As I settled down with my thoughts and skimming through this multiple rights contract, it occurred to me that I hadn’t even organized my bargaining chips to get all the counter offers I wanted on behalf of my client. As I began to interview my client, the first set of questions I asked were
- What do you want?
- What do you have?
- How bad do you want it?
Now these are my basic questions because often times in the sphere of negotiating for your client, we as lawyers tend to carry our egos into the gallery and come out with pictures satisfactory to us but very negative to the client. As a party entering into negotiation, you must clear cut be able to give answers to the questions above and communicate clearly to your lawyer. Now as a creative or a creative stakeholder/investor, you should take into consideration the following parameters and lawyers you should demand these to get the best out of every negotiating situation:
Do a declaration of assets and liabilities with your lawyer
Now the easiest way to determine the value you get out of any contract or relationship agreement is to do a full analysis of your investment as an individual or stakeholder. Unfortunately, because of the non-existent culture of data accountability in our country, it’s hard for many of us to come up with these numbers or data. I asked my client what do you have and he was confused but as I broke it down to him from his social media network base, his number of mixtapes, track downloads, network in university, prominent features etc my client understood he also had value. So dear artiste any time that record deal or publishing or management deal comes, no matter how small your assets are they are your tools for negotiation.
The whole truth and nothing but the truth
As a creative or creative stakeholder, it is very unwise to lie to your legal representative. A simple lie can hurt the whole negotiating process more so hurt you for life. More often than not, your lawyer makes a whole case on that lie. An example of these kinds of lie includes, having an existing contract that conflicts, claiming to have a registered company whereas just a business name.
Stop lying if you can’t just don’t lie to your lawyer.
Pre meeting preparations
Like the warm ups before the match is played, it is important both parties (ie lawyer and client) discuss possible strategies, shifting grounds, deadlocks etc that might be encountered in such negotiating field. This helps you anticipate lot mishaps during this process.
Let the lawyer speak but constantly consult
I have been to negotiations where the client decides to be the lawyer hereby undercutting the front the presence of a lawyer does at the table. I really understand when people feel like because it is basic English they can handle it themselves, well, there is a reason it takes six years to get that title “Barrister and Solicitor”. A united front always sends a strong message to the other party. You should understand that negotiation is a game and it encompasses a lot of psychological, mental, physical tactics and strategies to get desired results. If you have anything to say to your lawyer pass a note or timeout to discuss. Plus it makes the process faster.
Never be constrained into signing
The most important point to understand during negotiation is the ability to walk away from the negotiation at anytime. But to be able to achieve this, you must have adequately analyzed all the aspects of the deal and see if the value is really worth it. When the other party senses desperation, it is easy to throw in new and shady clauses that even the lawyer can miss because a time has been set. Any time I receive a contract for review and I get anything less than a 48hr review period and another 48hrs to re negotiate, I promptly instruct my client to inform the other party about the time frame must. Once your signature is appended the contract comes to life so be careful what you sign to.
Note to artistes, the bill of the lawyer to help you review and negotiate your contract especially record agreements can be couched to be paid by the label as an advance or you pay for it from your sign on fee or personal reservoir.