After years of helping indie musicians, we’ve seen and heard how when they’re getting started in their music career they’re being ripped off by different people- from managers to event organizers to publishers and all other sorts of sleazy creatures. It shouldn’t take years to sharpen our senses when it comes to detecting leeches. All you need to do is research (don’t decide quickly!), get a good lawyer, adviser, and look for tell-tale signs. Here are some of the types of people that might be detrimental to your career and bank account:
THE GUY WHO PROMISES TO MAKE YOU FAMOUS… IN AN INSTANT!
If someone gives you an offer you can’t resist, if his offer sounds too good to be true, then it probably is that: too good to be true. You can spot this right away: loud voice, cocky smile, HUGE plans. They make success sound like you can order it in a restaurant. They convince you that if you deal with them, then you’re life is gonna change, baby. You’re going to be the next Madonna/Aerosmith/Beatles. All you have to do is let them take the driver’s seat. Be cautious. Don’t be hypnotized by these deceivers. There’s exception to the rule, of course, but remember the saying about empty vessels making the most sound?
THE AGENT WHO PRESSURES YOU
The man who’s got good things going on is not impatient of your answer. If he’s pressuring you, maybe he’s scared you’d do a little research and find out he’s really a sleazy bad. He’s scared you’ll change your mind. He’s scared you’ll come to your senses. He’s scared you’ll find someone else much better. A good agent should give you time to think unless there’s a very important reason for the urgency.
These sleaze bags would do anything to convince you to play for FREE. Avoid them like the plague. They’re pretty aggressive and convincing so if you’re the kind type or you’re desperate to get a gig, you’re most likely to say yes. They will earn from the event or else they wouldn’t be organizing it! So don’t fall into that “we have no budget” crap. These are not limited to organizers, there are filmmakers, TV producers, and a lot of different cheapskates who would ask you to perform for little to no compensation. There are times that playing for free is a good thing for your career, though (playing for charity/cause, for a really good film, etc) but if FREE will not get you even an inch higher to your career goal, what’s the point?
THE COMPULSIVE GOSSIP
It’s fun to be around people who gossip because you get the latest scoop and most of the time they’re fun to be with. But the bad things outweigh the good: 1. They will gossip about you and many people will find them credible; 2. You will start to become a gossip yourself. Hang out with a gossip for an hour and you’ll start to become like them. It’s a fact; 3. People who knew better will start to avoid you because they know you’re close friends with a gossip. They’re fun but don’t get too close.
Now there are exceptions to the rule. The cocky bragster may actually be really reliable and true to his word. The agent who pressures you may be pressuring you for your benefit. That’s why you shouldn’t be too untrusting and cautious, too (or at least don’t show it). This could be a HUGE turn off to well-meaning “sleazebags” who can potentially launch your career to new heights. Be cautious but don’t show it. Good luck!
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