Scams To Watch Out For As An Artist
Unfortunately when you've got a dream like being a professional artist, there are people who will try and exploit it for their own benefit. Protecting your capital (ie. money) from these scams is crucial in advancing your career, as you want to be as cost-effective as possible.
"I'll Shop Your Music To XXXXXX"
Do your homework if you plan on using these "submission" services. Talk to people and find someone who's used it, ask what their results were. My opinion? 90%+ of these are shady and designed to keep you paying fees indefinitely. They'll take your money, give you a bit of feedback and say "the label wasn't feeling it but they liked your style, just keep submitting and you may land something..." - round and round you go until you've spent hundrds of dollars on "submissions" with no actual proven discourse with a major label.
Fake Plays / Fans / Followers / Shares
Unless you can find a reputable company than can drip-feed these to make them look completely natural, I would stay away from them altogether. You can always tell when someone's play-boosted, and admit it, it looks cheesy as hell. If the listener takes notice, more often than not he'll be turned off by it. People want authenticity in their favorite artists.
Record Label / A&R Directories
If you're able to buy them, so can every other artist in the world. Maybe someone's uploaded it to BitTorrent or some other file sharing site. Potentially hundreds of thousands of people have access to these "contacts".
These emails get spammed til they can't accept anymore files. If you find a phone number that is still in service, it will be a receptionist trained to give you scripted-answers on where you can submit your demo. Into the pile it goes.
You're honestly better off hitting these types of people (eg. A&Rs, label reps) on Twitter. (and I wouldn't suggest doing that until you're 100% ready, with a single that's getting local radio-play at the minimum!)
Producers Selling Leases To Beats They've Already Sold Exclusively
It happens more than you'd like to think. Make sure your contracts are iron-clad in discouraging this type of behavior, under punishment of financial penalty if possible.
Wanna make sure you're not getting screwed when buying an exclusive license to a beat? Before even inquiring about the exclusive rights, ask about leasing another beat that the producer has already sold. If he agrees to license it to you in some way, chances are he will do it to YOUR exclusive beat too - so stay away!
When an agreement has the phrase "in perpetuity" in it, you better pay damn close attention to what you're signing. Always consult with a lawyer before signing an agreement , especially if you don't fully understand all its provisions. This sounds like common knowledge, but a lot artists get excited and sign the first thing a label or manager puts infront of them. Remember, every contract and agreement is negotiable.
These are just some examples of what to look out for. If something seems fishy to you, hold off on sending any money and do some research. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Try to find impartial reviews and ratings or post a thread on a hip hop messageboard asking if anyone's used it. When you're starting out as an artist, every dollar counts.