Signing a record deal is no longer the only way to succeed in the music industry. A quick reality check reveals an increase in the number of successful unsigned artists, thanks to effective music marketing strategies such as social media platforms and music blogs.

Alongside the benefits of increased agency that independent musicians enjoy, there are also the pressures. With that in mind, it’s essential for budding musicians to master negotiation skills to steer clear of unfavorable deals. Here are the three best negotiation skills for music industry success.

Gig Payout vs. Exposure

Interestingly, celebrated musicians such as JLO, Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, and Justin Timberlake have performed for free at the Super Bowl. Notably, these artists have been reported as enjoying increased music sales soon after their Super Bowl shows.

For example, Maroon 5 recorded a 488% increase in record sales after their 2019 performance. No wonder facilitators at negotiation skills training events caution against prioritizing monetary gain in showbiz.

The advantages of compromising gig payouts for exposure often outweigh the benefits of a one-time compensation. Therefore, it’s wise to be on the lookout for profile-boosting opportunities. However, measuring the overall benefit of the exposure is also essential. Remember, you still have bills to pay.

You also don’t want promoters to undermine your price or assume that you’re available for free performances. Keep your quest for success at the forefront and consider the following when negotiating for a performance that pays in exposure:

  • The actual exposure you will receive.
  • The type of exposure involved – is it interviews, live shows, or digital?
  • The availability of additional benefits apart from exposure and networking.
  • Duration of the exposure – the longer, the better.
  • Type of audience – will they buy your music or come to your concerts?

Active Listening Skills

Active listening skills help you absorb what is said at the negotiation table to avoid missing critical details. This lifelong skill calls for some training to learn how to carefully observe non-verbal cues. The goal here is to pick out the hidden meanings beyond the words of the other side. Knowing how the other side really feels makes it easier to strike a deal that favors all the negotiators.

It pays to blend skillful questioning as part of listening actively. Asking questions means you appear interested and trustworthy, which increases the chances of sealing the deal and obtaining more gigs through referrals. However, it’s vital to stick to questions that are well chosen and carefully crafted. Many people find random questions unsettling, which can be a hindrance to obtaining information from the other negotiators.

Outlining Your Goals

Outlining your goals means getting clear on what you intend to achieve during negotiations. It’s common for artists to fall for a raw deal when they don’t train themselves to adequately prepare for a negotiation.

To get clear on your goals, here are questions to ask yourself:

1.What is your least acceptable offer? If you are planning to light up your performance, additional expenses are inevitable. Knowing what you’ll accept in advance helps you to remain within a desirable range during discussions. You also avoid digging into your pockets to support the gig. It’s advisable to calculate the overall expenses before setting your bottom line.

2. Do you have a plan B? Skilled negotiators call it the BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement). Having a plan B gives you the confidence to say a firm “no” or to place on hold any unfavorable deals.

3. What else should you know? Ensure you have all the details locked in to avoid surprises; don’t leave anything to chance. Also, ask the other team if there is anything else they’d like you to know. This can reveal other points not yet discussed, which could mean revisiting previous arrangements and adjusting accordingly.

Final Words

Although excellent negotiation skills can help you succeed in the music industry, knowing your worth is another vital consideration. Train yourself to evaluate your value before signing the record deal or the performance contract. This enables you to:

  • Command reasonable gig payouts.
  • Attend value-adding performances.
  • Connect with the right network.
  • Become the next big name in showbiz.