Tactics for Musicians and Other Persons in Entertainment to Utilize to Avoid Being Taken Advantage of and Exploited in the Entertainment Industry by Kerri Edelman
While they do exist and are difficult to find, legitimate persons and companies with solid and reputable management backgrounds are available in the industry to assist artists who are attempting to reach the next level in entertainment. However, it’s unfortunate that a vast majority of the entertainment industry is flooded with significant amounts of dishonest, disloyal persons and/or organizations that exaggerate or misrepresent their credentials and make claims that they ultimately cannot fulfill. For instance, how many times has an artist heard a person or company suggest that they can manage the artist or band to become the next ‘Big Thing,’ push the artist’s single to the top of the charts on the major Top 40 radio stations and get the artist or band so much press that they go viral?
Without singling out or identifying certain persons and/or companies, similarly how many times has an artist come across the following scenarios: “As a well-renowned music organization promoting major artists, give us $1,500.00 and we’ll push your single to every major station across the country to get you radio air play!” and “We’ve placed major artists and their music in countless television shows, films and commercials. All you have to pay is $250.00 to submit your music and we’ll include it in our library so your music can be searched. It’s only a matter of time before your song is recognized and placed!” These statements are made to captivate and lure the artist’s attention followed by draining their wallet with nothing to show for their investment. So what are some ways that artists can avoid being scammed, taken advantage of or exploited? There are several simple and basic tactics that artists can use regularly and readily engage in to minimize or prevent unfortunate outcomes where one not only loses vast amounts of money, but much more including feelings of self-worth, distrust and discouragement.
Conduct Your Own Research
Although it will take some of the artist’s time, the key to not getting scammed or taken advantage of, partially per se, lies in the hands of the artist. Whenever an artist is approached, for example, in person or via receiving an email about an opportunity where the artist is being asked to submit their music to a music library to have it considered for placement or shell out money to have a song forwarded to radio stations across the country, the artist often is so excited about the prospective opportunity that he takes the words at face value and proceeds to fork over a lot of money without much thought. However, what the artist needs to first do is take a step back and push aside the excitement to find out most importantly if the person or company approaching the artist is legitimate and reputable. One way to proceed which does not cost the artist a cent is to start doing research on the internet about the person or company to find out the details about who they are, what they have to offer and are there any red flags or warning signs about getting involved with them. So use the traditional search engines, do your research and find out everything you can before you give them any money. Artists will be surprised to find that if there are any warning signs about the company, these will often include words such as ‘scam’ as soon as your do the search, to only find limited or no detailed information about the company and/or testimonials from others who have been taken advantage of.
Engage in Logical & Critical Thinking
The importance of conducting research and being informed as an artist was previously discussed before becoming involved with shelling out money to get your music played or placed. Let’s discuss another crucial step which is to engage in logical and critical thinking. If the research completed by the artist comes to the conclusion that the company is a scam, the easy answer is to forget about getting involved and move on. But, what if the company appears, from your findings to be legitimate? The artist should move to another crucial step which is to look beyond what the company is simply reporting and not assuming what is stated at face value. Maybe some of the information is true, in such that you give $1,500 and your music is shipped to radio stations all over the country. But by thinking critically about this scenario, an artist should be able to formulate questions such as what specific stations are receiving it, who will be listening to it (if anyone) and how does anyone ever know if it is played. Furthermore, let’s be realistic, what radio station is going to go through 100s of 1000s of random songs from unsigned artists? Not only do the stations not have the time, but sadly, they just don’t care. It is so important for an artist to think about these relevant questions. Although no artist wants to hear this, remember that most, if not all, radio stations have their own format and list of songs to play, which only include major artists that are represented by serious management and are signed to exclusive labels. Finally, a reputable management company that does provide these above services will first review the artist’s music to evaluate it and determine if it will be further listened to by a station. If the answer is it will be, a serious radio marketing campaign will range from a few hundred dollars per week to thousands of dollars per week.
Obtain Formal Referrals & Follow-Up
When an artist is considering moving forward to work with a person or company to promote their music after they have conducted their research and engaged in posing logical questions, the next step is for the artist is to ask for formal referrals that have worked with this specific organization. If a person or company is legitimate, they should have no problem with giving the artist some artists to contact so that they can ask questions about the artists’ experiences in working with the company. If the person or organization is closed off to this and/or makes a statement such as “don’t worry about anything…you are in good hands…you can trust us,” the artist should reconsider moving forward. If the artist does want to move forward, the artist should discuss and make an offer where the artist will only submit a limited amount of money and work with them for a specific time period. By doing this the artist can communicate that if after this time period passes, working further with them will only be reconsidered if they can demonstrate that they have produced visible results for the artist. Additionally, the artist may want to come up with an arrangement where they will get a certain portion of their money back if the company does not follow through and get the artist’s music played or placed.
Manage Yourself as an Artist
What artist doesn’t want to be managed by a company or label? It makes the artist feel good about his capabilities, gives himself and others the impression that he is more established (than he may be) and creates a false perception that he does not need to do any work to promote his music. However, there are other ways an artist can get his music out there without solely resorting to being managed by a person or company. Many of these pitfalls discussed above can be avoided if an artist takes his destiny into his own hands, at the very least, initially when one is starting out. When an artist is new to the industry, many question how a person or company can even consider managing an artist who does not have much to show for himself in terms of accomplishments. The only way a management company will consider an artist without having done anything is if the company is certain that the artist is so talented that they can make money off of the artist. This is by no means meant to knock the artist, but to assist the artist in understanding that there are many ways he can start promoting and pushing his music. Every artist has to walk before he can run. No artist can hit the majors by being played on a national radio station or having music placed in a major film without establishing himself unless, unfortunately, he knows someone who can get the music into the right person’s hands or, as mentioned, above is such an extreme, rare talent.
So let’s close on a positive note. No hard work, persistence, dedication and perseverance will go unrecognized by the artist who approaches the industry this way. What the artist needs to do on his own, which again is extremely time consuming, tedious and at times frustrating, is to use all forms of social media on a daily basis (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc) to build a substantial fan base where the artist must regularly interact with fans who need to become friends. The artist also needs to seek out realistic opportunities to get his music placed by, again, doing his own research and reaching out to places such as college and internet radio stations, seeking independent, low-budget films that are looking for music and providing support while networking at local shows by handing out his music for others to hear. If the artist considers following these recommendations and/or develops his own creative ways to get his music out there, he will be less likely to be taken advantage of and will see progress over time. And remember, if it sounds too good to be true, unfortunately, it probably is too good to be true.
Kerri Edelman, Psy.D. is a Clinical Psychologist, Freelance Writer, Modern Rock Recording Artist and Radio Talk Show Host for The Kerri Edelman Show. For more information on her music, visit www.myspace.com/kerriedelman and to hear her radio show, visit www.blogtalkradio.com/kerriedelman