Negotiating for the Musician

After years and perhaps even decades of perfecting your craft, dreaming up the day when you'd be handed a pen to autograph that little dotted line, do you have a plan in place for when that moment actually arrives?

Prior to the signing, hopefully you've done your research and depending on the size of the deal and the money at stake, maybe you've even lawyer-ed up. Within the realm of contracts, one must take the time to delve into the ins and outs of every letter of fine print.

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Within the music industry, you'll also need to negotiate situations such as payment for a show, both the amount and you should be paid, as well as aspects of what bands should be lineup and oh so much more.

Negotiation is truly limitless. Not only in the scenario of contracts does the ability to negotiate become important. You'll be negotiating your entire life, both inside and outside of your career as a musician. Someday you may need to negotiate the sale of your old, beat-up washer and dryer set, bedtimes for your future children or the start date of your next lease. When it comes down to it, everything in life is a negotiation, especially these days while things are much more complicated and everyone has access to a tiny computer with a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips, their cellphone.

So, what are some key tips for this? First, take a deep breath. Collect your thoughts and prepare the facts and key-points of the topic that you're looking to discuss

Next, be prepared for a defense. It may not be aggressive, but it will most likely be somewhere in the middle away from what you were envisioning. Learn to listen to what they are saying. If they offer you some element that is beneficial to you, be fair and give a little leeway on something that they are looking for. Say that you're negotiating show details, one band would like a higher percentage of the door - you could say yes to this but ask for the choice of the rest of the bands on the bill. Compromise is key.

Pay attention to your body language, speak clearly and calmly. Creating a peaceful and soothing environment for both you and the team you are negotiating with will be helpful for everyone involved and will typically make for a more amicable situation overall.

Let us not forget that the devil is in the details. Be sure to trust but verify. Many musicans have their managers or lawyers negotiate for them, which is great, but just make to try to understand in simple terms what actually is going on. You must envision every potential detour cover all the bases. This will save you in the future when the fine print may come back to bite you. Remember it's ok to take your time to think about whatever you may be agreeing or disagreeing to. Don't feel pressured to anwser right away. 

Negotiating sometimes isn't a pretty encounter, but it doesn't have to get too tense either. If you take the proper steps, it can be done in a way that is mutually beneficial for both parties. Stand your ground, but also be fair. Getting these techniques under your belt will serve you throughout your entire life and you'll be a better business person, friend, significant other and parent for it.