To drive a hard bargain is, of course, to be demanding and unwilling to give ground when negotiating something. More often than not it is better to do the opposite and “drive a soft bargain.” I practically gave away the first arrangement I did for an orchestra. I didn’t have any real experience writing for that ensemble. I had done a couple of studio orchestra compositions, but I relied on the rhythm section and improvising soloists to carry the ball. When I got a call to do my first orchestra arrangement they were taking a chance on me, though they weren’t aware of it. I was happy just to get my foot in the door, and it worked out well. I ended up doing several arrangements for them, which lead to others, and those to others and those. . . you get it.
Always keep the big picture in mind. Don’t try to make a killing on every opportunity. Build your reputation and lay some groundwork. My friend, Jeff Tyzik offers a good example. When he was ready to take that leap of faith into the Pops conductor world, he gave orchestras a price that was well below market. They must have figured they had nothing to lose. They had no programming ideas, but he did, plus, he was cheap. Don’t be shortsighted. (P.S.: That was then. This is now. Jeff is definitely no longer inexpensive.)