Being easy to work with and negotiation tips

November 9, 2007

Date: November 9, 2007 11:24:34 PM EST
To: <Undisclosed-Recipient:;>
Subject: Being easy to work with and negotiation tips

Recently I had to talk with 2 different artists about licensing their songs.

One manager I talked to was incredibly professional.  She used to work for a major label so she clearly knew the state of the business and knew that fees aren’t what they used to be.

She asked if we could do just a 75/25 split so the artist could keep their publishing on this track.  Because it was a regular placement and not a huge TV commercial or opening title song, I agreed 1) because those were the terms we originally agreed to and 2) because she was so easy to work with.  She came into the negotiation in a very pleasant and friendly manner.

The other artist referred me to their attorney.  I spoke with her and from the get go she was confrontational.  Which is fine, that’s what lawyers do.  But the problem is that I have several songs up for consideration for this project. And the attorney was trying to renegotiate the terms.  Right off the bat, she was confrontational and argumentative.  I am going to pull that song because this artist (or in this case – their attorney) is simply too difficult to deal with.

It’s so important in this business not just to be professional, but also to be easy to work with.

I can’t tell you how many people have said I’m someone they like and enjoy doing business with.  I get repeat business because of this.

Now, being “easy to deal with” doesn’t mean being a pushover.  When I feel a music supervisor is ripping me off, i.e. not wanting to pay anything for music… or only paying $200 a track, I simply don’t help them with that project.  But I’m never rude.  I never yell at them or give them a hard time. I simply say “Oh, ok, that’s all the money you have for this project?  I don’t know if I’ll be able to find anything at that price” and leave it at that.

Recently, I was meeting with the head of music at a major TV network.  He told me XYZ band (multi-platinum selling, currently HUGE, charting, mega superstar artist/band) had come into his office and wanted him to consider using their songs for TV shows.  So when he went to call the band’s manager a few weeks later, it took the manager 2 weeks to get back to him about licensing the song. Two weeks!  Songs many times need to be cleared THAT DAY, or in a VERY short time frame so taking 2 weeks to get an answer?  Despite this superstar artist/band’s being, well, huge, this executive told me he is NEVER GOING TO LICENSE THEIR SONGS AGAIN BECAUSE THEY TOOK 2 WEEKS TO GET BACK TO HIM AND WERE DIFFICULT TO DEAL WITH!

So, it amazes me that artists who haven’t licensed one song (or maybe have licensed a handful of songs) think they can get away with this same behavior.

Go ahead, be demanding, rude, difficult and impossible to deal with.  Or refer me to your manager or lawyer who will do the same.

I guarantee that not only will I never work with you again, but you will most likely get very little work from anyone else in this business.

Remember those two artists I told you about at the beginning of this story?

Well, the one that was easy to work with – I bet their song is going to go through.

And the other one? Well, what do you think?


“Motivation and determination are 1000 times more potent than talent alone”
-Some guy online
“Be nice to everyone.  You never know if the intern will be the next president of your record company.”
-Michael Buble
“People have to learn they have to juggle everything until they get lucky. They need to work a steady job, make a living and make time for the band. They need to take all the money they make from the band and throw it back into the band”
–David Draiman, Vocalist for Disturbed, interviewed in Music Connection


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