Ah, the music industry. Home to both the coolest and most shady players on the planet. The music industry can be an incredible, exuberant triumph of the human spirit. It can also be a dark, shifty place where scammers take advantage of small fish eager to make a break. Here’s a rundown of music industry scams to avoid as your continue your DJing career.

Email scam

You get an email from someone in ‘the music industry’. It says that you’ve been found or chosen based on your work. Yeah! You should immediately get in touch to discuss further. Hmmm. Firstly, as an artist, you ARE the music industry. Someone claiming to be ‘from’ the music industry is already a little suspicious. The music industry isn’t some centralized establishment anymore. There is no mountain top to which everyone is unanimously climbing. It’s a whirling galaxy of accountants, management figures, unglamorous office workers and the very occasional artist. Secondly, deals that sound very general usually mean that the sender hasn’t wasted any time tailoring it to you. How good can it be? Aside from listing one or two of your tracks or mixes, there’s nothing special or specific about it. It’s a scam. Don’t even send a reply email. If they’re serious, they’ll find out something about you and get back to you with more detailed information.

Inflated play counts

All scams rely on the desperation of the victim. In music, it’s the desperation for recognition. You so badly want people to know how awesome your latest mix is that you’re willing to ignore the red flags. It’s common to inflate stream counts using bots and generate fake engagement using click farms. Even major players like Spotify certainly have some things to answer for with regards to stream counts. The reality check? You will not succeed overnight by buying fake engagement. You will have to do the work that others don’t seem to be doing. You will have to do something 100 times before you get noticed. Whether that’s releasing 100 mixes, producing 100 tracks or doing 100 shows, people generally start to notice what you’re doing when it’s clear that you’re not going away. Replace your desperation for recognition with work hours and you’ll dodge this one by a mile.

Large audiences, celebrities, A&R reps

We all want to believe shortcuts are an option. So DJs fall for it when we get approached to perform in front of celebrity judges, large audiences and A&R reps for a small fee. The small fee might open doors, but the overall effect is that you’re building a house on shifting sands. Auctioning your career and fanbase to the highest bidder is no way to build a lasting audience that follows you for what you do. Chasing fame and approval has killed more than one DJ. The careers that last are built on solid interaction with real people (not insta numbers). Stay away from mindless, fake entertainment shows that promise to boost your career. There are enough imitation artists out there. Surround yourself with a smaller number of real fans and you won’t be as susceptible to the pitfalls of hype.

Basically, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The less they they know about you, the more likely they want something from you. Your email list, your music files, your money. Be wary when someone finds you online without first demonstrating that they know something about you. Make sure your DJing career doesn’t get derailed by unscrupulous operators. Take a look at a few DJ programs you can sign up for today to keep things on track!

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ.