Dealmaking is an art, not a precise science. It is full of a lot of complex, multi-level thinking and imagination.
For me, who has been involved in thousands of media music deals over the years, the most important first step is identifying the vast array of potential “buckets” of compensation. Knowing what is potentially available for compensation is vital in broadening the horizons of how to approach a deal.
Here is a partial list of “buckets” of compensation:
Working out kinks
Working with musicians
Something to barter
Association with project
Paying it forward
Sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll
Blazing new directions
Contributing art into the world
Taking a challenge
Expression of passion
Connection with others
Joy of risk-taking
Prior to starting any deal, it is helpful to identify how much importance you place on each of these buckets. Typically, it is not a binary yes/no for each bucket. It is more about how much weight is personally given to each.
What amounts or values do you care to fill up each bucket? If it about money, what dollar amounts? If it is about credit, what level of credit? If it is about relationships, what quality and quantity of potential relationships do you foresee?
How much do you value each bucket?
How do you measure filling that bucket to achieve that value.
When actually making the deal, one can reference your previously-defined priorities of each bucket to get a sense of how to drive the deal and in which directions.
It is also worth noting that over time, as careers and experiences evolve, the priorities and weights of buckets shift along with those evolutions.
I find the more successful composers tend to have a great deal of fluidity and flexibility in their deal making since they give great value to a wide range of compensation buckets.
They tend to not get hung up on only focusing on a few buckets because they perceive value in many.
Personally, I love the artistry of mixing various “buckets” much like a painter might enjoy blending colors when they create.