May 16

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Pitfalls of the Music World

Beware of Jackals and Smoke & Mirrors

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Ahhh, so you want to be a musician and make your way in the music world. So much fame and fortune to be had with private charters, room service, five-star hotels, platinum records – yet how does one get to those riches.

Let’s meet “Jack” – short for Jackal.

“Jack” is going to be your ticket to the big leagues – just ask him.

“Jack” is going to provide the roadway for you to aspire to your wildest dreams and create your own music dynasty – but of course you have to let “Jack” be the one to get you there.

“Jack” is going to offer you many different options that he has in his vast arsenal of marketing that for a fee he will put totally at your disposal – of course all of that comes with a fee as well after all this whole music thing IS a business you know.

“Jack” is going to impress you with shiny objects like his own distribution label, international exposure, TV shows that will be syndicated across the globe, he will have a “team” of “music professionals” that will guide you career in everything from basic PR right on through to booking large tours and TV deals – yes, “Jack” is going to take you to places that were only dreams inside of your head late at night.

Anything you can think of that is related to the music business “Jack” has got it covered for you – for your signature and a fee – but hey, that’s the music business.

He’ll tell you that you are going to ride from festival to festival in style inside a Prevost touring bus – oops, its in the shop right now so we will just rent this school bus with no A/C – don’t worry this heat wave will end soon I’m sure.

“Jack” will provide a crack team of A/V techs from his music empire to film your experience as a rising international star at your show that will be aired across his “vast international” network consisting of less than 180 Subscribers – just be blessed that this “professional” AV work will be done with an iPhone.

“Jack” will take you into venues that will be “sold-out” – well that is up for interpretation of course but worry not – whatever your slice of this pie is you will get it months down the road if you sign a DNA to have you silenced from telling people what this was really all about.

What about that act or two that have some form of recognition in the music biz, they wouldn’t be a part of it if this wasn’t legit with “Jack” – well then we are into guarantees, expenses covered and a litany of other little side deal agreements that have nothing to do with you but guarantee ticket sales. The music business after all is one big food chain and if you are young and new make no mistake you are at the bottom of it.

Just because “Jack” comes from some other city, province doesn’t mean he is the real deal – most times he’s not.

“How do I avoid the “Jacks” of the music business?

Be proactive – look at their “international network” on social media and especially Youtube – if they are truly pushing acts internationally their Youtube will have a minimum of a million subscribers and the views will be off the charts.

Look at their “roster” – if the Tours are a massive success and artists on it are getting all this PR, bookings and record deals, then they will NEVER go off of it – if the artists each year are different then that’s a sign of a few things.

1)    They got locked in for the year on a contract and once it was over, they ran for the hills to not get fooled again by “Jack”

2)    They made dick money at the end of the “tour” and in some known cases had to sleep in their car and depend on strangers for gas money and food to get home - “Jack” doesn’t like to talk about that much.

3)    ANYONE can set up a shell company or multiple ones to make it look like they are tied into everyone in the different facets of the music business.

4)    And the best one of all is when “Jack” says “I know someone at a major record label” – translation – he knows the night janitor or a secretary in some non-important office somewhere.


Do yourself a favor before you become yet another casualty in the music business.


First thing join your local branch of the Canadian Federation of Musicians so you have some organized protection behind you and make sure that any contract you sign is one sanctioned by the CFM and is looked over by a lawyer.


Do you homework on an agent or promoter or “management company” – find out who has hired them, contact those people and talk to them, ask around the music biz of people you respect and see if they have heard of them at all.


Music is a business and there is LOTS of “Jack” out there that live to make money off you and take yours in the process.


Educate yourself.


Jim McCormick - Allstage