How Can I Avoid Scams When Doing Musical Collaborations?

Whether we like it or not, the music industry is rife with scams and people looking to separate you from your money. To avoid scams during an audio collaboration you should be cautious, conduct thorough research, and exercise good judgment. These tips are a good place to start…

Before entering into a collaboration, verify the identity and credibility of the individuals or entities you’re considering working with. Research their background, reputation, and previous collaborations. Look for online presence, such as a website, social media profiles, or a track record of legitimate projects. Genuine collaborators often have a visible online presence that can be cross-referenced, validated and has been active for more than two weeks.

Maintain clear and open communication with your potential collaborators. Ask questions, seek clarifications, and discuss expectations upfront. Be wary of collaborators who are vague or evasive in their communication, as this can be a red flag for potential scams. Be careful when using messaging apps outside of Tonic Audio, and NEVER reveal personal or financial information.

Be careful when it comes to credits and “points,” a percentage of royalties. When collaborating, discuss and establish clear agreements regarding ownership and rights to the music created. This includes songwriting credits, publishing rights, and revenue sharing if applicable. Consider using formal contracts or agreements to protect your interests and ensure that all parties are aware of their rights and obligations. There are example and boilerplate contracts freely available on the internet.

Be cautious if someone asks you to pay a significant sum of money upfront to participate in a collaboration. Legitimate collaborations are typically based on mutual artistic interests and should not require large financial investments from one party without proper justification. Pay-to-play is as old as time, and now that music-making has moved online, pay-to-play has too. Also, be wary of “exposure” gigs—they rarely pay off.

Trust your instincts and intuition. If something feels too good to be true or raises suspicions, it’s better to err on the side of caution. If you have doubts or concerns about a collaboration opportunity, consider seeking advice from experienced musicians, industry professionals, or legal experts who can provide guidance and help you make informed decisions.

If financial transactions are involved, such as paying for production services or hiring collaborators, use secure and reputable payment platforms that offer buyer protection. Ensure that you have a clear agreement in writing, including payment terms and deliverables, to protect both parties.

Reach out to your trusted network of musicians, industry professionals, or music communities for recommendations and referrals. They can help you identify trustworthy collaborators or warn you about potential scams based on their own experiences. The musician economy is one that runs on reputation, so don’t be afraid to understand and leverage that when you’re seeking collaborations.

Remember that scams can be prevalent in any industry, but are especially common in music. Stay vigilant, conduct due diligence, and engage in open and transparent communication; those  can go a long way in avoiding scams and protecting yourself during a collaboration.