Case Study: The Music Business – part 2

In a nutshell this is the advice I gave my client in response to yesterday’s post.

Start by examining what you know about the circumstance.

First, this should be a Win Win type of negotiation given the nature of the relationship between the parties involved.  However, both parties have acted as if they were haggling over a car, rather than trying to identify each other’s priorities.  It is a classic mistake to rush in with an offer before you’ve discussed all of the terms with the other party face to face.  Right out of the gate this deal has spun back around The Wheel of Negotiation taking on the characteristics of a Hard Bargaining situation, which is obviously not conducive to getting this project off the ground.

Second, let’s examine the managers response.  It’s almost laughable, yet so typical of the type of response bandied about in the entertainment world.  His response should contain a footnote referencing the “Manager’s 101 Guide to Deal Making” .  C’mon stop it already, you’ve seen too many movies dramatizing how deal’s get done.  He wouldn’t take his time to justify his rejection and categorize his offense if he wasn’t interested in the first place.  If they were truly offended there wouldn’t have been a response at all or worse yet the response would have been F@$% You!  (which is also another typical response in this world).

Where do you go from here?

They have 2 paths they can take.  They can simply bargain over the advance as this deal deteriorates into a pissing match and everybody loses as both sides settle for the least objectionable offer followed by a lackluster release (with very little support from the band).  Or they can start over and discard the initial exchange.

Taking the high road isn’t always easy on the ego as our competitive juices start to trigger an emotional response.

1.  Introduce a new person from your side who will be handling this project going forward.  Sometimes the best way to start over is to change the egos in the room.

2.  Send a response that contains 3 elements, an introduction of the new person, a meeting request, and proper positioning.  so here’s an example of the type of positioning required.

Thanks for your response.  We are interested in understanding the band’s priorities, so we can create an appropriate proposal.  We have come up with a number of marketing ideas that could have an impact on the performance of the album.  To realize the potential of this project we will need to understand the band’s commitment and involvement.  When are you available to discuss these items in greater detail?

3.  Identify their own priorities and work out the value and/or cost of each item.

4.  Send over an agenda that outlines ALL of the terms that need to be discussed and ask the managers to include any additional items they want to discuss.  Jointly agreed agenda’s are the easiest way to create the appropriate climate, to explore priorities for each party, and to maintain focus throughout the meeting.  Agendas also allow you to table any new items during the meeting and respond at a later date once you’ve had time to consider your response.

5.  Create a questioning strategy that follows the agreed agenda.  The questions are aimed at identifying the other parties priorities and unlocking any mitigating circumstance.  You’ll need to make sure you also clearly communicate your priorities to the other party.  Don’t mislead them.  You want them to respond with proposals that generate value for you and they can’t do that unless they know what’s important.

6.  Hold an information gathering meeting face to face with all involved parties.  The information meeting is NOT a negotiation, instead this meeting is used to exchange information in order to understand where movement will come from as differing priorities will dictate the proposal process.  You don’t need to disclose commercially sensitive information, you need to discuss relative importance.  (i.e This is important, we have a degree of flexibility here, that is going to cost a lot, that is relatively easy to pull off, etc.)

7.  After the information meeting create ALL of your proposals and moves before the negotiation.  I cannot stress this point enough, you do not want to wing it.  Your proposals act as a map, you may not use them all, but you will have them in case you run into any roadblocks.

8.  Hold a face to face negotiation with the decision makers present.  Reconvene  and  repeat as necessary.  Agree what has been agreed with a concise summary before you leave the table.  I see too many negotiations ultimately unravel, when the deal memo is sent, in a flurry of he said she said.  Just because the parties can’t wait stand up and leave the room.

What proposals would you recommend to maintain the appropriate climate and move the discussion forward?

Can you guess which band is involved in this project?


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