Let’s face it! We need money to invest in our career. I certainly don’t want to a ‘struggling musician’ for the rest of my life. And for as long as I’m an independent artist, the issue of money; how much you want/should get paid for a job, how much equipment costs towards your career etc will all come to our table… and we have to deal with it.
I hate having the money conversation. It sucks out all the fun! So the less awkward the better.
Here are a few things that have worked for me over the years.
1). What’s Your Ideal Figure?
Look, what’s that dream figure that you wish every client would agree to pay you? Write it down. Ask for it. It saves you having to beat about the bush and prolong the conversation unnecessarily. What’s your bottom line? Block your mind from what other people are getting and just ask. Your ideal figure is exactly that – ‘ideal’, so even thought you must be wiling to negotiate, at least it’s a figure you have in mind to start the conversation off.
2). What’s your ‘CCF’ (Cover-Costs Figure)?
If you know what your bottom line is then the likelihood of you feeling a little weirded out about talking about money is reduced. You know what you can afford and you know what you can compromise on. As long as you’re not going below what it costs to do a show without making a profit, then you are in the green. Knowing this figure makes you firm in your communication, and the client will respect that. They might be a little bitchy about it but they’ll respect it.
3). Remove Emotions
Remember that everybody is going through hard times and for as long as time, music/entertainment/show business is one industry that people have never liked to fork out millions for. It’s hard to explain ‘value’ to the average person when you’re talking about creativity and art. That’s just how it is. With that said, take your emotions out of it and realize that it’s not about you. Negotiate as far as you can and then bail if it’s not going to work for you. Not every opportunity has to be a ‘yes’.
4). Hire A Middle Man
If you can’t do it – get somebody else to. Make sure they know you’re figures, your bottom line etc. so that you’re consistent from client to client. It goes without saying that you should get someone you trust to do the deed.
5). Do It Over The Phone
If you feel awkward to do it in person, there’s really no harm in having the conversation over the phone. The downside is that a lot of benefits to human connection are lost. Meeting a client in person and turning on the charm can make a huge difference to their understanding of what you want and why you want what you want. Do what works best for the situation.
6). Write Details Down
There’s nothing worse than getting off the phone and realizing that you sold yourself short because you felt awkward. It pays to write down what you want to get paid and most importantly why. Write down your ideal figure write down your CCF, write a detailed list of your costs etc.
7). Sooner Rather Than Later
Trust me! It’s less awkward if you have it sooner. You don’t want to go through all the details of the gig or the opportunity and both you and the client get so excited, things start to get too familiar. Discuss the money matters as soon as you feel you want the opportunity. They are calling for your services, you should be able to tell them immediately how much those services will cost. It’s business!
8). Put The Business Hat On For ALL Clients
The client becomes the client the minute they request your services. Friends, Family, Enemies – all of them should see, understand and respect why you have to switch to business mode. There’s nothing wrong with it. It makes things less awkward if you are more about the business and less about ‘doing someone a favor’. If they can’t stand the heat (i.e. the conversation), they should get out of the kitchen. It’s usually as simple as that.
How do you get over the awkward money conversation?