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It's pretty amazing these days how many internet based music marketing emails I get. I guess running a site like NMP makes me a little more of a target but I am really concerned with how many people, even professional types, may be falling for these often half witted and mostly unethical companies who promise to get your songs heard by top industry professionals, get your music sold to millions of anticipating internet music buyers and so on.

So my question to the community is this: How do YOU spot a scam. What criteria do you use to judge and what are the tail-tell signs that something is just too good to be true.

Without naming names, I will share some of my own observations based on interactions with some of them.

1. They speak in vague terms. Often using general statements and are slow to give specific details.

2. Their language is filled with promises.

3. They can't give verifiable references regarding their claims or regarding statements about their qualifications/experience.

That's just the tip of the ice berg for me. Anyone have any other good things to look out for in this new age of Internet based music business?

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What Internet based music business?

Folks with stars in their eyes always want to believe spending money can be a shortcut to success and there has always been plenty of folks around with their hands out to take their money.
I have received several solicitations too, not only via myspace and e-mail, but I've also received letters in the mail. My general rule of thumb is to never pay for a service like that up front. If a company truly believes in what we we are doing and wants to be a part of our team, then they should be willing to work for a percentage. That also gives them a little incentive to work hard. It also helps that I wouldn't be able to afford paying anyone upfront in the first place.
They usually misspell words... :)
.. and come from someone named General Ahmed Makosana...
I recently got a bunch of email spam along the lines of "We think your song has what it takes to make thousands of dollars!!" after I registered a song for copyright. I guess the scammers are using info from the government website to find new victims...
If they tell me how great my music is before they hear it...that usually tips me off.
I knew someone who invented an entire backstory for himself in the industry for the purpose (I think) of duping young, naive bands into forking over thousands to get him to produce their project. He invented a Berklee degree, a Belmont degree, a pedigree of top studio engineering jobs, Grammy wins (and, then, after he was called out on it, nominations, and after he was called out on that, "award winning"), and had tons of gold and platinum albums with his name on them (how he got those while he was living in an apartment playing in a bar band with me I have no idea).

He got a shot to produce an album for an up and coming artist on a major's boutique label and it all fell apart. ANYONE who had a solicitation from him could have found out he was a scammer with the slightest bit of due diligence through Google. It amazed me that it took years for that to happen. Luckily for the public, this business is based on reputation and word of mouth and he will likely never work here again. Some of you may remember who I'm talking about although I'd rather not name names.
David,

Thanks for sharing. Your post brings up an ever present problem of people over-stating or just outright lying about their qualifications. I guess the best advice we could offer anyone is for the buyer to always beware and do your research before forking out any money.

I have never understood why anyone would believe they can fool all the people, all the time.
My favorite is when prospective clients ask me "who have you worked with that I would know?" or "who's someone 'big' you've worked with?" I certainly understand the reasoning behind those questions, but, first and foremost, I maintain confidentiality with any client who expressly asks me to keep their work with me private, so I don't name-drop. Secondly, what difference would I make if I had worked with "someone big" if the job I did for them was not a good one? Which is more important in making a decision to work with me (or a photographer, producer, etc.): the client's name, or the result I achieved for that client? My client's reputation, or my work's reputation?
Any email message is suspect if it has a lot of different font styles and formats, lots of exclamation points, words written in all caps, words written in red, and misspelled words. Those are all red flags!
Woould uew like dat in $30 biles?
When you figure out how to weed through all the scams out there throw the answer my way would ya? I have around 14,000 friends on MySpace & i bet 10% of those are scammer's (I know that isn't really a word). Thanks to NMP i have a place to go read discussions about the good, the bad & the ugly in the music biz. Which helps keep my guard up! Thanks Bret! You ROCK!

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