The Dark Side: 6 Major scams to look out for in the music industry

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For upcoming artists, the industry is like a minefield. And while trying to  find your feet, you have to be careful not to get blown up by the many scams and fraudsters lurking around. It’s an unfortunate reality that many artists fall prey to these scams, losing money, time, and even their careers. 

Welcome to the dark side of the music industry. Undeniably, there’s a shady underbelly to the glitz and glamour we see on stage and hear through our speakers. And it becomes more obvious now that the Nigerian music industry has seen tremendous growth in recent years, with more and more artists breaking through and achieving international success. 

But fear not. In this article, we’ll be delving into the major scams to look out for in the music industry, and how to avoid them like the plague. So, buckle up, and let’s show you the 6 major scams to avoid and how to protect yourself and your career from them

  • Unfavorable sponsorship & record deals

One of the most common scams in the Nigerian music industry is the so-called “360 deal.” This type of deal is offered by record labels or sponsors and typically involves the artist giving up a significant portion of their income and control over their career in exchange for a record deal or sponsorship. Several Nigerian artists have been victims of this type of deal and have either lost their career or suffered a catastrophic setback. 

To not fall victim of this, it’s important to, first be patient and not jump into any deal just because you’ve been struggling to become popular. Thoroughly read and understand any contract you’re offered before signing, and consult with a lawyer or industry professional to ensure that the terms are fair and favorable to you.

  • Fake music promoters and publicists

There are many individuals, especially on social media that claim to be music promoters or publicists, but are actually predators and scams. These individuals often comment on your post requesting that you send a DM. Then they promise to get your music x number of streams, get you on radio or in front of industry executives. They go on to ask for money upfront and never deliver on their promises. 

Before working with a promoter or publicist, it’s important to do your research and ensure that they have a legitimate track record of success. Check out their websites, and social media pages. Ask people if they’ve heard about them. Also, ask if they can show you proof that they’ve done what they’re promising you before. 

  • Exploitative show promoters

Another common scam in the Nigerian music industry is exploitative show promoters. These promoters may promise to pay you a certain amount for a performance, but then withhold payment or pay you much less than promised. To avoid this, it’s important to have a clear contract in place before agreeing to any performance, and to ensure that payment terms are clearly outlined.

Additionally, these promoters engage in pay-to-play schemes where you are required to pay undue amount of money to perform at a venue or event. This is not only unfair, but it’s also illegal in many cases. You can refuse to pay and report the promoter or venue to the appropriate authorities.

  • Selfish A&Rs and Artist Managers

A&Rs (Artists and Repertoire) are individuals who are responsible for discovering new talent and signing them to a record label. Artist managers, on the other hand, are responsible for managing an artist’s career and ensuring their success. 

Unfortunately, some A&Rs and artist managers can be selfish and exploitative, using their position of power to take advantage of artists. For their personal gain, they get you into deals or events and liaise with people that are out to scam you.  

To avoid this, it’s important to thoroughly research any A&R or artist manager before signing with them. Check their background history, have a lengthy conversation with them, trust your instincts and ensure that they have a good reputation in the industry.

  • Untrustworthy lawyers

Lawyers are an essential part of the music industry. They can help protect your legal rights and ensure that you’re being paid what you’re owed. However, not all lawyers can be trusted. Some may overcharge for their services, while others may be more interested in their own personal gain than in protecting their clients. Before working with a lawyer, make sure they know what they’re doing and that they have a laudable reputation. 

Check this post on the importance of hiring a music lawyer on what to look out for before hiring one. 

  • Fake music competitions and awards

Finally, there are many fake music competitions and awards in the Nigerian music industry. These competitions may require artists to pay a fee to enter, but then never deliver on their promises of prizes or exposure. To avoid these scams, it’s important to thoroughly research any competition or award before entering. Also, avoid anyone who says they can help you get your name into a major music competition for a price. Na pure scam! 


In conclusion, the Nigerian music industry is growing and evolving, but with that growth comes an increased risk of scams and frauds. By being aware of these scams and taking steps to protect yourself, you can have a smoother career and increase your chances of longevity. Above all, be patient in your every dealing you have in the music industry. Not all that glitters, they say, is gold. 


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