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Don’t Fall For This Songwriting Scam

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Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based musician, the founder and CEO of Ari’s Take and the author of How to Make It in the New Music Business.
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Oh, how the times have changed since the Myspace and PureVolume scams of “mail me a check and I’ll get you on the radio.”

Now the scammers are getting quite clever.

A recent scam going around Instagram proceeds as follows:

1. The scammer seeks out a singer/songwriter on Instagram

2. They compliment the artist (pull at those songwriter emotions!) 😡

“Wow I saw this video and I loved it! You write original songs right?”

Music Business Scam Songwriting

3. They say they’d like to hire the songwriter to write a song for their 5 year old son.

“Just a simple birthday song with his name lol.”

4. They go back and forth with the songwriter, talking through how they would like the song to be structured

5. The scammer says they will pay $500 ($300 up front then $200 when you send the song). Sounds reasonable. 🤔

Music Industry Scam Songwriters/Musicians

6. They ask what name they should make the check out to. 

And if the songwriter responds with “Venmo or PayPal only” the scammer will explain that they use a business account which doesn’t work with “3rd party apps” Um, PAYPAL AND VENMO WORK WITH BUSINESS ACCOUNTS – Duh!

7. But if the songwriter obliges with the check request, the scammer then hits them with the kicker:

“So there’s a little problem now. My assistant requested $3,000 instead of $300 from our manager and now he processed a check for that amount . (sic) It says we won’t be able to request another check from the account for another month! I’m trying to see what I can do. I’ll get back to you as soon as I figure it out.”

+How Do Producer and Songwriter Royalties Work

Music Industry Scam Musicians

8. They take a reasonable amount of time to try and work it out… and then:

“I just spoke with my manager now, So apparently it turns out there’s nothing we can do about it. We’ve discussed about it and have come to a resolve”

English is clearly not their first language. No offense to non-native English speakers, but this doesn’t sound like a “Chris Jones” or “Ashley Jones.” It sounds more like Vladamir ImmaHackYourElection Nostrovia to me.

Moving on:

+How To Get All Your Music Royalties

“I could send you the check for $3000 so I’ll just pay you in full now. You deposit it with your app and then you can send the balance to my manager through cashapp so he can put the money back in the account”

Wait what happened to not being able to use 3rd party apps?!

“I know you won’t screw me over because people’s music says a lot about them haha.”

THE AUDACITY?!

Music Business Scam Musicians

Ok, a lot to unpack here. Besides the fact that these fuckwads should be dragged into the next Bluebird songwriter round and publicly shamed via adjectives and rhymes, they have the gall to go after songwriters – who get shit on the most from the industry and somehow, still, in 2021, make around 1/5 of what artists (labels) do from streaming royalties.

+The MLC is Sitting on $423 Million. How Songwriters Can Claim It 

Well, fortunately (or unfortunately) most songwriters don’t have that amount of disposable cash on hand to willy nilly send $2,700 to some rando “Jones” and their son “Solly” (??!) and dog “Maxxy” (Pad?) on Instagram.

On one hand, scammers clearly know how to pull at artists’ emotions, but on the other hand, has anyone told them that artists notoriously AIN’T RICH mothafucka.

But this has been going on for at least a couple months to my count and it must be working on SOME otherwise they would have changed tactics by now.

+Songtrust vs. Sentric vs. CD Baby Pro Publishing vs. Tunecore Publishing 

Maybe next time go after hedge fund managers with this type of scam. I’m sure they have a few Bitcoin lying around they could invest via Robinhood for you. (“I accidentally sent 2 Bitcoin instead of .02! Oh you don’t see it – Robinhood has halted my transaction because, GameStop.”) That’s more convincing. At least they’d be redistributing a bit of wealth here – via Robinhood no less! Ayyyyy.

These types of people infuriate me. Preying on artists like this is reserved for the lowest of scum.

+Session Musicians Money Stolen By The Union Meant to Protect Them

So, to all the artists out there, keep your guards up. Your next paycheck ain’t coming from “Chris Jones” or “Ashley Jones” (or “Charlie Cooper”) via an Instagram DM for their dog Maxxy Pad.

If you want a more legitimate marketplace that keeps everything kosher, check out SoundBetter or Fiverr to get some quick writing or performance gigs.

Have you experienced a scam like this? Let me know in the comments and let’s protect our fellow artists!

About The Author

Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based musician, the founder and CEO of Ari’s Take and the author of How to Make It in the New Music Business.

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