Beware of Pay 4 Play! (If They Make You Pay, They Don’t Believe in You!)
When I was just a young hip-hop artist starting out. I remember the time when I saw signs everywhere. All over the hood were signs about a listening session with Def Jam.
The people that were throwing the event (the promoters) were saying, ” they wanted me to be a part of it, because they knew how dope I was in the hood; and they wanted to make sure that I got my shot to be heard by Def Jam. This was a great opportunity for me, being from San Antonio Texas. There’s not a lot of times when you can actually have your music heard by the tastemakers of the music industry. I didn’t want to pass up on this opportunity. They told me, that they would charge any other artists $50 per person, and $100 per group to go and play their music. I think they gave you like 25 seconds. They offered me admission for $25, so I was like,” oh it’s a no-brainer” you know! I’ll pay the $25 to get heard by Def Jam. The prize was signing a $50,000 contract with Def Jam on the spot. As you can imagine people were very excited about that. I showed up to the venue the day of, and when I tell you everybody in San Antonio was there; every person I knew that was a rapper, singer, or dancer. It didn’t matter what they did, every person I knew was there. Looking around at the scene had me in ahh! There was probably 500 people there, and they all spent about anywhere from 25 to $100 to be a part of this event. There was a huge line, and everybody’s waiting, you know, to get their chance to go in; and play their music for these Def Jam Representatives. Finally, I get inside and I look on the stage. It’s like some dudes with a Def Jam shirt and shades. Something about it didn’t seem right, so I began to look closer at each person. With a closer look, I observed that they were wearing beat up shoes. I thought to myself, ” they shoes are dusty”! These dudes ain’t from Def Jam. Angry and upset, I go to the dude I knew, and I’m like ” These dudes ain’t from Def Jam, they shoes busted! They got less money than me!” In an attempt to keep me quite, he gave me my money back, and I walked out of there yelling “Its a scam, Its a scam!” Hopefully that turned some artist away, but I can’t help but think about all the other 400 to 500 artist that were there, that paid for that BS. These blood-sucking, scam artist made all this money off young aspiring dreamers that didn’t know better is the reason this industry is a shithole! (Excuse my French) I took that experience, and I learned a hard lesson. Nobody is in this game for you! I decided I was never going to pay to perform, or pay to present my music to anybody! If somebody is genuinely interested in you and your music, you ain’t going to have to pay for them to hear it! Now pay for play no longer existed in my vocabulary.
Since then, I’ve seen hundreds of artists pay to perform, and open up for a better-known Artist. Often they do not get to perform, nor do they receive a refund. I’ve also seen artist be asked to sell tickets, and not get compensated from selling the tickets for their performance. My advice to artist is that, “Whatever you do, you need to get paid! Maybe you’re not big enough to get paid out right, but if you’re selling tickets, then you need a percentage of those tickets sells!” If you’re going to pay to perform, you need to be on the flyer, you need to have your own tickets to sell, you need to have your own contracts, stating what’s going to happen during the performance, what happens after the performance, and you need to be able to sell merchandise! You have to have some kind of way to make money, because you are the product!
A Leverage artist will never get dupped or fooled by promoters, tastemakers, venues, or any of those people who want to scam you out of your money. We will provide our artist with their own contracts, agreements, and any other documents they need to protect themselves. Along with our 20 years of music industry experience, we will provide, the legal service, advice, and everything that you need to make sure that you’re not getting scammed, by people who prey on the naive talents of the world! Please sign up now! Let Leverage help you get protected, and take the next step in your career.
– James Pharoah Brown