Scam Music Contracts and How To Avoid Them


3 Things to Consider Before Signing

Music Artists Listen Up!… Should you sign a music career development deal or are they just a clever scam?

Signing a scam music contract could potentially end your music career before it even begins.

You do not want to be signing your life or your rights away, especially if music is a part of your soul and your main pride and joy!

So you need to be 100% sure before you sign anything that’s put in front of you and you also need to know what to look out for.

With music becoming so accessible thanks to the explosion of YouTube and music streaming services, more artists are trying to forge their way in the music industry.

Talented artists who are desperate to get their music heard to achieve their dreams can often fall prey to unscrupulous individuals who circle around them like sharks (and most likely have very little experience of the industry) but who will promise you that they can turn you into a stadium-filling artist in return for a rather large monthly fee.

Being approached by a producer, A&R guy or songwriter who claims to have great connections in the industry is the stuff a budding musician’s dreams are made of.

But do they really have the evidence to back up their lofty claims?

Let’s take a look at how these music scammers operate.

The first thing you should know to be wary of is an ‘Artist Development Deal’.

This is not a record deal.

Let’s get that straight right away.

An artist development deal is usually made between a musician and a company who want money upfront to take you from where you are now to selling out arenas.

They may tempt you in by name-dropping established musicians they claim to have previously worked with.

They may offer to manage your social media, create a website for you or arrange the services of a professional photographer and book studio time.

They may even have an impressive address on Music Row.

Image Source: PR Newswire

All sounds good, right? But before you write a cheque and part ways with your hard-earned money, there are a few things that you need to ask yourself:

✓ Can I do this myself?

✓ Do they currently have a good pedigree of artists? or a history of?

✓ Will this joint venture bring any meaningful movement to my career?

Let’s dive into these questions a little further.

Can you really make it by yourself? Or is whatever it is they are claiming to be able to provide you with something you genuinely need some help and assistance with?

If you can do it yourself, you should.

Just as an example, if you needed a photographer, why would you pay a premium to a middleman to book a photographer when you can hire one yourself?

Managing your own social media channels is also beneficial as you’ll better connect with your audience.

Okay onto the next question…now let’s say they may boast an impressive client list, and you’re really impressed by the names they are dropping!

However, if the reality is that they played a small part in launching one artist’s career back in the Nineties, then this should set alarm bells ringing.

Ask them for a list of musicians, bands and artists that they have actually launched into the big time.

If they can’t show you this, then it’s highly unlikely they will be able to make your music career successful.

Something else to consider in regard to a joint venture…even if the development company has your best interests at heart, what are the tangible elements they can bring to your career?

Wishy-washy promises of working with a songwriter (who may have never seen success) is simply not worth paying for.

If you’ve any doubts regarding a music contract, make sure you have it checked out, click here to find a pro!

The Record Deal

A true record deal can only be offered by an established and proven record label or A&R person.

They will not ask you for a lump sum upfront or for any monthly payments.

If a label truly believes that you have the talent to make in the music industry, they will be totally cool with paying all the upfront costs.

They will provide advance money for the recording studio, equipment and even your living expenses.

They will hook you up with booking agents, management and PR gurus who are all established players in their field.

Of course, be under no illusions that you will need to pay this advance cash back – but the difference is that if a record company are willing to invest in you, they totally believe that you have the talent to make it in the cut-throat business that is the music industry.

Remember – before you sign on the dotted line, ask yourself how the developer can make a difference to your career.

If it sounds too good to be true, then the chances are it probably is.

So make sure to not get taken advantage of, get clued up and keep making great music! ✌️

If you want to keep learning, be sure to check out this next article by Indeprenuer ‘5 Reasons You Should Never Sign A Major Label Record Deal’


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Andrea graduated from Roehampton University and The BRIT School, whose globally recognized alumni include Adele, Katy B, Ella Eyre, FKA Twigs, Jessie J, Leona Lewis, Katie Melua, Kate Nash and the Rizzle Kicks. She takes her love of the arts and entertainment industry to provide useful information to upcoming musicians, helping them navigate the industry and avoid making costly mistakes. She actively mentors our current contributors. Andrea has qualifications in Content Marketing and also manages our collaborative playlists for independent artists

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