Handling Business 101

By Danica Mathes, Esq., August 29, 2004 “The key to this business is personal relationships.” – Dicky Fox in Jerry McGuire

– Act professionally. Be respectful of others in the industry at all times.

– Be organized. Write down questions or topics before meetings and bring relevant documents to meetings.

– Keep detailed records and receipts. Even if you throw everything in a shoebox and organize it once a month, keep everything in one place at all times.

– Be on time for meetings. To most professionals, time is money…literally. Be as respectful of their time as you want them to be of yours.

– Expand your network. Relationships are key in this business and it’s often who you know that matters. Keep in touch with (and keep track of) venue and publication contacts, and organize business cards and other contact information you acquire throughout your career.

– Educate yourself. The more you learn about the music industry, the more likely you will be to succeed in it (and not get taken).

– Make it a team effort. Keep your team members informed about what you are doing and what your other team members are doing.

– Get everything in writing.This is especially true for contracts and other agreements…but also take good notes when meeting with a professional, and/or ask for a summary of the meeting (i.e., what was discussed, what you need to do/give to the professional, what the professional needs to do/give to you) from the professional.

– Sign on the dotted line…eventually. Don’t sign anything until your lawyer has reviewed it.

– Shop around. When shopping for professionals, ask questions about experiences the professional has had that are similar to your situation, ask what kind of fees the professional charges, and ask for references. Follow up with references. Choose the professional you feel most comfortable with and have the most confidence in.

– Pay your bills. If you have questions about a bill or statement, or are not able to pay a bill in full upon receiving it or think a statement is incorrect, call the professional and discuss the matter with them. Most professionals are flexible with their billing and can work with you. Do not just ignore the bill and hope it goes away.

– Communication is key. As Dicky Fox so aptly noted, this business is about relationships. Professionals work for you, but relationships are a two-way street. If you keep your professional contacts informed of what’s going on with you and the rest of your team, they will be better able to advise you, you’ll get to know each other better and your relationship will be strengthened in the process. Don’t forget, professionals are people too. They have busy schedules and lives outside of the office. They need to be reminded sometimes and they even make a few mistakes now and then. But if you are clear about your expectations and truly develop relationships with your professionals, you’ll be able to deal with life’s obstacles, and your successes will become theirs (and vice versa).

– Cross your fingers. Luck plays an amazingly large role in entertainment industry success. I’d rather have luck than brains any day of the week (although having both is even better). Remember, luck is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. Translation: Luck is preparation meeting opportunity. Be prepared and keep your eyes open!