by Sue Basko
I am a lawyer for independent media, including for independent music artists. A Chinese music company has requested the music of one of my clients, a singer with a lovely voice. I have been working on the deal for some time, changing the contract to meet our needs, etc. The whole process has taken much longer than it needs to, and many of the contacts seem repetitive and superfluous. Finally it dawned on me that we were engaged in the Asian practice of getting to know each other.
I know enough about the Asian cultures to know that one should always agree and then add any disagreement as additional information. Rather than a disagreeing response being "No, but..," it is "Yes, and.." We ask how they would like to do things, we don't tell them. We say please and thank you many times. We keep going until everyone feels comfortable with the deal.
As a practice, I write contracts that are fair and beneficial for all parties. The Chinese record company rep takes my contract back for approval. "Yes, this is fine," I am told. I am grateful they can read English, because I know only 5 words in Chinese.
I have an idea of creating a Virtual Teahouse, where we could meet virtually. There, we can virtually honor each in a virtual tea ceremony. We can virtually bow to each other. We can let each other know we are honorable and that we respect each other. We can share our insights and good ideas. The atmosphere of the teahouse is at once calm, serene, dignified, and yet bustling with life.
The tea ceremony is not so much about chitchat, as a business lunch in the U.S. might be. It is more about being present and letting the ancient traditions of trust, respect, and honor seep into the relationship. The tea, beautiful green leaves, steeps in hot water in a clay pot, then is poured into little cups. As each person sips, the group is united in sharing this same liquid, as it becomes part of their bodies.
I look at the other artists who have signed with the Chinese music company. Adele. Vampire Weekend. Other hit singers of today. Perhaps their record labels have sent representatives to China. Perhaps they have gone to a real teahouse. My client cannot afford to send me to China, though I would love to go. A virtual teahouse seems like a good alternative.
I love to build websites. Perhaps I will build a Virtual Teahouse as an online place to meet and honor each other.