It is incredibly easy to be scammed in the music industry. Sadly, musicians are prime targets for scams. Many of us are struggling to be heard and to get new fans. We are willing to invest time and money into growing our business, and unfortunately, there is no linear direction toward success. That leaves many options open, which means it’s believable that we could become successful in strange ways. I want to save you some time and hopefully some money, so let’s talk about how to avoid major scams in the music industry.
1. We want to get our music heard.
Duh. Why else would we make it?
2. Many of us want to be famous.
It’s okay to admit this. Denying your desire to be as big as Lady Gaga isn’t helping you, and a lot of singers I work with have this false sense of, “well, if it happens, I wouldn’t be mad, but…” I just want to tell them that it’s totally okay to want that. Denying it to others and yourself only leaves you more vulnerable to these potential scams. If being famous is something you want, accept it and own it!
3. A lot of us have no clue what it takes to get new fans or get our music heard.
This is another trap that leads us into scams. So, let’s talk about some things we can do to protect ourselves.
Avoid Getting Scammed
1. Take Your Time
I can’t stress this one enough because it’s almost always a sure sign you’re being scammed. Do you need to make a decision in the next 12 minutes? If so, it’s a scam. Any legitimate organization would allow you to have a lawyer look over the contracts, do your own research, etc. Now, of course, there is usually a time limit on most things. You can’t take weeks or months to get back to a manager or label and expect them to wait around. However, an unreasonable deadline is a red flag. Why would they want you to decide right away? Because they don’t want you to look up their company and find bad news. Which leads me to the next tip:
2. Do the Right Research
Sometimes nothing bad comes up when you simply search the company’s name. However, when you search their name and “scam” together, often times you found a lot more. Many people quickly search the company’s name just to make sure nothing is wrong (and some people don’t even do that). Maybe people don’t want to find anything bad because they want this to be their big break, but please don’t think like this! Doing research on anything will never hurt you. When you research any company, find reviews from actual clients and customers. Even reading former employee’s reviews will tell you a lot about the agency. You may find a few disgruntled clients or ex-employees, but you want the good reviews to outweigh the bad, always.
3. Evaluate Their Success Rate
If this is a PR firm, how many of their clients have been successful? If it’s a management company, how often are their artists getting booked? How do they even define success? They should have proof of some type of success story to even be considered. Of course, success is not a guarantee no matter who you sign with, but if they’ve been doing this for years and have nothing to show for it, are they a good fit for your music?
4. Pay Attention to Their Website
I’m sorry, but looks do matter here. If this company is serious about what they do, they should have a serious looking website. It doesn’t have to cost millions of dollars, but it should look like they actually put some time into it. Websites are pretty easy to create and maintain nowadays. If a company or person is legit, they have a legit-looking website, period.
5. Listen to Your Intuition
If something doesn’t feel right, pay attention. Your intuition is so important and is often overlooked! If you feel like your intuition isn’t strong, here are some great ways to improve it. However, I would argue that most musicians already have strong intuition as we’re creative individuals. If something in your heart tells you it’s not right, at least do some more research!
Have you had any experiences with potential scams?