A TRUE STORY OF INDUSTRY ABUSE
Allen L. Johnston – The Music Specialist
This story was written because I received a phone call from a distressed parent, attempting to make their child’s entertainment dreams a reality. They had gone to an industry related association meeting and heard how wonderful members of this group treated new artists and their projects. This parent believed the stories of success and made sure to get the contact information from the people they thought could assist them. Several days later this same parent called one of their new contacts and asked them what they should do to help move their child to the next level of positive achievement. They were immediately told to send money and the project and everything would be wonderful. Of course they did as requested and waited to hear back from their new contact. Within a week the contact had told them that the project was playing on several radio stations and was being recorded by Broadcast Data Service (BDS), please send more money so that your project can be reviewed in a national trade magazine and more airplay can be sustained. The parent once again believed their new contact and sent an additional round of financing to ensure success for their child.
Within 2 more weeks the parent received a phone call from an entirely new contact living in another market. This second contact had been in touch with the first contact and had a significant plan of action for the parents’ project within their market. All they needed was for the parent to send money plus the project and everything would be wonderful. The parent told them that they did not have the amount requested but would send half now and within a week visit this new market and deliver the other half. The contact said to send half now, but the price would have to double for the second half because they didn’t work like that. FINALLY the parent started to get suspicious, thought that this was a game just to get money and called me for clarity.
My response was probably NOT what the parent wanted to hear.
I told them that because they were lazy, greedy, and ignorant and wanted something given to them on a platter they were a perfect target for this type of scam. Their laziness was seen in not checking out the markets were they wanted airplay before they sent money, not checking the markets during the supposed airplay and not trying to promote these markets at all. They did not even have the call letters for the radio stations where they were supposedly getting airplay. And of course they had NO CD’s for sale anywhere.
Their ignorance was on quite a few different levels. They had no knowledge of BDS so did not realize that they would have had to place a digital fingerprint within their song and register with BDS before anyone could record any spins. They believed that their song was going to be reviewed within a national trade magazine yet they had not written a bio, taken any promotional photos, designed an album cover or even heard of the magazine prior to sending money to a person they had only met once. Finally they had done no homework on the industry related association whose meetings caused them to acquire the aforementioned contacts. They were destined for failure from the beginning.
The above story is true, only the names of the culprits have been removed.
There is a way to change this perceived behavior well in advance of getting caught in a financial and business mess.
HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY – Normally people don’t think that being honest rates high within the entertainment industry, however based on how small this industry is and the ability to communicate at light speed, telling someone a lie can backfire on you very quickly. Now that these industry related association contacts have fooled this parent, their names are being mentioned over many different telephone and Internet networks. The industry related association has not been functional within the industry for at least 10 years, but continues to get new “wannabe” artists, label owners and “over the hill artists” into its meetings. Their credibility is suspect at the very least.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER – My father once told me that if you own a restaurant you need to know how to greet people at the front door, take the garbage out of the back door and everything in between. The same analogy works within the entertainment industry. If you know what is suppose to happen then you can’t get scammed when it doesn’t happen.
RETURN PHONE CALLS – The ability to communicate over the phone has been taken for granted and current industry relations are being held over the impersonal Internet. It is great to send an MP3 file, a photo or bio over the Internet, but the ability to call a person and tell them that the file is waiting for them is invaluable. Phone calls may only take a few moments, but can create a lifetime worth of good will.
NETWORKING WORKS – Get out, meet people, stay in touch with them and make friends. Remember that friends do business together, strangers don’t.
SHAKE HANDS – The very best way to conduct business is to physically meet your client and “press the flesh”. The entertainment industry was built upon artists and managers going from one venue to another making fans and personally visiting stores. The idea of not visiting your public and making a lasting impression is the very idea that can kill your business.
Somewhere down the line my generation dropped the ball in relating our history and education to the parents of the current youth generation. Some how the ideas of truth, justice, family, respect and honesty have been misplaced within the current popular culture. Each one of us must take a stand, tell the truth and save our youths dreams.