If you are in a band that plays original music of any kind, I hope you know by now to NEVER pay to play. After 25 years of seeing people try to get money out of musicians, I could do a whole series of posts on this stuff, and maybe I will, but for now you should check out the site Never Pay To Play if you’ve never seen it. However, while that site mostly focuses on selling/paying for tickets in order to secure an opportunity to play a live show, there are a bunch of other scams out there. In this post, I’ll be discussing one that I’ve come across several times in the last few months: College Underground Radio.
Every spam attempt I’ve seen from College Underground Radio has been in one Facebook group for punk music (although they’re obviously hitting groups spanning all genres of music). The original post will say something like: “Drop your music for viral promotion!” This particular group has approximately 5,000 members, mostly musicians who are eager to promote their music. So a post like this will get dozens of replies within an hour, all from users sharing their links to their music on youtube, spotify, etc. The original poster will then reply to each comment saying to email the music to him instead of posting it.
This is because he doesn’t care about your music. He doesn’t even need to listen to it. You’ll email it to him, and then he’ll say it’s great and will eventually get around to telling you about the fees they charge.
Now, if you’re a punk musician, you should know that I’ve listened to the “ROCK-COUNTRY-METAL UNDERGROUND MUSIC CHANNEL” for about an hour or so, and the closest thing to “punk” was a track that sounded like a watered down Blink 182 song. But let’s take a closer look at the site.
First, the graphics. I mean, take a look at these and surely you’ll want to hand money over for these services, right?
But most importantly, let’s look at the services. (I personally enjoy the “made with mybannermaker” watermark on each of these images.)
To have a song played on College Underground Radio, you’ll pay $15 (one month) to $45 (three months). There are other packages that will play up to 15 minutes of your music once a week (instead of one song in a rotation) for a similar price. Want them to play your music video on their site for 30 days? That will cost you anywhere from $12 to $35. Being a featured artist with a picture and other info on the site costs $20 to $75. How about a banner?? (Maybe yours can also have the “mybannermaker” watermark as well!) That’s only going to cost you $10 to $45.
My personal favorite CUR service, however, is the interview opportunity! For only $50, they will send you the same interview questions they send to everyone else. You will answer them through email, and they will publish them exactly as you type them.
Here is a good one. “Grammer school” is one thing, but I really like how the second sentence starts in third person and shifts back to first person by the third word. (“Rob assembled MY first band…”) Rob obviously sent info, which they tried to change to third person, but they didn’t even take the time to read it all and make it look consistent.
There are a ton of these interviews, and they all contain the same exact questions. It’s the easiest $50 you could make. In fact, I will post your interviews here on this site for $25. That’s a deal. I have 3.5 billion readers. Trust me.
Music promotion is a legitimate business. I understand that. If that’s something you want to spend money on and you find a reputable company to do this, that’s fine. But while CUR pretends to be a service that will promote you and your music, everything on the site is geared toward selling products to new clients. When I see a link that says “Discover New Artists,” I expect to find some of the site’s featured artists. Yet when I click on it, it is once again trying to get me to pay to become a featured artist. It took me several clicks to even figure out how to find bands.
Over the last 20 minutes, this rock-country-metal channel has played a mess of songs I’d never listen to. There was a gospel-roots rock pro-Trump song called “Trump Train 2020,” a country track about social media, and then a hard rock Christian tune called “Love vs. Hate.” In between songs there were Christopher Walken impersonations about listening to the station. And people pay to have their music affiliated with this. (Imagine spamming your services in a punk group while a pro-Trump song plays on your radio station.)
Another funny thing about this site is that some of the pictures of CUR “staff” actually come up on sites for Russian brides when you do a reverse image search. Do you want to give these people your money?
Today, when someone from CUR posted in our group for the 3rd or 4th time, I decided to reach out to him. I grabbed a random acoustic cover from youtube, something that shows no real ability to write or record original music in any way. The guy playing the song was fine, but no real music rep would think anything of this video I “submitted.” I immediately got messages back saying the following:
“The track is super good men I and our team we keep on replaying the track just to enjoy. You are talented our listeners will be very amazed with your track . I will advise you to purchase for play as early this month as we are actually having our peaks of listeners each days this month it will be good for you.”
“Thank you very much for sending us your work for consideration. Your submission has been approved for exposure by our music review panel. Carefully read the information below before submitting your music. Music files must be in mp3 or Wav format.”
“I wanted to follow up with you on the music you had sent us and it’s great stuff for exposure on the magazine. I am interested in doing a press release /artist spotlight interview on you to show our readers more… The format is like an interview so we’ll send you full list of questions regarding your music and carreer, then put it all together.”
There is also a referral system, so I guess the person I contacted would get a commission when I get ripped off.
Look, if you are a new artist, or if you are struggling to find an audience, I don’t think paying for services like these is the way to go. I can’t see one single benefit for you. If anyone is listening to this stuff, it is definitely the other people who have paid to be there, and they’re not there to discover new music. It’s 2020. There are so many internet radio shows, blogs, social media sites, webzines, etc. Look around and take the time to reach out to people. I did a radio show for two years, and I had to fill an hour a week. I was picky about what I played, and I obviously never charged anyone to play their music, but I heard from bands all the time. I almost always listened to music people sent me, and if I liked it, I played it and promoted it.
Please do yourself a favor and have enough pride in your work to avoid scams like this.