Just like any other business, the music industry has it’s dark side and it’s a very ugly one, so even though I can’t say it won’t happen to you, I can give you the best advice I can from what I’ve experienced through out the years on what you can look out for:
I believe nobody actually wants to steal or go into things with a negative mindset, but people have to live and Artists are many times to certain people seen just as products to make money on. So if you are an Artist the best recommendations I can give is to:
1.Be mindful of everyone who you cross your path with, if they promise to much in a short amount of time, that’s a red flag, most deals in the industry take time, analysis and anyone who really wants to work in the right way will be willing to tell you about the process with all its risks. “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” there are cases where talent is discovered and skyrocketed in a short amount of time, but the people behind these deals are professionals who treat people the right way and set up meetings in the right way.
2. Have someone you trust with you with more experience, hopefully experience in the music industry but if its in life that works also, 4 eyes see more than two, if someone wants to deal with you alone and does not allow you to have someone with you, that’s a red flag, someone who is serious and transparent about business will not feel as a threat that you look to consult with someone you trust. If I have good intentions and a true interest in you why would I feel threatened that you have someone you trust? Be careful.
3. Ask who they have worked with and what they have done for those artists, If they tell you that they can’t tell you because it’s classified, that’s a red flag, why would you hide the fact that you’ve worked with big names or small names? If a person cannot give references as to who they’ve worked with and what they’ve done for them, then that’s a problem, something is not right. And if its someone starting out that does not have the experience, unless they are connecting you with people that do have the experience, do you want to be the test bunny and with someone who is not being truthful?
4. Many times people who say they can put the world on a platter for you and that can actually do it will always want something in return, the Devil buy’s souls and if you are going to sell yours, know the weight that that comes with. To break an artist in the US costs anywhere from 1 to 1.5 Million dollars and if you or your family do not have the cash, the people that do will often have such big egos that they will have nothing less than you bowing down to them in exchange for the investment. Anything you say out of your opinions or questions will be offensive, the only thing they will accept is to have their boots licked and they will make sure you are tied in some way until they get their money back plus interest. So if this is what you want, be ready for it because if your soul and your peace of mind is worth 1.5 Million than be prepared for what that comes with.
5. If someone talks, talks, talks and talks, but does nothing, be careful. We have a saying in my country “Dog that barks doesn’t bite” the people in the world who accomplish things are “DO ers” not “Talkers”, so if someone says they can Do a lot for you but cannot even afford a ticket to get to meet you in person or pay for a hotel, red flag. The first thing a serious person will do is to meet you and show their face in person, even if its thru Skype and if Millions are to be made do you really think a gold mine would be just treated like crap? They will see the value and want to come see you in person; they will also have an email, references, a valid phone number, an office or address.
6. In many cases salesmen first promise the world and what they can do for you and when you are hyped they ask for the money, this is a very old sales strategy that still works today, so when someone is talking and promising to much go straight to the point and ask , how much will this cost me? In the music business its all about how much money can be made, how many albums are sold, so it’s a lot about the $ and I have not met the first person who doesn’t mention eventually “Money talks, Bullshit walks” and “Cash is King”
7. Do not go one step forward until you are absolutely sure what you are getting yourself into, and with who, do not give money, or information that can be used to your disadvantage. I have known artists that feel safe and give 100k for promotion and go nowhere, even with sources that are known, so be very careful.
The good news is that fortunately there is still honesty, integrity and the genuine desire to develop projects that transcend in and for the world, and the investors, executives and people who can accomplish this are out there, people who will see the value in your talent and ability to create Music/perform and reach certain markets and that will want to make money with you, not on you, people that will be professional, that will do things correctly giving you the Just amount for your work and what you are bringing to the table as an Artist, people who will treat you with human dignity and kindness, and even if they are hard to cross paths with I honestly believe it is worth the wait because you will have better relationships and a solid career in the long term. You will profit together.
I hope this article helps artist protect themselves and gives you some alerts on what to look out for with people who you cross path with in the BIZ.