5 scams bad people try to pull on unsigned artists that you must avoid

Spinnup is here to distribute your songs all over the world and together with our Scouts help you promote your music, develop your career and hopefully get you discovered.

Unfortunately there are people out there who, for reasons that range from massive greed to pure scumbaggery, see ambitious unsigned artists as something to be exploited and ripped off. These people are evil and you shouldn’t ever have anything to do with them. So here are a few tips on what to look out for and avoid.

1. Fees for A&R introductions or other industry contacts

There are people out there who claim to be A&Rs, or to know some, and for a fee of money will help broker introductions even get a deal. But only if the unsigned artist pays this person first. These people are what are known as LIARS. A&Rs are the people in labels who discover and sign new artists, working with them to help create and develop their craft. They do not get paid by unsigned artists. Ever. Anyone who suggests otherwise is simply not a legitimate music industry professional and should be given as wide a berth as possible. Real A&Rs find exciting new artists. They don’t need to fleece those artists for cash before they’ll listen to or work with them.


2. Pay up front to be represented

Managers and agents are paid by commission, in other words, they only get paid if the artist they represent gets paid. So if someone says they want to represent you as your manager or agent, but they first they need to be paid by you in advance of doing anything, they are not a manager or agent as understood by the music industry.


3. Charges for playing live

Gigging is an essential activity for almost all unsigned artists, and as we’ve said before it’s very important to get right  if you’re serious about this whole music thing. It’s also very important to not get ripped off in the process. Some venues may determine their fee based on how many fans you bring along, and there may be a minimum guarantee of tickets you have to sell. If that’s the case, once you pass that minimum you must have the ability to actually earn a share of the money from the sales you bring in. And it should be completely clear upfront what that break-even point is. Think about what is realistic for you and that you’re comfortable with that.


4. Buying tickets for mystery unsigned artist nights

This is a scam that pops up from time to time – unsigned artists are approached by a supposed promoter who has supposedly selected them to appear in a night of unsigned artists. All the artist has to do is buy tickets to guarantee their appearance, they will then get more tickets to sell for themselves, and never see their money again or hear any more about this supposed gig. There are lots of nights out there for unsigned artists and you should absolutely be trying to get on the bill and many will expect you to help sell tickets, but make sure the gig is legit before getting involved.


5. If it sounds too good to be true…

Then it probably is. Building a successful music career is a long hard slog. The rewards can be varied and immense, but they have never come to anyone without lots and lots of hard work. So if someone is offering something that seems a little too easy, just too good to be true, be on your guard. And if they’re asking for your money up front, without the guarantee of anything, be even more careful. Being a successful musician is hard enough as it is, don’t make things harder for yourself by falling victim to a scam from a terrible person.

One lovely group that are not too good to be true are collection societies. Find out more Collection Societies – Decoded.


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