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Scammers Targets Artists Using Fake ‘Warner Music Group’ Offer

In spite, or more likely because of the vulnerable state musicians currently find themselves in, a group of scammers have been using a fake Warner Music Group offer to offer artists promising promotional deals in exchange for large upfront fees.

Guest post by James Shotwell of Haulix

In a time when artists need more help than ever, a group of scammers is trying to take advantage of musicians with a fake email offer from the biggest names in music.

Being an up and coming independent artist is difficult. Being an up and coming independent artist in the time of Covid-19 is nearly impossible. The novel coronavirus has forced the cancelation of all live performances, which has significantly impacted everyone’s ability to make money. Couple that with the decline in physical album sales and song streams, and the current music landscape can appear pretty bleak. Everyone needs help, and those in a position to offer assistance never know where to start.

Whenever times of crisis arise, scam artists come out of the woodwork to take advantage of the situation. Examples of that behavior are everywhere, from price-gouging retailers on Amazon to so-called “natural” healers offering a cure to the virus sweeping the globe. The latest scam is specifically targeting the vulnerable independent talent trying to make ends meet while chasing their dreams.

A new email scam hitting the inboxes of up and coming artists is circulating online. The message finds con artists posing as Warner Music Group (WMG) execs and promising lucrative promotional deals in exchange for sizable upfront fees. The initial message comes complete with the WMG letterhead and (fake) phone number for the WMG offices. You can view an example below:

Aside from the web address and office address, the contents of this email are a lie, but many vulnerable artists may be fooled.

Experienced industry professionals will tell you the above message is a sad attempt at selling a lie. The kind of promotion offered by the scam letter does not exist, but that understanding may not be as obvious to young artists desperate to get ahead.

Those who do proceed with the offer and respond are sent a form to fill out and return detailing their personal and professional information. The message, again, appears fairly legit at first glance. There is even a space reserved for “WMG representative” to sign off on receipt of the information.

Cracks in this scam begin to appear at the end of the information sheet. The program claims to be supported by eleven industry groups and organizations, including Universal Music Group and Billboard. Those entities have no connection to Warner Music Group, nor does a program exist that involves all eleven companies promoting a single artist.

If anyone decides to pursue the scam further, a third form is sent. The email asks the participating artist to choose a “Benefit Plan” that costs between $200 and $1500 upfront. The plans promise branded promotions and claim to boost the artist’s revenue by thousands of dollars.

Of course, once someone pays for their selected plan the scammers disappear and never deliver on anything they promise.

Scams promising young artists high levels of exposure in exchange for money are as old as the industry, but con artists are getting increasingly convincing. If it is not clear by now, you should never pay for promotion from someone you do not know. If a major label wants to work with you, they will go above and beyond to establish a relationship, and they definitely won’t ask for money.

If you receive anything that sounds too good to be true, feel free to contact us for assistance. Email james@haulix.com, and we will do our best to help.

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company’s podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.

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