How To Avoid Being Scammed
Following your dreams and embarking on a musical career is a very exciting thing. It feels great to allow yourself to excel as the creative talent you’ve always wanted to be. Of course being a successful artist is not easy and it’s no surprise that only a select few make it to the top spots. With the advancements in social media platforms such as YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Spotify and Soundcloud it’s easier for an artist or group to get their stuff heard by the right ears. But let me tell you that everything easy is not always good; sometimes there’s a catch. With the industry becoming so accessible online to artists and fans, remember that it’s also accessible to people who mean you harm, AKA the scammers!
As an artist, you want your music to take off more than anything so sometimes your desperation to succeed is taken advantage of. Navigating the online world is tricky, so let me share some tips with you so that we can have more success stories and less cautionary tales.
1. Don’t Be So Desperate!
It feels great when people start to take notice of your talents and offer you services and advice to help you. It feels even better when you’ve been getting no luck and a window of opportunity appears out of nowhere. Don’t be fooled though! Before you agree to pay for a service or submit your music so some random website, take a moment to think about it. How did these people find me? How did I find them? Has anyone got anywhere by submitting their music to them? In today’s blog obsessed culture, an artist's’ success is almost dependent on what some blog who has never met them thinks of their sound so it’s very easy to fall for scam websites. Use your head; if it looks unprofessional, has spelling/grammar errors and you’ve never even hear of it, run!
2. In Google We Trust
Google everything and everyone! Whether a new artist wants to work with you, a stylist, a manager or a clothing brand run their name through a search engine as part of your research. Look through several pages and see what good things are being said about this company/person and what bad things are being said as well. Make sure all the reputability isn’t coming from their personal website, see if people are actually commenting on their social media accounts, if in doubt ask a friend. If you can’t even find a website or they’re reluctant to give you details then don’t give them the time of day.
3. Get a Contract
So maybe this company/person is starting to look good and you can see that they’re the real deal, that’s great but you still need to draft up an agreement. Even if it’s on a napkin or a spare piece of paper, get a basic write up of the service agreement, sign and date, done! Never underestimate the ability of someone to turn from friend to enemy once money is involved. In the case of something film and television related read over everything either by yourself or with an entertainment lawyer if you’re not good with legal jargon. Having a contract also makes things real and lets you know what you’re entitled to, i.e. a copy of the music/video, compensation, production credits, etc.
4. Verification is Key
Has a major celebrity ever messaged you on Instagram, Twitter or even Facebook? Awesome! Did their profile have the verified check mark symbol? Run! So many people set up celebrity fan pages, meme pages and scam pages where they can easily purchase the right amount of likes to make it seem legit. If you’re just flicking through Instagram and see that “Justin Bieber52” is following you and has 405K followers you may get excited by the name and amount and assume it to be for real. If a legitimate record label is messaging you then you should also be looking for the verified symbol and an email address that can be found on the company website. One again, it’s all about research!
5. Stay Close to Home
Travel is definitely one of the perks of being famous, but don’t be jumping on any planes or trains yet if your career has just started. Try to learn as much about the scene in your own city and establish connections there first before reaching out. Building a relationship with the music industry of your city will actually help you in your quest to find out who’s real and who’s not, they may even personally recommend resources for you. If you are looking for new producers, managers or a social media company to work with see if you can actually meet them in person, this makes your business with them less risky. I know an artist who found a producer online, sent money and never received her beats - BE CAREFUL!
6. Ask ‘Why”
Whether your business is strictly online, in person or a combination of both ask this person why they want to work with you. If they can’t find a more than a couple good reasons, be skeptical; What is it about your sound they like? Which song of yours is their favourite? How did they find out about you? How do they know your colleagues? What do they see for you 2-3 years down the road? Even if they have some of the business answers, you need the personal too. You need to know that this company/person actually believes in you as an artist and doesn’t just see you as a paycheck, if they are personally invested in you then they are more likely to advocate on your behalf, listen to your ideas and make sure you’re being treated right!
Remember, being an artist is hard work and success won’t come easy. You have to pay your dues and perfect your craft before any worthwhile opportunities come around. In the meantime continue to use social media the right way by sharing your music and building you networks. Don’t pay for just any service on a website until you are confident about the quality of your product and have done your research about the company.If offers come in that are too good to be true then they probably are. Use your instincts and remember that you are in control of your career!