A major part of the music industry is negotiations. Be it record deals, endorsements, contracts or royalties, the art of negotiation is intertwined into every aspect of the business. As a manager of artists, it is important to be well skilled in the art of negotiation. The importance of this skill cannot be stressed enough. It can make the difference between building lasting relationships that are mutually beneficial versus always struggling to get what you want out of your career.
Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William Ury is an outstanding book that outlines meaningful principles and tactics for effective negotiating. One of the first concepts introduced in this book stresses the need to separate the people from the problem. Essentially, we have to eliminate emotions (although it is okay to be passionate about your cause) and not form biases or verbal exchanges that are based on or that attacks the other party, but rather, that addresses the issue at hand. In a speech about the walk from “no” to “yes” by Ury, he explains, “When angry, you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” This highlights the importance of not getting caught up in emotions, but rather be focused on the matter at hand. Also noteworthy, is to realize that the “other side” is made up of actual people. Even though we may not agree on the issue, we can work together as people to negotiate a mutual agreement.
Joel Peterson gave a lecture to a Stanford Business class where he also outlines the merits of successful negotiations. One of the main points he elaborates on is also expressed in Getting to Yes, which is realizing the other party’s underlying interests. These interests may not be explicitly revealed but they need to be understood in order to have the best outcome. For instance, an artist who is looking to sign a record deal may request an advance or signing bonus. In realizing the artist’s underlying interest, the label understands that the artist is not just being greedy, but wants to be financially compensated or rewarded for entering into an agreement. The artist may have pending financial obligations that the upfront money could assist with.
Ronald M. Shapiro was a guest lecturer at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law. He gave an interactive lecture on how to negotiate so everyone involved wins. One of his key points is also highlighted in Getting to Yes, which states that the “haggling” method of negotiation is the least effective. I found this concept to be most interesting because stereotypically negotiating is thought to be similar to the process of purchasing a car. The car dealer, of course, starts out high while the buyer starts low and you go back and forth in hopes of meeting somewhere in the middle. The truth, however, is that this process is the least effective. Instead, objective criteria (which are fair standards and procedures) should be used as supporting factors in the negotiation process.
Of course, this is merely an overview of a topic that requires greater detail and attention in order to outline all concepts. However, this is a great starting point in beginning to be a more effective negotiator. So, what do you think? How do you believe these tactics will help you negotiate the terms you desire in your career?
Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William Ury 2011

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