Clucking loudly while negotiating

Posted by in media

I suspect there is a playbook that media industry types collectively use when negotiating deals with technology/web startups. The latest situation involving YouTube and Universal Music comes right out of this playbook. The entire play goes something like this.

(1) At first, say “No” to any negotiation, but suggest that the startup pay your firm, or its representative, for some consideration. Examples include: gadget gifts, tickets, stock and cash. Provide an example by offering the representative from the startup the opportunity to raid your stash of promotional CDs. None of which cost you anything in particular.

(2) Wait for an article in the New York Times, or Variety, on the website/technology in question. Now, your CEO might have actually heard of the project, so you better be able to say something like “we’re working on it.”

(3) Begin negotiation, but demand rather extreme terms. Use phrases like: “We aren’t going to help you build another MTV on our backs.”

(4) When startup will not agree to such extreme terms, threaten lawsuit in private.

(5) Slowly relax terms by doing experiments with undeniably low potential impact. Particularly good choices involve relatively uninteresting pop bands or artists of which no one has heard, or about which no one really cares (like a Paris Hilton record). Deny that these experiments are undeniably lame.
(6) Use the lame results from (5) to prove your point that the startup in question has nothing that great to offer.

(7) Return to the tactic of point (3), then skip to (8)

(8) When (3) does not work a second time, threaten a lawsuit in public. Ideal placement of this threat would be in the New York Times, or Variety.

(9) Return to negotiation, now with added mojo of pending lawsuit.

(10) Cut deal.

(11) However. Should any member of the executive team, or board, of the startup, be an ex-media executive who held positions higher than yourself. Proceed to point (10) immediately and offer free CDs and tickets.