Multi-millionaire recording artist Pitbull, born Armando Perez, has sealed his fair share of deals. Some, like teaming up with P. Diddy to launch record label Bad Boy Latino, you might expect; others, like partnering with fragrance company Parlux to launch a Pitbull line of perfumes and colognes, you might not.
But every contract the Grammy-winner inked has played a role in his steady rise from a kid growing up in a rough Miami neighborhood to one of the world's most business-savvy musicians.
And as varied as his business dealings are, Perez credits one guiding philosophy with his success when it comes to getting what he wants: "The best negotiation is the one you can walk away from," he tells CNBC Make It. "I try to never put myself in a position where you fall in love with a deal."
It's a lesson he learned in 2007 when an early deal he closed soured. Before Perez started to gain a mainstream following, he had signed a contract with TVT Records, lured in part by what was then a big payday, despite some unfavorable terms — the deal prevented Perez from collaborating with outside artists. His relationship with the company broke down when Perez was blocked from releasing his earlier recordings with another label. It was a bad situation that could have stifled his ascent to stardom. Luckily for Perez, after a lengthy legal battle, he was able to get out of the contract.
"No matter what kinda check they wave in front of you, there's nothing better than your freedom," he says. It took discipline to remember that, but Perez used it as a compass as he began to do deals that were bigger in dollar value and scope, like signing on as brand ambassador for Bud Light and Dr. Pepper.
And even as fame presented him with more possibilities and gave him more leverage, Perez says he still approached things the same way he did before he was Pitbull, emphasizing the value of being upfront in negotiations.
"I don't ever go into a deal trying to outhustle anybody. I go into a deal, I talk straight," he says. "Don't ever come to a negotiating table trying to, like, rob somebody or something. ... You just started that deal wrong even if you got it. You may walk away with a bigger ego, but you already started that money with the wrong energy."
Last but not least, Perez says he avoids partnering with friends. As he translates from a popular Spanish idiom, "Clear accounts conserve good friendships."
Explains Perez: "I have people that I can make a billion dollars with, but I'd rather be their friend than do business with them because that means more to me."
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