How To Avoid Scams: 4 Quick Questions To Ask To Determine If Music Services Are Legit

by Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan

File Under: Building Your Web, Social, and Mobile Presence, Building Your Music Business

There are more and more services, websites, and products today ready to help us get our music created, distributed, discovered, heard, seen, and noticed. Never in history has music been this open and global. But because the musician market has exploded in size, it's attracted some unscrupulous or incompetent players out to prey on musicians' hopes and dreams of success. Here's how to avoid them.


We've created four questions you can ask to evaluate any service, website, or product to make sure they're legitimate:

1. Did you search on their name and "scam" in a search engine?

This takes just a couple minutes: type in the service's name and the word "scam" after it and see what pops up. All it takes is a few seconds and you can quickly find out what the world is saying about them. Services with significant customer issues or problems have a hard time suppressing what the world thinks.

For example, we learned about a service that charged money to get the song in front of audiences via social media sites. Fans would rate the song as good, bad, etc. However, a simple search revealed a bunch of musicians who skeptically sent in junk white noise tracks to see if they would be highly rated. Sure enough, whether they sent in their actual songs or junk noise tracks, the same number of fans "liked" the tracks, thus proving that it was nothing more than a series of bots that liked whatever you paid to upload to them. Another hint was the lack of details about the fans that came out of it, something you'd only know if you tried the service.

2. Is the front page aimed at fans or musicians?

Some sites promise to get your music in front of fans and audiences if you pay them. However, many of these services don't have the reach they claim. You should be skeptical about any site that uses most of their front page real estate to sell you, the musician, on how they can get your music heard. True, sites that directly perform services like distribution will naturally talk directly to you the musician about the benefits of their service, however, a music blog where the front page claims to be able to get you tons of fans if you pay them is not likely to be a legit music blog where true music listeners hang out. In fact, the most popular music fan sites usually bury the link about where to submit music. And they go out of their way to make sure their listenership doesn't believe they're doing anything pay-to-play to feature certain musicians' music. If they did, they wouldn't be able to keep their own audience.

3. Is the service or site where the party's at?

As we covered in a previous article here at The DIY Advisor, you'll want to go out of your way to judge if the site is where they party is at. Using a search engine to find out who is talking about it and what coverage it's getting is a good way to determine if it's a worthy place to use.

4. Are they a good business partner (What do they charge relative to other services? What cut do they take? Do they take your rights/own your song/sound recording?)

Remember there are three parts to every music transaction: the customer, the middleman, and you. The middleman and how they treat you matters because their cut, rules, and agreements affect how much money you can keep after they're paid. All of these could affect the kind of business you can do with them and you need to make sure that their user agreements don't take your music rights forever.

Of course, keeping on top of the new services through friends, other musicians, and musician-dedicated magazines and sites like Electronic Musician can help keep you focused on the legitimate ones. However, these 4 questions don't take long to ask, and can save you a lot of trouble, embarrassment, and money. If you can keep them front of mind, you can make them an automatic part of evaluating every potential business partner, or target for your get heard campaign that you run across.


#skepticism #business #avoidingscams #getheard #hereletmegooglethatforyou

Photo credit: JD Rucker

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