For whatever reason I've had a bunch of people bring up Neil Strauss' The Game, which I guess is a book about the sub culture of Pick Up Artists- guys who delight in picking up chicks, banging them and then ditching them. Not a fan, not going to read the book but there is at least one interesting concept therein that I've heard tell about- and that is the practice of "negging" which is when a pick up artist belittles a target so that she... I don't know- doubts herself and finds the guy more attractive?
It's funny because while I've never tried (and wouldn't try) that strategy in the context of dating, I've experienced it a bunch from the other side when talking to larger entities about the possibility of a distribution agreement for the record labels I work wtih.
Basically the pitch is "Here's what you can't accomplish on your own." As Alex Dirty Beaches put it on a really compelling blog post he recently wrote about, "[D]ealing with bigger labels that continue to make me feel like all my efforts are hardly worth anything." (DIRTY BEACHES BLOG)
Now, I had nothing to do with those negotiations but I'm familiar with the tactic from my own discussions. All these more established labels rely on making the Artists feel like:
a) they haven't accomplished much on their own
b) they can't accomplish what they want to without signing a restrictive, multi-album deal.
That's the pitch- and that is also what A Pick Up Artist would call "Negging" putting someone down to help close the deal. Pretty shitty way to start a business relationship if you ask me. Why bother? Artists get so brain washed by the music industry that most of them never consider that they only reason established indies WANT to talk to them is because of what they've accomplished without the help of that established indies.
These Artists lack confidence in their own abilities, and maybe in some cases it's justified, but in others... it's just weak. It's a weakness and a lack of confidence, and the answers are going to lie inside the Artist, not with some outside business that only wants to make money off them.