Game Music Jobs: The Art of Negotiating
Hi, welcome to Game Music Jobs.
Today’s Tenet of Occupational Professionalism is negotiations. Negotiation is a part of everyday life. Some of us had to negotiate ourselves into our pants this morning after ample holiday eating, but I digress—I don’t want to put myself into a tight situation.
There is a popular quote that cannot be attributed to any one person, but I have found to be true:
“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”
My teenage self said, “Sign me up!”
There are many books on negotiations, but the one I enjoy the most is Roger Dawson’s The Secrets of Power Negotiating. This book is used by lawyers turned professors to teach laypeople how to negotiate offensively and defensively. I will not go into exhaustive detail because I do not want to end up in court with Mr. Dawson, negotiating what percentage I may owe him.
I am not advocating negotiating all contracts by yourself, but it helps to understand the language spoken from both sides of the table. You must watch both sides to at least understand when you are being insulted.
Negotiation is not a universal language; its forms vary with culture. However, the goal is always the same—to get as much as possible for as little as possible.
Below, I have listed five tips that may come in handy when negotiating terms for a project. But before I start, I must cover my posterior. Information provided by Game Music Jobs is not meant to replace the advice of a legal professional. Now that the burden has been sufficiently shifted, let’s begin!
ALWAYS ASK FOR MORE THAN WHAT YOU WANT
Why settle for an arm or a leg—just take all four limbs. That’s where the best “green meat” is. In archery as in life, you must aim high to hit the center. For example, if you want $5,000 for a project, ask for $7,000 instead, because you might get $6,000. Look at that—you just made an extra $1,000 in ten minutes. Lawyers don’t even make that much!
NEVER SELL YOURSELF SHORT
Nothing is more insulting than someone undervaluing your work. Well, there is one thing a bit more demeaning than that: you undervaluing your work. Do not be afraid to say no to the first offer. “No” is one of the most powerful words in your arsenal, and it’s easier to say than the four-letter kind, too. Sometimes people will make you a ridiculous offer just to watch your reaction. If the quote is below what you can afford to accept, it may be time to walk away. Or you could nibble to see if you can push the money cart a bit further. Dawson mentions these ideas in his book, too. If you balk at a bad proposal, it will make the other person flinch and give you a negotiable advantage.
DO NOT MAKE THE FIRST OFFER
Get the other party to make the first offer, and you may have a strategic advantage. You can bracket where the monetary tolerance is and adjust your quote accordingly. Haggling and hunting are as old as civilization itself. In both the ancient and modern days of hunting, a tactic to gain your prey is to flush it from its hiding spot. When it moves, it reveals its position to the hunter’s advantage. Making the first offer works exactly the same way.
SILENCE IS LOUDER
Hey, Verbo! Many people have unknowingly talked their way out of advantages. You would not believe how effective silence is. A man’s talent may bring him before kings, but his lips will determine how long he stays there. This tactic goes with the point above. In silence, you can hear the shuffling of prey and learn its location. The same goes for negotiating. Silence tends to make people nervous, and they will try to fill the space with sounds, often trifling sounds. Use this to your advantage, and wait to respond. The other party may negotiate a better deal for you.
DO THE DANCE
Negotiations are as much a delicate dance as a knockdown, punch hardy brawl. He who throws the first punch may get parried and hit, but the one who punches slowest may end up waking up from a coma to deliver his witty retort for a fight long lost. What you are ultimately looking for is a win-win situation. No one wants to feel like they have been finessed, and feelings often matter more than reality. Just as a relationship can mean more than one deal, use discretion when using this advice, and remember you cannot blame Munch man if things do not work out for you. I’m just saying!
You may say, “Munch, this advice assumes the worst in people.” Let me ask you a question. When was the last time you wanted to just give your money away? Exactly. Did you not hear the quote from earlier? I will say it again and add to it:
“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side for those who will not pay heed to instruction.”
First, I would like to thank Maury for his support.
Game Music Jobs is here to help you. If there are any questions you have for us, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Don’t be a fool, keep learning, and always B#. I am Munch man with Game Music Jobs.