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3 Signs Your Band Is Getting Scammed 

Yesterday a friend of mine called me with a question. His band had been contacted (via ReverbNation) by a company who claimed that they were a publishing and licensing firm in Los Angeles. Oooooh Los Angeles.

The company told him that they saw his profile, liked one of his songs, and thought they could get their song placed in Television and Film, but of course there was a price, three hundred dollars to be exact ($300!!!). For this price the company would spend the next year getting the band’s music out there…. rrrrrrright.

See this example contains all of the classic signs you’re being scammed and they are…

3. That “Not Right” feeling: Does the offer feel weird? Does it feel like a scam? Does it sound too good to be true? If you’ve answered “Yes” to any of those questions then you’re probably getting scammed.

2They contact you via a third party site (ReverbNation, Bandcamp, MySpace etc). You see what most of these companies do is use “Bots.” A bit of computer code that is written specifically for these third party sites to find eager young musician. This used to happen a lot during the MySpace days. A company would contact you with a generic statement like “Hey ______ , I really like your song ______. We think it would be a great fit with our company. Please send us a message if you’re interested.” Classic bot stuff.

And the number one sign your band might be getting scammed……

1They make you pay money first. They always want money first. If the company really believes in your music they wouldn’t ask for this because they know that they’ll be making money from your music. If they’re asking for money first, it’s probably a scam.

If someone really cares about your music they will be willing to invest in you first, they’ll know more than just one song, and you’ll have clear and transparent communication between you and them. If you’re finding any of these 3 signs in dealing with a company, perhaps it’s time to take a closer look at exactly how they will benefit you because most of the time, in my experience, it’s a scam. 


Matt Voyno is the co-author of the award winning internationally published book+blog The New Rockstar Philosophy. He enjoys chewing the fat about the new music business.

Reader Comments (10)

When in doubt, you're getting scammed. What a great industry...

December 7 | Registered Commentercole parzenn

I've been seeing stuff like this lately.

Apparently everyone is a music supervisor now...and sometimes a scam artist.

It's very easy to confuse a green musician with a lot of these things. With everyone trying to cash in on publishing/synch, there are a lot of people out there who claim to have "experience" and "connections" within ads, film and tv. A lot of them tell you of their great paydays and that for 50% they'll take you on and rep you.

These are not music supervisors, or publishers, they are people who know those people and though they might be able to get you through the door, their services in most cases is worth a finders fee at best (which usually roll in between 10 and 20%).

December 14 | Unregistered Commentergaetano

I would also make sure that any contracts you are asked to sign are reviewed by someone other then the band. A lawyer that knows contracts is a good start since you don't want to get to the point of a label deal or distribution and find out that that you don't have the rights to speak for yourself. I would also shy away from any long term contract of any kind for any new artists.

December 14 | Unregistered CommenterNelson

Speaking of this, has anyone ever heard of the All Indie Music Awards (produced by the Great Unknowns podcast)? I don't think they are a scam, but after asking around, no one I know in the industry has ever heard of them. Any insight?

December 14 | Unregistered CommenterShelby

this information is only relevant for the parts of the music industry that usually charge a percentage of profits. for sectors that charge a flat fee, no one should expect that they won't be asked to pay at least part of the fee upfront, if not all of it, because they're not involved in sales or generating profit. you should never expect a cd manufacturer or a publicist writing a press release, for example, to charge nothing because they "believe" in your music.

December 14 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

I get this email on a regular basis & they want $300 & you to re-register your songs so they have 50% of the publishing. I'm torn about saying it's a total scam because maybe they do have connections & if you make money that you wouldn't have been able to otherwise is it a scam just because they make more money than you off of it? Is it money any worse spent than those invested in advertising? Who knows? I would say if you ask them who some of their clients are & you try to contact them & none of them have made their money back, it's pretty safe to bet you won't either.

December 14 | Unregistered CommenterBrian John Mitchell

if you can't contact an actual person that's certainly a bad sign. and you should never be shy about asking for references, or simply doing some research on your own.

December 15 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Industry specialists are more interested in YOU as a package, not just one song or tune. Seek out mentors advice if your solo. Anyone asking you to pay anything is alarm bells. Always get names and phone numbers, Google search email address details & check out "whois". TC! Haych -

December 16 | Unregistered CommenterHaych

this idea of never expecting to have to pay anything is complete nonsense. is that what you're going to tell the engineer when you go to record? "dude, if you believe in me then you'll know i'll pay you after i make it big." you'd be thrown out on your ear, and rightfully so. go try that with the electric company and see how far it gets you.

December 16 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Yes further the band mentality that everything should be done for free. No, I am a very established consultant, manager, and label executive, and have been doing it 20 years, and I won't do ANYTHING without getting paid SOMETHING upfront. Just because someone offers a legitimate service, and you pay for it, that does not mean you are getting "scammed". Sure you need to use common sense, but there are plenty of legitimate services publicity, radio, various consulting companies that DO offer retainer services, and absolutely require SOME kind of payment upfront.

When I was 22 I did stuff for free because I "believed" in it. Now I have kids and bills and a family to support, and it is a business. I just think the writer fails to make that distinction.

December 17 | Unregistered CommenterThom Hazaert

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