As musicians and artists, networking goes hand in hand. You will meet people who may want to work with you on a project and because the energy and sound feels right, we sometimes neglect the duty of establishing the proper terms of the working relationship between us and the people we work with. Although making music is fun, exciting and rewarding, it can also be pretty scary especially when money gets involved.
I can tell you from direct personal experience that I have both gained and lost many friends throughout my 25+ year tenure as a music producer and audio engineer. Music is art and art is a very sensitive and subjective topic by nature because for the most part, it’s a personal form of expression that is inspired by one’s own life experiences manifested into a sound recording put out for the purposes of entertaining or educating people.
There is a gray area that exist when business and music are forced to deal with each other because the two concepts are opposing. On one hand, business is about financial gain, usually by any means necessary regardless of musical or personal integrity. On the other hand, music is about art, intimate personal expression and integrity.
Working with artists and musicians is very much like a romantic relationship in that a certain chemistry must exist amongst the people working on the project. There will be times of joy and times of conflict as different people may have different ideas on how to convey certain aspects of the composition. Long hours are spent together between you and your clients and as the synergy grows stronger, the lines of the business relationship and personal relationship sometimes get blurred. It becomes very easy to feel complacent and comfortable with the artists and musicians that you are working with and you may feel that the personal relation is so strong that there is no need to put emphasis on the business part of the music that you are creating. I’m here to tell you, that no matter how cool and comfortable you may be with the people you work with, never forget to establish a thorough understanding of the terms of your working relationship because once money gets involved, people change.
As a professional, you must place value behind what you do so that people will see the value in “WHAT YOU DO”. If you provide services, make it known upfront what the prices and terms associated with those services are. Doing so will help you and your clients avoid any business-related mishaps and confusion that may arise after the release of a said project. I know that many of us do music as a means of financial gain and during times when business is slow it becomes tempting to accept less than what we originally valued our services at but, just remember that consistency is what will get people to take you seriously. Your price is your price and you should stand by that even if it means losing out on potential business. In the long run, you will be respected for standing confidently behind your product and you will attract more quality clients by doing so.
Lastly, I highly advise you to “KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GETTING YOURSELF INTO” when working with certain clients. If you are at the level in your music career to where you are working with high level clients or record labels who are financially backed and have legal representation, it is imperative that you are 100% aware of the terms of those types of relationships. You must protect the interest or your music and personal assets at all costs. If contracts are presented, hire an attorney to read them over for you so that your stake in that said arrangement is accounted for and protected. Contracts can be laced with loop holes that favor the other party and may limit what you can and cannot do with the product that you provided. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, so if you are unclear about something in that contract, do not sign it no matter how enticing the offer may seem to be on the surface.
Stick to your guns, learn how to discern between truly serious, talented clients and those that are just in this for non-serious, self-serving purposes. In either case, make sure that the business is addressed first before performing the requested service.
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