Written by Kyle Kraft of Krafty Entertainment
Krafty Entertainment is a music business development coaching company dedicated to providing guidance to musicians (and their teams) on how best to nurture supporters and profit from doing so. Krafty Entertainment’s founder Kyle Kraft has over 20 years experience in assisting both developing and established artists in substantially growing their net income from their music. Interested in working with us? Let’s talk!
Unfortunately countless people in the music industry get taken advantage of by people promising to provide services they don't deliver on. I've heard of it happening a lot to people who I have mutual acquaintances with, so I thought I would write this in an effort to try and help other people avoid falling victim to the same kind of situations. A sad reality of the music business is that there are a lot of shady people who are looking to make money by getting paid to provide services or results they don't deliver on as promised. Everything I'm about to suggest to try to help minimize the chances of that happening will probably seem like common sense, but people are continually allowing themselves to be scammed by not practicing these ideas. Here are some ways to minimize the likelihood of getting scammed:
1. Do your research. Ask people you are considering working with for references for multiple past clients of their (ideally for people whom have had the same services performed for them) and actually contact those past clients to confirm their happiness with the services provided. Spending a little time to email a few people could save you a lot of time and money you could lose working with the wrong person, or also potentially from paying for something at all at the wrong time. Check references with previous clients, other industry people in the same city they live in, local and regional industry associations, etc. Ask previous clients not only about their own experiences with the people you are considering working with, but also if they have heard of anyone else having negative experiences working with them and if so try to communicate with those people as well. While single instances of unhappiness or a lack of responses from some previous clients may not necessarily mean you shouldn't work with someone, they should result in you doing additional research to insure you don't hear more of the same. If you do hear recurring negative stories about someone from people who have worked with them before, that is a pretty definitive sign that you should avoid working with that person. If someone has no real track record of tangible success, that should also be an indication that you should go with an alternative option. Don't be fooled by smooth talkers who can't prove that they have numerous instances of success to back up their claims that they can make things happen for you.
2. Compare multiple options. There is always more than one option for you to choose from, and if you aren't aware of of multiple choices you simply haven't done enough research online, via your network of industry relationships, and via the other resources available to you. Good service providers will tell you who their competition is if you ask, and why they are better suited to assist you than their competition (or perhaps even suggest that your competition might be a better fit for you). Be sure to compare not only references and prices for the same services, but also your impression of your interactions with each person, the free and/ or low cost content they've created such as blogs, workshops, and so on. Even if you've found someone to work with who seems legitimate, you should still research further as you may be able to find a better option. Also, it's a wise policy to always have some alternative options researched in case a relationship doesn't work out or in case that person's availability changes unexpectedly.
3. Get offers and agreements in writing. By insuring that you get things in writing you are allowing yourself the opportunity to be able can refer to what was proposed to you (and agreed upon) as opposed to relying on a memory of verbal communication which leaves you open to future debate. If a deal is particularly large or you are making payments in the thousands of dollars, you may also want to consider requesting at least a simple contract is signed by all parties outlining everything that has been agreed to. Hiring a lawyer to draft or review a contract may be ideal if it makes financial sense, but is not a necessity especially for smaller agreements. A signed contract in plain English created by a non-lawyers is just as legally binding as one that is, though it may be missing important points that an experienced professional may advise you to include.
4. Ask questions. Get as thorough an understanding of what is being offered to you as is possible, as well as about the anticipated results. Ask what proof they can provide that they can help you, and ask who their competition is and how they can help you more than that competition. Ask what could get in the way of the anticipated results from occurring, and question all aspects of anything being guaranteed to you. If you are paying for something that involves other people, make sure you are in direct communication with those people or people you're sure represent them as well and that at the very least that the person you are considering hiring has been given their permission to speak on their behalf.
5. Get input from more experienced people about what you're being offered, and about the people who you're considering working with. Whether you are fortunate enough to have a friend with relevant experience in the industry, are already working with someone in the industry who you know you can trust, or hire someone you are confident in specifically to advise you, getting an objective, impartial, and knowledgeable outside perspective about potential relationships is wise idea.
6. Ask to spread payment out. If you are being asked to pay in full upfront for services (which a lot of legitimate professionals do require, as many have been burned too many times to wait for payment after work is finished) that are for large enough amounts, see if you can pay part up front and the rest at an agreed upon point part way through the work. This is something that really makes sense to suggest when thousands of dollars are changing hands and/ or work is being done over the course of multiple months. That way if you aren't satisfied with how things are going you can always pull the plug and only be out part of the money you would be if you had paid in full up front.
If these ideas were all being used regularly there would be far fewer people getting taken advantage of, and a lot more progress being made. I hope that this helps you avoid getting scammed as you make your way through this treacherous industry!
This information was compiled by Kyle Kraft of Krafty Entertainment. Whether you are an artist who is in the early stages of building your career and have next to no money to invest into it looking for the best paths to generating income, are an artist that has established a following and are interested in getting assistance with securing tens of thousands of dollars in funding to further your career, or are an artist or collective with an extensive fan base that would like assistance with increasing the efficiency of your business development, we can help you.
Want to read more articles written by Kyle? You can do so here.
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