Don’t be scammed. “Music services” that rip off artists are everywhere

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When Facebook gets wind you’re getting ready to release a new album, an avalanche is triggered. You’ll experience a mudslide of adverts from disreputable companies promising you the earth, if you’d only pay this amount of cash with them. Yes, you could go from single-figure interest to tens of thousands of Spotify streams a month, and reach hordes of new fans, new followers, ready to like-and-subscribe once they’ve been exposed to your music through one of these curated playlists lovingly compiled by said influencer.

Don’t buy it. Really, don’t believe it and certainly don’t pay for it! It’s a scam.

With the infamous Payola scandals of the past, at least the artist got something for their money. They got airplay. Today you won’t even get that. Typically you’ll pay a few dollars each to a dozen or more “curators” through a “service” that creates a hub for these submissions (and takes a cut). These curators will take your dollars and give you some plausible but opinionated brush-off as to why they’re not playlisting you. Others will claim they’re playlisting you and stroke your ego, and then put you on some graveyard Spotify (or similar) playlist with hundreds of other tracks. You’ll generate few streams, and certainly not enough to recoup the $3 or $5 or whatever you paid to be on it.

And, believe it or not, if you do get a sudden uptick in plays, those could be even worse for you since they have likely bought plays from some click-farm on the other side of the planet, giving you a false sense of your success, screwing up your ‘algorithms’ for developing a genuine following, and even – if some horror stories are true – getting your account banned for violating “terms and conditions” on reputable platforms that ban fake streams.

Honestly, no good can come of it.

It seems the only people who are making a financial success out of the new “music industry” are con artists who prey on increasingly desperate musicians looking for exposure.

Some claim to offer “feedback on your performance, lyrics, production, and so on. But what qualifies them to do this? Few are actually successful songwriters, musicians, or producers themselves, so their opinion is worthless and essentially not constructive.

Some may even believe their own guff, and they’re as delusional as the artists who waste money on this parasitic side-industry.

And yes, of course we’ve tried it. Hasn’t every independent artist trying to explore every avenue to find an audience? You try it because there is so much noise in the “music marketing” milieu, and you’re never sure what works and what doesn’t. We can’t tell you what will work, but we’re absolutely certain that this is not something that will do anything for you as an artist.

Now, having admitted we wasted our own money trying this approach, you must be thinking, “Well, what did you expect!?” However, it really is very hard for an artist to navigate this new and emerging way of doing business when even the mainstream arts and tech press – for example Bloomberg and Wired Magazine – is steering them in this direction and giving legitimacy to this type of marketing service. You go into it thinking you have “done the due diligence”, but some lessons are only learned through bitter experience.

But here’s the bottom line:

Genuine music critics and curators do not make their money off the musicians they review or present. They make their money from their subscribers who trust their opinions, and their advertisers who want to reach the audience they have cultivated. If you pay money to people who will charge you to review or present your music, you’re not paying for exposure, you’re buying vanity and you’re being sold a fantasy. And trust us, the feeling will be fleeting and your wallet will be fleeced. Ultimately both you and your art will be the poorer for the experience.

However, if a service comes along that has confidence in itself and a matching confidence in our music, and is willing to charge us for results, not promises, sign us up!

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