Relax, I'm not trying to be the destroyer of all dreams.
For new artists fresh out of the garage, there is one important thing to be wary of - scams! All to often an eager band will jump at any opportunity to get their music heard. And while any press is good press - don't do it! At least not always.
Scam artists in the music industry are a dime a dozen. And while most artists do know this, there are several innocent bands that have no idea they are about to be taken advantage of.
A couple you things should watch out for:
- Anyone that approaches your band offering to 'represent' you at a music conference such as Midem, SXSW, or any other for a small price of a couple hundred dollars - don't expect anything out of this deal. You are merely paying for them to go have a good time. They might pass your album out, but that's the extent of it. If you are lucky, you might get a few business cards for you to 'follow up' with. Eager artists are the biggest victim of this - I know of plenty that would hand me the cash to 'represent' them at CMW or SXSW. Would I ever do that? Nope. There are legit folks out there that do this and do it well - but for the most part, if someone contacts YOU to ask if you want representation, it's a pretty good indication that they are short of cash on their flight.
- Radio promotions - anyone that approaches you and tells you that your music is great and that they can get it played on several stations is probably not legit. There are several of these people that seek out independant bands. Truly professional radio trackers do not have the time to approach small bands. The radio world is dominated by only a handful of tracking companies with a lot of clout and high success rates. Very rarely do they have the time to even accept music to promo or room to take on new artists. If some random from contacts your band, it's likely a sign that they have plenty of time on their hands and are out to make some money. Usually it's the artists seeking out the attention of the promotions company, not the other way around.
If you do think that someone is legit, and there is a chance they could be - check out their website. Seek out information about them. The world wide web is home to information galore - if you can't find anything about them, avoid them! Very powerful and established industry professionals usually keep their information to a minimal and hidden very well, to avoid artists contacting them in the masses. Scammers do not have information displayed simply because they do not have any credentials.
Secondly, always ask for references. Check with the references, find out if their experience was good or bad. Find out their success rate and accomplishments. If they don't have any good information to give you upfront, or if they beat around the bush - again, avoid them.
While it is important to take on opportunities, do it wisely! I see way too many bands throwing money away in hopes that it's going to put them on the big stage. It doesn't happen that way. Success comes from networking, creative marketing, knowledge, and taking the right opportunities when they present themselves.
It's not always easy - but it is possible!