Seems there are just as many con artists making money in the music industry in 2021 as there are bonafide musicians. In the following 7 days we’ll be breaking down the biggest 7 scams we’ve seen fake professionals run on rookie artists. These scams are in no specific order, they’re all major sources of draining your dollars. Scam number one: The Contact List. There are individuals, bloggers, consultants, A&Rs, artists, companies, marketers who sell e-mail lists with the high promise of putting you directly in touch with key people in the industry. Some have even started charging MONTHLY for giving you access to these VIP contacts. Here’s what we say instead: NEVER pay for a single contact. Niente. Nada. Zero. Nimic. Hоль. Here are 5 Reasons why any list for sale is a straight SCAM in all circumstances.
5. Whoever you need, you can find on LinkedIn for FREE.
Every single professional that’s relevant in this day and age has a profile on LinkedIn. You can type in the search bar the job titles of the people you want to reach out to, and BAM! A list of industry professionals who feature their contact details, their social media interests, their background, their legit connections, etc. LinkedIn is truly marvelous as it serves so many purposes! It acts as a database of verified business people, a search tool for individuals you already know but can’t think of ways to reach them, a background check as you can see who they’re connected to and their employment history. Often, LinkedIn also serves as a basis for building someone’s psychological profile. By seeing what they post, what groups they’re part of, who they engage with, the subjects they talk about, you will get a much better idea of how to approach them without coming off as an asshole looking for a free ride.
Takeaway: No list in the world will offer you this much in-depth data on music professionals as LinkedIn does.
4. Usually these lists comprise American contacts only.
And that’s highly irrelevant to you if you for example live in Canada, Australia, UK, Europe, Africa, etc. Although we all speak English, every single country has its own unique approach and preferences when it comes to the music industry. If you’re an Irish singer, you want to build local connections first! You want all local DJs, venues, engineers, artists to know of your existence, of your music, and preferably, support it too. Only when you’ve established a solid brand awareness in your home country, can you seek to expand your network across the borders or the oceans. An A&R from United States won’t be able to do jack for you if you’re not physically in the same location as he/she is. Ask Justin Bieber who had to be flown in by Scooter Braun in order to pitch his music to American record labels and radio stations. And no, Justin did not buy a stupid list. He was creating sensational content on YouTube that amassed MILLIONS of views before Scooter Braun even took an interest in developing and signing him.
Takeaway: A list of foreign contacts will serve you no purpose.
3. The e-mails and phone numbers are more likely than not, available in public databases, and are now defunct.
Here’s the deal: when you work with very wealthy clients, aka the Beyoncés and the Arianas of the industry, by association, you become a target of hackers all the time. The result? The truly well-connected people in the music business change their e-mails and phone numbers VERY often. Besides security breaches, they fall victim to disloyal friends who sell their contact information to these websites and individuals who in turn, resell the contact to YOU! Subsequently, their inbox gets flooded, they can’t churn through the unrequested material and real client e-mail and WHOOSH! They moved on to a new e-mail account. So why are you buying dead lists?
Takeaway: The older the list, the more useless it is.
2. The individuals on the list NEVER accept unsolicited material.
When your time is money and a recommendation of yours can make or break an artist, you only deal with people who you personally know. People who you trust, people who matter, people you’ve been knowing for a long time. Reputation and influence take decades of constantly working and networking in the music industry. The truly valuable professionals CHOOSE who they want to help out. So unless they, themselves choose YOU, you’ll never get to work with them. Your job as an artist is to get to the point where these individuals reach out to you FIRST! If you’re the one knocking on their door, just know there’s a queue of industry-approved artists waiting before you, and before they get to care about your e-mail, you’ll be growing white hair and hugging your grandchildren. It’s just not gonna happen.
Takeaway: Never be the one actively seeking industry help. Focus your attention on improving your product and growing your brand awareness as a musician instead.
1. They are fake emails made to resemble the real person’s name and end up asking you for money to sign you.
Or to do anything for you as a matter of fact. E-mail savvy scammers can easily create hundreds of fake e-mails, all redirected to the same person on the other end and you’ll never know it. So while you think you’re e-mailing the CEO of Def Jam, there’s a hustler somewhere ready to copy/paste a pitch e-mail and hit send. You are bouncing off the walls because you PAID to be able to reach that e-mail and now they actually responded to you??? WOW!!! Right??? Wrong!!! We know artists who received e-mails saying “The contract is drafted and ready to be signed. We’ll be waiting on you at X place on Y date. Please cover the travel costs in order to show your commitment to the deal.” And if you’re ignorant enough, you fall for the game and end up sending anywhere from $500 to $5000. Or more. It really is hilarious when you send that money over Cashapp or Venmo, you dummy! ALWAYS USE PAYPAL. The only online payment form that will allow you to fight for your dollars in case you get played.
Takeaway: People who ask you for money to give you money are as good as your grandma still falling for pyramid schemes (aka MLMs)