So, with the fact that we have hundreds of new students in BIMM starting to gig and work in each of our cities, it pays to to acknowledge the possibility that unscrupulous types may attempt to exploit your keenness to succeed. Thankfully, we’ve compiled a list of the most common signs which you should be aware of – with thanks to BIMM Manchester’s Damian Morgan.
Over the last couple years it’s become clear that scammers can be easy to distinguish – some of these signs may be more obvious than others, but of course everyone is at a different level in the industry and some people may be more prone to falling for these scams. Hopefully this may be helpful to a lot of you!
(Note: if you receive emails from companies, or contracts, please get guidance via a tutorial from your business tutors and/or Careers and Industry advisors. You can book these by speaking to reception staff).
PROMISING SUCCESS DESPITE NO EVIDENCE OF A TRACK RECORD
Obviously most new or independent companies are unlikely to have huge artists on their roster, which isn’t a problem at all (you could be their first successful act, for all you know) – but if they’re bragging about a track record with nothing to back it up apart from their word, then that’s a different story entirely! Check in with us, and do your research.
PITCHING THEMSELVES WITH A GENERIC, UNTARGETED EMAIL
Does it look like a copy and paste job? Most of the time, these companies send identical emails en-masse to as many artists as possible regardless of their genre, fanbase size, how established they are etc and although the email may seem flattering, chances are they haven’t even listened to your music.
LITTLE TO NO POSITIVE REVIEWS
Even five minutes worth of Googling can give you an impression of whether something’s a scam or not . Look out for damage control as well – if a lot of bands apparently go with a company and there’s very little evidence of any experience on the internet, tread carefully.
PROVIDING NOTHING FOR YOU THAT YOU CAN’T DO YOURSELF
Only ever sign with someone if they can prove that they can bring you a few levels higher, and are more than just an expensive substitute for a mass-email bot or a TuneCore account. Never sign for the pure sake of having a manager / label / etc. just because you think that it’ll look better on your CV – be selective! If you don’t need a middle man, then cut out the middle man! Always always always seek advice before even considering signing ANYTHING
Not so much a problem with casual conversation, but do you really want someone professionally representing your brand if they are unable to type a coherent sentence?
DEMANDING MONEY UPFRONT
While of course all businesses need to make a profit to survive, the problem with management companies or record labels that charge upfront fees is that they make a guaranteed consistent profit (directly from the band’s pockets) regardless of the amount of effort they put in, whereas if you sign to one that works on a percentage/commission basis then it’ll be a more equal effort to generate a profit for all involved.
As previously said, while businesses need to make money to make a living and to be able to provide their service, if you help generate a profit for them and barely see a penny then that’s always unfair.
THE NEED TO INSIST THEY’RE NOT A SCAM
…or that their business model is typical for corporate level music. Any reputable company can just prove it without saying.
Not all of these are single indicators on their own, so we’d advise you to use your gut instinct and only approach them with caution. While the bad practice out there in the music scene may seem overwhelming, in reality it’s only a small fraction and most people are genuine and out there to help you as long as you communicate well and stay honest so they can help you. Be wary and look out for any common red flags and you should be safe, and of course if you are sceptical about anybody then please feel free contact to your Music Business tutor.