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Scammers and the Music Industry

Updated: Aug 23, 2023


If you’re reading this then you’re most likely a recording artist, rapper, music manager or someone that engages in business deals across a spectrum of music industries. I’m writing this because of my experiencing maximum frustration in looking for and fielding what I hope to be legitimate business opportunities. These false and flagrant opportunities come in a variety of forms and perhaps I’m the idiot for entertaining any of them, if you’re reading this, then please point me in the right direction…otherwise, keep going.

Don’t ever work with Nicholas Beirne of Total Music aka “totally worthless”. $500 paid to him and he’s done literally nothing to move the needle on my brand, not even a scratch. Unfortunately you will meet managers or music marketer types that are full of shit and he is one of them. These people claim to have connections and relationships to labels, people, platforms, radio, playlists, and in actuality they have nothing.

So basically if someone reaches out to you claiming this or that, do your research and if you’re not 1000% sure of it’s legitimacy, leave that deal on the table (cause the table isn’t even there) and leave that individual alone.

Here’s the common scams. Presale tickets with exorbitant rates having to be paid to the promoter to cover venue/tour costs. If you’re paying to play and paying to open, just make sure the price is fair and not overblown, if the set is under 20 minutes you shouldn’t be paying more than $500 to open for any artist unless it’s giant festivals, mainstream televised events, etc, and I’m being generous in that figure.

Cartoon and generic animation artists on IG: do not pay attention to their DMs about cartoonizing you, animated music videos, animated cover arts. They’re all liars and don’t deliver any product, they download some popular avatars and pretend to be animators. They’re all fakers.

Interning for individuals that don’t make real money in the music business. That should be obvious. If you’re interning at a studio it needs to be one that produces and publishes money making records, otherwise its a studio trying to a build a name, and then they’re building a name off of your free labor (remember you're already building yourself a name).

If anyone approaches you online about slots for Rolling Loud they are preying on your [thirst] for a mainstream opportunity, don’t ever pay anything or send money to anyone without seeing real paperwork and contracts hit your email, ideally they’re notarized correctly. No one reaching out to you has slots for Rolling Loud, they’re all bastards, fuck em.

Don’t worry…there’s more! Due to the creative and imaginative nature of the entertainment industries there might never be a fool proof end to these nefarious scams. That’s why I am here to do my due diligence in DOXXING them. All of them.

Don’t ever accept promotion packages from people reaching out to you that claim they can get you real results on music and social platforms, yet these same people that hit you up on social media are representing [3rd parties]. 100% of the time these companies are giving you [bots and bot views] in return for your money, never again. (Keep in mind this is different from paying someone or a company to run ads for you with the likes of Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok.) Running legitimate ads for a client utilizing the in app or on platform tools designed by the company itself; is completely kosher. These services should be touted more as they are organic and offer clarity of product as opposed to inflated numbers that don’t represent the true level of a recording artist. (Think 20k followers on IG but they get under a 100 likes, that's a clear red flag that they buy fake vanity metrics)

Recording artists all have to carve out their own path in the music industry, and there seems to be a gaping lack of industrial standards to follow if you want to engage in legitimate business. That’s okay, it only means there’s an incredible amount of room for explosive growth in a positive direction. I can do my part in giving back by pointing out the things that you must absolutely avoid in the music industry.

During your pursuit of the music business conquest, many people will approach you on trades, bargains, and exchanges of work that leave out a monetary value. These are perfectly fine to engage in, with the mindset that you’re gaining experience, but these relationships and projects won’t necessarily break your career [blow it up, we call that “breaking” a record], but they will help build it because catalog is important. While you’re building on an independent level and not too focused on generating revenue; just make sure your proceedings are fair and equal. Often I observe (it's happened to me as well) artists give away all their time to projects in exchange for just bragging rights to say they did that certain thing, that's totally fine but eventually you want to value your time on a numerical level so people aren’t benefiting off of your labor without you seeing a return. Returns are different for everyone, but time should absolutely be valued so you can be properly compensated.

If someone contacts you from a record label via text, more than likely, they are scammers pretending to be an official employee of a record label. The most recent experience I had was someone claiming to be the Vice President of Epic Records Jeffrey Jacques, trying to sell me $1200 slots on Rolling Loud Miami. He became aggressive as fuck over the phone and tried to belittle me and make me feel like an idiot, this could most likely be the same individual who stained my ass over $150 last year, fucking buster. Don’t ever listen to anyone telling you to google their linkedin or look up their marketing material, actual employees would have the official copy not ask you to view it via google. I may be the sacrificial lamb, but so be it I’ll be the [God Body to get bodied] if that means reaching martyrdom in the music business built off sacrilege.

Producers: Stop having a tiered price for the mp3 as opposed to the .wav. Stop doing that, your most basic tiered lease should be the .wav as there’s no laborious difference in giving an artist a .wav bounce as opposed to an MP3, Chicago’s most established studio engineers would agree with me about this, include the .wav in your basic leases, its just pointless not to, and trying to double the price from mp3 to .wav is LUDAcris. Regardless of whether you give an artist a .wav or not you’re only giving them the compressed quality and then doubling the price for the uncompressed HQ version? Realize they can just convert it themselves but then you’re out here selling sounds that lose their quality anyway. In conclusion, basic leases = .wavs.

If a person named Phil Taylor [the frontman of the now defunct Future Leaders of the World] reaches out to you to try to book you for a virtual showcase (with ZERO actual major label A&Rs), again don’t do it. And you don’t need to take my word for it, no one I mentioned in specificity has a real product to sell you, they are SCAMMERS. Try it out, or ask around.

Showcases put on by supposed A&R’s from Atlantic Records are not real showcases, they don’t actually sign anyone to any deals, it simply serves the purpose of bringing in extra revenue for the label while preying on indies they had no intention of doing business with. Don’t fall for these, the prizes are never legitimate, if you do end up with a deal, you will be shelved.

Stop emailing, reaching out, and submitting to blogs, if you’re not already on their radar screen then soliciting them for promotion, press, marketing, etc is a waste of FUCKING time. You’re better off spending your time marketing your work to the people already rocking with you [RUN ADS], and soliciting accessible markets and channels to reach new audiences. For example, if you’re a rapper reading this, email me your latest work, my platforms are growing and soon Wilhelm Duke’s name will be greater than any narrow minded hip hop platform.

I don’t write this to be a negative nancy nor do I want to paint a picture of hopelessness. My purpose is to help you visualize a minefield where the explosive devices are all visible so you can EASILY avoid them, that’s all, and although some of this article is written in spite, spite is sometimes a greater motivator than love, and I’m comfortable in admitting that.

Rappers, do your homework and actually include your collaborators on DistroKid so they can properly make back end revenue. This will not be elaborated on.

If something feels uneasy, it's not a good deal. If something feels too good to be true, it most likely is.

This will not be the last time I write about this, in fact I probably just opened a can of worms for more content to be published about entertainment scams. If you have anything to add or would like to discuss anything in specificity don’t hesitate to post on my blog’s comment section, reach out to me directly on social media, or email me at wilhelmdukemgmt@gmail.com.

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