Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone editors or publishers.
I start this article with a warning: This is a sensitive subject for many in the entertainment sector. You may be reminded of aspects of yourself that you do not like. Or, you will learn why finding your fit is important in this industry.
Let me start with an example. My organization offered a client the very same deal that previous Oscar winners, Hall of Famers, Emmy winners have received. We offered to monetize their content (non-exclusive, no fees) and explained the streamlined process. Yet for some reason, this client would email me and three other people saying how important they were and that we should offer a better deal than they were being given. To put this in perspective, this all transpired after the initial intake process had occurred.
Ask yourself, does this sound like a win-win person? Does this sound like someone who has enough business acumen to realize what is honored by both parties once an agreement has been signed? Would you want to play in a sandbox with this person, or do you think you might get hit with that plastic shovel if they don’t get their way?
This former client, after signing the agreement, emailed me every day for at least a month, asking the same question over and over. They were demanding something we never offered, never agreed to. But in their mind, they had expectations of how our business was going to operate for them even though they got the same deal everyone else did.
Our mandate is to be fair to all creators. There are those who understand that and appreciate it and those who don’t and get angry instead. From my perspective, not many people will work with someone like that, let alone spend the next five years championing their content at no cost until the title makes money.
At one point in my life, I realized that when someone finally validated me — and I hate to admit this — I would make demands that in essence were making up for all the other people who did not validate me. How do you think that worked out? It didn’t. I did not get that gig in Canada on an up-and-coming hit show and, yes, I was dumbfounded.
That was until I took the time to ask what could I have done differently. The simplest answer I can give you now is that I should have appreciated that they called me, offered me what they could, were clear in what their needs were, then give it some real thought. I should’ve assessed whether it was something I could do in their timeline and within their parameters.
The lesson I’m trying to convey is that it’s essential you find your fit in the industry. Collaborative working relationships are necessary in this business. You have every right to negotiate a deal, do your own research, say no and collaborate with the people with whom you want to collaborate. How you go about this process is what may be keeping you from moving forward. It all comes back to finding your fit. Find the people who work in the manner you want to work.
My advice here is to trust your instincts, communicate clearly, honor your word and hold up your end of the agreement. An agreement or contract exists so both parties remember after time has passed what is being asked of everyone involved. Give someone an opportunity to understand that being a “bull in a glass shop” may feel good — empowering even — but after all is not an effective way to make it in this business. Do you know anyone who wants to be run into by a bull? I don’t.
So I ask you: What is fair for both parties? Fairness is important. Relationships in this industry are unique: You embark on a journey together and if all goes well, you build amazing lifelong partnerships that are worth more than that quick ego fix, that power, that fast money.