Director, Talent and Writer Negotiations
Stephen Key of entrepreneur.com lists 9 ways to negotiate a contract:
Take your time.
In my experience, contracts that are signed quickly tend to be lousy. Most people do not enjoy negotiating and just want to get it over with. I get that, but please, don’t rush. The final product will be much better for it.
Get professional help.
I may know what I want out of a contract business-wise, but I certainly don’t know how to write one in such a way that protects my interests. I always have my lawyer review anything I sign.
Always start with a term sheet.
Term sheets address big picture items. I think of this initial stage of the negotiation process like dating. At this point, everyone should be happy! Make sure to stick to just the broad strokes at this stage. If you can’t agree to a term sheet, why bother trying to sign a contract? It will never work out. Don’t waste your time.
Think of negotiating a contract like eating an elephant.
You’ve got to do it a step at a time. I recommend you start by tackling some of the easier aspects first. Focus on gaining some momentum. Remember, the attitude with which you approach the process is crucial. If you get some things out of the way early on, you’ll both be pleased. Then, later on, you should bring up the difficult issues.
Do the math.
How much do you stand to gain? You should have a concrete idea.
Don’t hesitate to pick up the phone.
We’ve all received emails that have come across terribly and left us wondering about the sender’s true intentions. If your communication seems to be faltering, call the person! Don’t wait for a full-blown misunderstanding to brew. You’ll get a much better read on the situation, including when to back off and when to accelerate.
Understand that the first contract you receive is just that — the first.
The contract you end up with will be very different. Don’t flip out. It’s needless and unproductive, because it’s just a starting point. Shake it off. Everything is negotiable. That’s the point.
Consider finding someone to play “bad cop.”
Some people are uncomfortable asserting what does and doesn’t work for them point-blank. It can be helpful to have a partner.
I mean it. To be reasonable, you need to know what is actually reasonable — so do your research. Talk to some industry experts. What can you expect? Actually listen to what they say.
Never forget to think about your end game. What are you really after? How much do you want to make this partnership work? What are you willing to give up in return? If someone tries to rush you, that’s a big red flag. These are important considerations — considerations that may evolve over time. Plot your moves carefully.
Why You Need a Lawyer
“Entertainment law is not all about seeking redress for infringements. Experts in this aspect of the law can help clients negotiate new contracts, enforce existing contracts or get out of an inconvenient contract. A smart entertainment lawyer is vital for people in this industry. Get a competent and experienced attorney and you will have peace of mind,” explains socialprotectionfloor-gateway.org.
Such lawyers exist at Broussard Dove Law. Contact them to handle your industry contract needs.