Sunday, August 10, 2014

Negotiations Interview with Josh Mahan, Owner of Mahan Music Productions

 What a pleasure it was to meet and interview Josh Mahan (J. Mahan, personal communication, August 10, 2014). As I struggled to decide on whom to interview for this assignment, a simple need for a specialized cable in my studio lead me to this entrepreneur and business owner. He has an incredibly positive attitude about the outlook of the music production industry, which is very refreshing. It reminded me that I got into this business to help people express themselves through music, and he reminded me several times during the interview to “stick with the people.” He also reminded me to “value your skills”. Most of us at Full Sail have been through the initial stage of fighting off the naysayers: “Get a real job.” “That’s a pipe dream.” In our finance class last month, Robert Kiyosaki reminded us “a job is a temporary solution to a long-term problem.” (Kiyosaki, 2012).
I asked permission to record the phone interview, and Josh agreed. Then, I asked the standard questions from the course instructions, but what I received were eye-opening results.  Here are some important excerpts from the interview:

1. How do you separate the people from the problem when negotiating? What tips do you have for new negotiators that are trying to do this?

“I just stick with the people. The problems will drift away, and there won’t be problems anymore, as long as you stick to people.” That statement reminds me of Chapter 7 in Maxwell’s book, Developing The Leader Within You: “Developing Your Most Appreciable Asset: People.” (Maxwell, 1993).

2.  How do you handle positional bargaining tactics?

“Usually, I know it’s going to happen.  I know there is going to be a war about this, because most artists don’t understand the process. They don’t understand what it takes to get [an initial product] to a finished product. And that’s okay. The biggest thing is establishing guidelines right off of the bat.”

3. Can you give me an example of how you worked toward mutual benefit when you were negotiating a deal?

Josh gave two examples, one bad and one good:

(a) “There was an expected finalization of a project… but when it came down to press record, the musicians were not ready.” In the short of it, the musicians had high expectations but low preparedness.  That statement reminded me of an old Marine Corps phrase: “Lack of preparation on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.”
(b) “In this new project that I did, I went straightforward and wrote out exactly what I wanted to do, and so far everything is going great.” That is the nutshell (or more than a nutshell, in Josh’s words) of this week’s class. Be clear, be concise, let no one be confused about the terms, and things will be fine.

Ambiguity leads to descent. Be brief, be brilliant, and be gone. Negotiate on the facts of the situation, not your underlying emotions. If you do, all parties involved will prosper.

Josh and I met this week. There is no prior affiliation.

For your music production needs, you can reach Josh Mahan at:

Mahan Music Productions
Phone: (615) 440-6273


Kiyosaki, Robert (2012). Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Scottsdale, AZ. Plata Publishing.

Maxwell, John C. (1993). Developing the Leader Within You.  Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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