Potential Scam Alert! Writers appearing to be from The Source allegedly asking artists to pay for stories [BILL WERDE]

We’ve written about scams selling followers and streams, and the stream farms allegedly used by major artists. But writers purporting to be from a major online publication like The Source selling articles to aspiring artists is a new low. Bill Werde went in search of the truth.

by Bill Werde

A version of this essay first appeared in Bill Werde’s free, weekly Full Rate No Cap email. Werde is a former Billboard Editorial Director and Director of The Bandier Program for Music and the Entertainment Industries of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Taylor Swift played the Billboard cafeteria for Werde and a small handful of other editors when she was 16 years old and just starting to break.

I got the below screenshots last week from Nick Fine, an aspiring hip-hop producer, and rapper based in Connecticut. His story is relatable–he’s been grinding for a few years, uploading music to Spotify (he has 10K+ monthly listeners), Apple, and YouTube. His “Don’t Worry” has more than 1000 views on YouTube. So, needless to say, when he got what he perceived to be an Instagram DM from Jordan Eversley, a published writer for The Source, Fine was interested. 

But when Fine was informed that he would need to pay $70 for an article that would generate “at least 800k clicks,” Fine was smart enough to Google.

(Note: the @jayjayeversley account that Fine says reached out to him blocked me after I direct messaged the account some questions regarding the outreach to Fine. Here is a screenshot as of 2/18 of that account; you can see it identifies the account as belonging to an employee of The Source and includes a link to the actual, live The Source page of articles written by Jordan Eversley.)

(Story continues below the image.)

That search took him to a Trustpilot review of The Source that expressed dismay, from August 2022. That review alleged a very similar-sounding experience, one where an artist was contacted by a writer who identified themselves as working for The Source, and asked for $100 in exchange for an article; the review went on to say that after $100 was sent via PayPal, the writer contacted him again, this time asking for another $150 “for publishing.” (Story continues below the images)

Screenshot provided by Fine

Screenshot provided by Fine

I reached out to both the email on the Eversley instagram account, and all listed, general email addresses on The Source site multiple times during the past few days, to give The Source an opportunity to clarify whether this is an authorized marketing approach for them, or rogue writers, or just an outright scam. They have not responded.

So here’s some free, important advice, in case this is confusing to any aspiring artist: no credible journalist or publication will ask you for money for an actual news article or review. If they do, it’s a scam. And if a publication has a dedicated marketing section dedicated to pay-for-play coverage, (1) that should be clearly shared right up front, by anyone trying to sell that “opportunity,” and (2) you should be able to go to the site and see that content, and it should be marked as promotional in some way, shape, or form.

And if they promise you “800k clicks”? Get it in writing and tell them you’ll be happy to pay once your own server stats show they’ve delivered.

Then don’t hold your breath waiting for a reply.

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