It’s not a “scam” just because a business charges money for their service and it’s not a scam just because you can’t afford something

January 26, 2012

I’d like to address perhaps my BIGGEST pet peeve in the whole world.

A lot of artists out there like to cry and whine and call anything a “scam” just because a company charges money for a service. A service many artists either 1) can’t afford or 2) don’t feel they should have to pay for.

That is so 5th grade.

Instead of trying to email me and figure out a way I can help you or we can work together, I get emails saying “you’re a scam” — as if calling me a name will somehow make it ok in an artist’s mind that an artist can’t afford to work with me.

I don’t understand where this comes from except maybe jealousy. “I can’t afford your service, so if I call it a ‘scam’ I will make myself feel better that I don’t have the money for it.”

After all, the definition of a business is: 1) a person, partnership, or corporation engaged in commerce, manufacturing, or a service; profit-seeking enterprise or concern.

Now maybe you don’t think money should be part of the music business.


It’s called the music BUSINESS not the music “hobby” folks.


Now, a scam, on the other hand, is defined by dictionary.com as 1) a confidence game or other fraudulent scheme, especially for making a quick profit; swindle.

Fraud is defined by dictionary.com as 1) deceit, trickery, sharp practice, or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage.

I take personal offense to anyone who calls my business a scam.

One artist recently wrote me and said “Wow, if 99% of songs don’t get licensed, then you’re a scam.” As if I control the marketplace. Yes, you’re an artist and you’re in the MOST competitive business in the WORLD after maybe acting. If you don’t like the odds, then do something else. Go to law school or get an MBA or become a doctor or surgeon. If I were a scam, I would LIE and say, “Your music is great and you have a 99% chance of it getting licensed” but instead I am honest and tell it like it is. Don’t shoot the messenger.

Or, “How dare you charge us poor artists.” Well, geez. It’s not like I’m selling water for $1000 in the desert here. If you’re poor, get a job. Making and marketing and promoting your music (and touring) costs money. No one is going to give you money in the beginning of our career to pay for those costs so either 1) you do it yourself or 2) it doesn’t get done. Anyone that runs a business in say, licensing or management that does it for free or 100% on commission either 1) has clients making millions, so they can afford to work on commission only or 2) is really stupid/eager to work in this business so they work for peanuts because they want to “break in” to the business 3) has a HUGE trust fund and is doing this for fun but not as a real business. Go find one of those people to represent if you don’t like what I do.

Do I run a business to make money? Of course. Your precious Apple iPhone and laptop and musical gear all was made by a company that sold it to you and made a profit in doing so. Every time you step into a restaurant or Starbucks or any store, they are making a profit. Is that bad? How dare they mark up food so much. Well, if you don’t like it, don’t eat out.


I have never ripped off anyone in my life and I never intend to.

One of the things I am most proud of in life is my honesty. In fact, if you know anyone in this business, ask them about me and I’m sure they will tell you what an honest and ethical person I am. Ask any of my past clients.

It is offensive when an artist reads my emails and thinks, “She charges money for her services. What a scam.” Or “I don’t like how much she charges or the percentage she takes. Therefore, she is a scam.”

I have no idea why the word “scam” always comes up but it does.

It’s a cheap shot and a low blow. Don’t use it.

If you don’t like what I do for a living, or if you aren’t interested in my emails or services, that’s fine. Simply email back with “unsubscribe please” and I’ll GLADLY take you off my email list.

I devote HOURS and HOURS and HOURS to writing and sending out these emails to you FOR FREE to EDUCATE and HELP artists (and ironically, to protect artists from getting “scammed”). 

I don’t know ANYONE else in the business who does that, do you? 

Other companies may offer their services to you at cut rate prices. Good for them. They are McDonald’s. I am that cool neighborhood restaurant with organic ingredients that sure, you may pay a bit more for but the quality and service and food is a lot better. I am not McDonald’s, offering crappy food for $.99. You get what you pay for in life. If it’s working for you, good. Go with them. Then you shouldn’t care if I charge $1 or $100,000 for my services because they don’t interest you, right?

My business model is not the same as the business model of say, a music library that deals in VOLUME. I am small. I am boutique. I may only pitch a few songs for an opportunity for a major ad, film or TV show. People come to me in this business because they like me and respect me and I don’t bombard them with 10 or 20 or 100 crappy songs but only a few good ones. Libraries pitch dozens of mediocre tracks and quite frankly, the quality of most music in music libraries is not good.

I have 10+ years of experience in pitching music for film/tv. I get paid for what I do because I’m that good.

Anyhow don’t ever email me and call what I do a “scam.”

That would be like me calling you a “talentless hack” just because you’ve never been signed to a major label or publisher before or haven’t licensed your songs or made millions of dollars yet. I would never say that to anyone, no matter how bad their music was because I know 1) artists are sensitive 2) music, singing, songwriting, production can ALWAYS be improved upon. So, while I may think some things to myself, I would never say someone is a “talentless hack” and “hopeless” and I would appreciate if you never use the word “scam” and my name ever again.


(Please feel free to forward this email and this email alone to members of your band or other artists you know. But please do not post it on a web site or blog without asking permission. Thanks!)

Copyright @2012 True Talent Management. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without author’s prior consent.

Jennifer Yeko
True Talent Management ~ True Talent PR

9663 Santa Monica Blvd. # 320

Beverly Hills, CA 90210

http://www.truetalentmgmt.wordpress.com – Read my music blog for advice on making it in the music business



  1. Thanks Jen for such a concise, well written and very understandable email. I know how very much work you put into your job, which is often thankless from the songwriters who receive and benefit from your incredibly helpful emails. I, for one, GREATLY appreciate all you do and love working with you!!-
    -Van Preston, Singer-Songwriter

  2. I never thought you were a scam…I’ve paid to submit music to you for probably over a year or more…I can’t remember exactly how long, and then I stopped for a bit…my experience in the film/tv world has been mostly positive. My publishing company that places my solo music regularly on tv shows got me HUGE exposure on Smallville at the end of 2010 (my song actually broke the iTunes top 100 charts in Norway and was up against Green Day and Silversun Pickups…shockingly). So, I’m extremely grateful to them. The only thing I’m not happy with is the fact that they take 100% of the publishing. They pay me $2000 for 10 songs, and then I don’t own them anymore and they can pretty much do whatever they like with them. I know there’s the upfront fee a TV show pays a publisher just to USE the song, right? I don’t see any of that money. I just see the $2000 they pay me up front, and the royalties for my writers share that come in later. I’ve been told that my publisher is a ‘thief’ but I really don’t see it that way. I did get amazing exposure, and it was my own fault for not following up with the flood of fans that started searching for me on the internet. It was a crazy huge opportunity and I wasn’t prepared for it…

    Now, in my current band, he asked to hear the album we just released, and he feels it’s even more marketable than my previous music. He spent a good hour on the phone trying to convince us to sell him our music, but something scares me about giving away our publishing…especially now that I’ve made the decision to leave my full time job behind later this year – I want to be smart about each decision we make. I’m not even sure if it’s a bad thing giving away your publishing to someone else and he even asked “why I’m so afraid of giving away my publishing?” and I can’t really answer that question. He even offered to have his new assistant act as sort of a manager to help us in our touring endeavors to turn our band into a business – apparently he now has a new string of connections with MTV that specifically geared toward exposing up and coming indie bands who are playing out.

    See, by him paying us up front for our music, I know he’s working hard to promote it and get it out there because he has to make his money back – and it also means he truly believed in the music in the first place because there’s no way someone drops $2,000 for nothing…but I wish a non-exclusive deal existed that was exactly the same (I know that’s probably sounds insane and it only works with big artists). But if it’s non-exclusive, I’m guessing a publisher doesn’t necessarily have to work as hard to promote it right?

    So, I have thought about paying for your services again; do you by any chance do any kind of promotion for film/tv that isn’t management, but where you focus specifically on certain artists – trying to promote them to your connections? Just random thoughts here. Sorry for such a long email.

    • Hi Jen,

      I am really glad you are addressing this. I like how you are blunt and put the truth out there. If you were a scam.. you would tell the artists only what they want to hear and make promises you can’t keep. The ones who say you are a scam.. are DEAD BROKE. They are straving artists that are fustrated and take out there fustrations on any companies or business, that want to charge them for a service, because money is a issue. I know this because I was one of these artists. I thought any one that charged was a scam. Until years later I realised…. music business is tough and is the same like investing in yourself like going to University. I am now finally getting some exposure and getting my name out there. It was not for free $$. Everyone has to make a living, take or leave it. These people who complain, will learn the hard way. Keep doing your thing and don’t let these negative ppl try to put you down. As they can’t get the success you have showen, they will hate on you. They should work for it like you and do the same!



  3. Awesome, as always.

    The jealousy thing hits us, too. Other bands question our motives as musicians because we get paid. So ludicrous.

    My favorite saying – “let’s pretend we are in businesses to make money.”

    Thank you SO much for what you do!

    Jeffry-Wynne Prince via “The Kimberly Trip”

  4. Let me chime in here. We are music industry service providers. We are paid for our contacts, resources and reputations. We cannot function waiting for the big pay day at the end of the project. We are different in this respect from the artists themselves.

    As a former artist, I would put everything I had into my career. Never did I expect a return from, say, recording a single or writing a song. I expected that, one day, I would “make it to the top” and would be handsomely reimbursed for my slave-like devotion to my craft when everyone in the world bought a copy of my latest release.

    There were good reasons to think happy thoughts. The art itself would not exist at all had I not been the one creating it. Therefore, I owned my own songs and publishing. I owned the masters of my recordings. I controlled my own copyrights of each and every song. The money from any sales of product went directly into my pocket.

    As a service provider, I do not own any of those revenue generating pieces of the puzzle. I haven’t written any of the songs on my clients’ releases. I was not there in the recording studio with them. Neither my keyboard nor vocal skills appear on their release.

    There is no incentive for me to work as hard as I would for myself with the hope that someone is going to “take me with them to the top.”

    Even if they do make it big, incentives still do not exist. In the years I’ve been doing this – about 20 at last count – I’ve had two clients make it to the next rung by earning bigger recording deals. Whatever contract I had with them became null and void when they signed with the larger entity. Of course I could have fought this in court, but does one really expect a one-man operation to be able to afford the kind of lawyer who could win against a multi-national conglomerate? And would the multi-national keep on a hard-working independent when they already have people in house who are paid to provide the company’s artists with exactly the same service?

    The only way for people like us to survive is to charge up front. Given this, I need to also point out that the artist is paying for our time, our efforts and our contacts. We are charging because we know the game and because we have the histories to prove that we can deliver. We don’t win all the time, of course, because there are as many variables in the music business as there are in any small business. We do win more times than the artist who sits at home waiting for their “big break.” Last I heard, there are few A&R people knocking on doors looking for the Next Big Thing.

    Making it in music is a game. By hiring independents, artists are upping their chances at succeeding, essentially by bringing on those of us who know the rule book many times better than they do. That’s what the artist gets for his or her money. That’s a service we are proud of and we take pride in providing to our clients.

  5. Hi Jen, I know you are legit and I know you don’t send just any recording to client or opportunities, and you charge a fair price for your work. The word FAIR is NOT KNOW TO A LOT OF PUBLISHERS AND SONG PLUGGERS. I don’t send my songs out to every opportunity for the same reason. I not going to bother someone with a song that doesn’t fit. But we as artist need to be aware who is real and who’s not. It would be foolish for me to pay $1600.00 to have a song put on a song compilation C D. I know what it cost to print and market a CD … hell I could do that myself if I could find 15 or 20 suckers willing to pay me that kind of money. I have actually had that kind of “bull” come across my computer. So it’s up to us to realize there’s people good and bad in all phases of business. Please keep up the good work and and be patient with those still learning (some the hard way) .
    Paul Wilson Songwriter

  6. I read your Email this week regarding scams and I am sorry you have justify yourself due to what someone with a keyboard somewhere decides to say. Often times people take the easy route and point the finger saying something is a scam, rather than looking at the real reason as to why they are not finding success and it’s much easier to tear something down than to build something from scratch. But this is now the age we live in where any idiot can say anything about anyone whenever they want. Whether someone hates my music and blogs about it of if I miss a note and it lives forever online, it’s out there, lurking, waiting to pounce.

    Regardless, in a world that not only steals ones creativity, but also condemns you when you put yourself out there, us musicians do what we do because it makes us happy and scratches our personal creative itch. You love what you do too and don’t forget that.

    Thanks for all the informative Emails you create for us.


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