Saying No

Dave Business, Cracked Up (Blog), Creating, Music/Audio, Opinions, Personal Leave a Comment

I live by the age-old mantra:

but, there’s also a caveat of “reasonableness” to that for me.

I came to this “business” via a full-circle scenic route where I actually had the luxury of learning and experiencing the fine art of project management and, most importantly, cover-your-ass contract management.

My client-from-hell story happened to me early on in my (relatively) recent music career. I hooked up with an “up and coming” director in Seattle who needed a score for her short film. She had some up-front financing and a decent enough budget as a result. We got all the “I’s” dotted and “T’s” crossed in terms of time, money and amount of music but the fun all started when we sat down to spot the film.

She couldn’t articulate what she wanted for music – style, instrumentation, speed, dynamics … nothing. I eventually got around to walking her through some CD’s for ideas and she picked a couple that perked her interest.

So, I started on a couple of choice cues and sent drafts to her … nope, didn’t like it. Couldn’t tell me, for the life of her, what she didn’t like, except for throwing out words like “needs more wow!… I’m looking for more angst … missing some ugh!”

The second drafts (radical change) was rejected with a “it’s definitely closer, but…”. By this time, I’m usually either finished or about to finish circling the drain on a cue – we still hadn’t made a splash.

In my boiler-plate contract, I stipulate that my work includes a maximum of two revisions to a cue, but I gave her a bit of lee-way and did two more revisions with SOME better results before I had to play the contract card. This business is all about relationships, but there’s also the “business” side that needs to be taken care of. There’s a point where being “nice” and saying “yes” all the time won’t get you anywhere or make you money – you need to draw the line and know when to cut the client off before you’re working for a loss.

Things went a bit more smoothly from then on – although the feedback didn’t improve. It didn’t seem to negatively impact the relationship, as she actually asked me score a couple more of her films (I politely declined).

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