderful guitar player. This guy can play more notes than any three guitar players I know, but what am I going to do with it? Okay? The artists that I’ve done the best with, every one has been driven to success. They might not be the best songwriters, they might not be the best players, they might not even be the best performers, but by God, they’re going to do, they’re going to work so hard that they’re going to basically force everyone around there to believe that they’re great. I believe that Bryan Adams, I said it before, if he got up in the morning when he was 17 and decided he was going to be a nuclear physicist, he’d have been the best nuclear physicist. That’s just the way he thinks, right? Now he’s taken his art, he’s moved over and he’s a photographer. This guy is a major talent. He’s been flying around the world taking shots of stuff. He decided to put his mind to it, I’m not just going to be a photographer and take pictures of plants and crap; I’m going to actually be a great photographer, I’m going to put out books. I’m going to be a great, he did it. That’s just in his mindset. He’s going to be the best he could possibly be.
Some guys just want to, you know, sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Boy, if I can play guitar, I’m going to get laid, I’m going to get drugs, and I’ll have a great time, and I’ll meet broads, it’ll be fantastic. That’s good enough for some guys, but other guys, I see a guy come in there with a passion, if he can convince me that he’s going to do it and he’s going to work hard and he’s got the talent to do it, I’ll buy in every time. I’m a promoter too, see? So I get sucked into it, I can promote me. All us guys get sucked in and then we get into the project we find, wait a minute, you want to go to home to your girlfriend? Wait a minute you want to have a family? Wait a minute all these things get in way here of being successful. You gotta be single mindedness is what makes guys successful. I don’t care whether they’re athlete, whether you’re a lawyer, whether you’re an artist. It’s the single minded and the focus. If I can be convinced that they’re going to focus then I can make it with some talent.
Talent and focus, I’ll get there!