5 Secrets The Music Industry Doesn’t Want You To Know

The Heretic‘s Comment: Q-Tip said it best back in 1991, “Industry Rule # 4080, record company people are shady!” Starting in the early days of the music business with Blues and Rock & Roll, payola was once the most popular underhand practice.

Record companies and managers would bribe radio DJ‘s to give their artists radio play.  Although illegal, this practice has never stopped and continues to be used today, albeit in more subtle forms.  Rule # 4080 still applies and the methods industry execs use have evolved over time.

With the rise in new technology and the dominance of the internet threatening the music industry’s outdated business model, new “questionable” tactics have been developed to help labels stay afloat.  Here are just 5 secrets the music industry doesn’t want you to know!

1. Views, Likes, and Followers

Have you ever checked out a YouTube video only because it had a lot of views and you were curious to see why?  Are you more likely to follow an artist on Twitter who has 324,687 followers rather than one who has 54?  Are you the type of person to be first to “Like” an artist on Facebook or would you check to see that this artist already has a lot of “Likes” before you join in?

While you may think that looking at numbers is a ridiculous way to evaluate an artist’s worth (and it is!), millions around the world feel otherwise.  Sad as it may be, high numbers often propel artists to celebrity status.  Young and impressionable minds, which the industry targets since they’re the largest consumer base, often assume that if a video has millions of views, it must be good.

And even if they don’t really like the video, they support it anyway because everyone else seems to.  But here’s the dirty secret:

YouTube views, Facebook “Likes”, and Twitter followers can be bought for a moderate fee.

There are now dozens of companies who specialize in increasing numbers.  Some companies use special technology to achieve their goals while others claim to be able to get thousands of “real” followers.  If that weren’t crazy enough, “positive” YouTube comments supposedly written by real people can also be purchased!

This kind of practice is deceptive as hell and makes it difficult for aspiring artists who have to compete against those who have the means to buy such services.  I guess quality doesn’t matter when you can just buy your way to popularity.

2. Buying the # 1 Spot

Once YouTube Views, Facebook “Likes”, and Twitter followers have been bought, it’s time for the label to really go all out and buy thousands of CD’s and downloads to help the artist get to # 1 within the first couple of weeks of release.  Since sales have been declining due to free and illegal downloads, it’s become more and more challenging for artists to hit the top of the charts.

This is why some labels are buying their own products (often with the artist’s money), in hope that achieving # 1 will generate publicity and result in more sales and touring opportunities.  The idea is that the average fan is more likely to support an artist who appears to have a large following.  It’s all about image and perception, and for today’s mainstream music fan, this counts more than talent.

3. Professional Reviewers

Ever read customer reviews on Amazon or iTunes?  Some are brief, misspelled, and poorly thought out while others are thorough and clearly expressed, almost as if a “professional” had written it.  Shockingly, that’s exactly what’s happening!

Writers are paid to act like customers and write positive reviews.  Sometimes, these writers are simply part of the artist’s team, other times, they’re professional writers who get hired for their review services.  Companies have gotten in trouble for this kind of practice but this hasn’t stopped it from happening.  Again, this makes it difficult for new artists who don’t have the means to compete against this kind of deception.

4.   Wardrobe Malfunctions, Nude Pics, and Sex Videos

Every week, there seems to be another naked celebrity in the news: Nicki Minaj and Kelly Rowland’s wardrobe malfunctions a couple of days apart from each other, Rhianna’s explicit pics popping up regularly, and sex videos of B and C list entertainers leaked on every gossip site.

Sure, one could claim that these “indecent exposures” are just accidents or that intimate pictures and videos are leaked by spiteful exes and hackers.  If so, why does it keep happening every week?  If celebrities are truly as appalled and embarrassed as they claim to be when their naked bodies are leaked for the world to see, why do they keep such pictures and videos of themselves on their phones and computers if it’s that risky?

Why do artists continue to perform in outfits that barely cover them up and then act shocked when a breast pops out?  Truth is, most of these incidents are planned by the artists and their team for publicity.  As soon as the pictures or videos are leaked, hundreds of blogs and sites repost them right away.

Millions of Facebook and Twitter users repost them as well.  In a matter of 24 to 48 hours, that artist is Googled millions of times which causes their name to “Trend” online or on Twitter and increases their search ranking.  For the artist, this is an amazing free promotional tool that would otherwise cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in marketing.

All it takes is a little nudity and the public becomes their street team, their sales increase, the gossip sites have new content that drives traffic to them, and everyone’s happy…except for real artists with real talent who can’t get the same “free” promotion because they’re more interested in making music than showing their rear-ends  and boobs …which leads me to the next point…


5. Fake Beef, Phony Stories, and Controversy

Replace wardrobe issues, nude pics, and sex videos with fake beef, phony stories, and controversy and the result is the same: free publicity.

Did Soulja Boy buy himself a $55 million jet for his 21st birthday?  Is Rick Ross really threatening Kreayshawn?  Did Wayne really take shots at Jay Z? Does Kanye actually have 6 toes?  Ok, I made that one up but you get the idea!

When an artist, or an assistant pretending to be them, tweets something weird, crazy, unusual, or controversial, they know that it’ll spread in a matter of hours and eventually make the top blogs and gossip sites who welcome this kind of foolishness.  And again, everyone seems to get something out of it.  There was a time when this type of nonsense would have hurt an artist’s career.  Now, it sustains it…and that’s pitiful.

There are many more industry secrets.  Some of the ones discussed here are well documented.  I also know that some of you are sharp enough to see through the hype and didn’t need anyone to fill you in on what’s going on behind closed doors.

As well, I know that quite a few artists become successful without using these tactics.  Still, you can bet that the more resources an artist has access to, the greater the chances are that at least one of these methods has been utilized.  Do your own research and you’ll probably discover many more shocking methods.

The question remains, as competitive as this business is, would you use these methods if you had the resources to do so?


If you enjoy The Heretic™ and the information we provide please sign up as a subscriber today! Thank You!!!

Let us know your thoughts and comments.
The Heretic™ © 2011 Cross Live Media All RIGHTS RESERVED For the MAKE YOUR OWN MONEY Movement……..


Follow us on Twitter @attorneycross

Join our Facebook Fanpage: Search for Music Business Heretic

The Official Release of the  “Before You Sign That” a is August 1, 2011. An indie artist inspired book Authored by The Heretic’s very own Leslie W. Cross Jr. and co-authored by platinum recording artist Paul Wall.  On May 1, 2011 pre-order your copy. More details coming soon. We are very excited about this Project!!!!





The Heretic’s Comment:  As we wind down the year 2010 and move toward the possibilities of 2011, we want to emphasis to all our readers and subscribers who are artists/musical groups/bands/songwriters/producers/performers/DJ’s/Musicians/Managers/Labels….be very careful about the people you hire and put on your team. Toward this caution, we want to feature a video (available below)  recently put together by one of our clients Hi Dolla Muzik, LCC  which features the artist Hi Dolla Honey detailing a very ugly legal battle the company is engaged in to force an accounting and return of  thousands and thousands of dollars paid out to consultants to promote projects featuring Hi Dolla Honey.

For those of you who are involved in the day to day grind of making a living from your music, the issues detailed in this video will not be a shock, because we know that the music industry can be unforgiven if you get in with the wrong person. This notwithstanding, in some senses,  it is still nevertheless sad that we are all too familiar with the horror stories of unscrupulous opportunist taken advantage of artists/songwriters attempting to pursue their dreams of creating success in the music industry.

Closing Comments #1

One should never forget, that as your career progresses in the music industry the circle of people you run into gets tighter and tighter and as you go even higher you will notice that the same names will be mentioned time and time again. Because of this fact, one simple lesson….DO GOOD BUSINESS!!! Bad Business will always eventually catch up with you and once your name is ruined in this industry,  it is almost impossible to get people to spend money with you again. Therefore…DO GOOD BUSINESS!!! We are all out here trying to eat and pay our bills. The indie community is already in the fight of its life competing against multi-national conglomerates who possess billions and billions of dollars to strangle the life out of all music they can’t own and control so the worst thing we can do to one another is take advantage of the next independent artist/musical group/band/songwriter/producer/musician/dj/manager/label dream of generating cash-flow in the music game.

Closing Comment #2

Remember as independents we mainly operate under the Team structure as opposed to the Owner/Worker structure employed by Major Music conglomerates.  As such, your Team is only as strong as its weakest member. As such, if you discover a bad seed on your team, get rid of them immediately. Don’t negotiate with Terrorist!!!

Closing Comment #3

The Video runs about 14 minutes long and we want to warn you in advance that it contains strong language, so keep this in mind as you view it.

Closing Comment #4

Let’s do excellent business with one another in 2011 and beyond!!!


The Music Business Heretic © 2010 Cross Live Media All RIGHTS RESERVED For the MAKE YOUR OWN MONEY Movement……..


Turning Page Views Into Music Sales

attorneycross On November - 9 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

The Heretic’s Comment: We found a great article from columnist Angelina Chapin providing strategies regarding turning page views into Album Sales. We highly recommend you read the entire article for yourself, but we have provided some of the article’s direct quotes for your convenience. The following is commentary centered around the band Arcade Fire’s you-tube video release entitled “The Wilderness Downtown“. Okay, enough setup, let’s check out the quotes:

Last month, the band (Arcade Fire) released an online interactive video titled The Wilderness Downtown, a collaboration with Google and American music video director Chris Milk that uses the latest in HTML5 web technology to evoke the feeling of nostalgia expressed in the band’s song “We Used To Wait.” Viewers enter their childhood street address and the video takes them on a virtual tour of their old neighbourhood. Multiple browser windows simultaneously show close-ups of your street via Google Street View, footage of a man running, and an invitation to write a postcard to your childhood self.

When you see something like that, it’s an example of ‘Wow, I guess everything hasn’t been done yet,’” says Alan Cross, host of syndicated Canadian radio show The Ongoing History of New Music, adding he’s not a diehard Arcade Fire fan. “It changed my opinion of them, and I passed it on to everyone because I think it’s so damn cool.

With more than four million visitors to the site so far, the video has surely helped get attention for the band’s new album The Suburbs, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts prior to the video’s release. Sixty-two per cent of sales of The Suburbs have come from digital downloads, compared with half that number for their previous album. And though the band’s management declined to comment on whether there was a direct correlation between the online project and sales, Jordan says it’s not about the short sell anyway. “It’s key to super-serve your core audience,” he says. “By giving things for free, it creates a culture of support where fans don’t mind buying tickets for your show or your album because they know they’re getting more value.

Adding value to a product or service strengthens your clients’ loyalty to your company, explains Nova Scotia-based new media and design consultant Brad Smith, but it has to be done in a way that makes them feel rewarded rather than accosted. Smith advises that his clients always give fans a little extra to help create a sense of exclusivity around a brand. “Social media is intimate,” he says. “When you leak details, it feels to fans that you’re leaking secrets.” For example, he encourages the varsity hockey teams he works with to leak shots of new features on their jerseys so fans can blog about it and create buzz.

Closing Comments:

We want to commend columnist Angelina Chapin again for putting together a very informative article. One of the things to pull away from reading this information is to always stay conscious of the need to reward your Fans with value in exchange for their association with your music. In terms of giving music away for free in order to build fan support, Unfortunately, we have witnessed numerous examples in our law practice where clients feel justified in thinking that free music means SONG REJECTS (music that I don’t  want to release commercially). We have witnessed clients giving away free music consisting of poorly recorded songs as well as (in some cases) songs that are not even fully produced. This is a terrible mistake, because it doesn’t build value between your music and a possible Fanbase building around your music and brand. If you make the decision to give away music for free, then don’t give your potential Fans “SLOP“. In other words, Free should not mean SONG REJECTS. Instead, Free should be viewed as an opportunity to showcase quality material (yes, let us repeat…your commercial, high quality material), so that both established Fans as well as potential new Fans have a low risk way to fall in love with your music and brand.

One last time….never, ever, ever….shortchange your Fans!!! Give them quality with all that you do (and by consistently doing so) you maximize opportunities to turn page views into Album Sales, Merchandise Sales, Live Performance Sales, Sponsorship Sales, Endorsements Sales, Special Appearance Sales, etc…!!!!!!  (you get the picture)

Give us your thoughts


The Music Business Heretic © 2010 Cross Live Media All RIGHTS RESERVED For the MAKE YOUR OWN MONEY Movement……..


This music game is a trip. For many of us the good or great days are separated by long stretches of back to back to back challenging days as well as outright bad days. But in the end, for those of us who choose to fight and attempt to push forward to make a good living through the music industry, we can’t get around the fact that (for the most part) we live and die by the choices we make. What do I mean by making this statement? Its simple, you can choose to have life in the music industry by making good choices. Or you can choose to endure death in the music industry by making bad choices.

Okay Cross (you ask), what are examples of me choosing life in the industry?

In response to your question, I point out that you choose life by:

1) dedication to your craft,

2) increasing your skills in whatever you do in the music industry as well as keeping up with the changes in technology and procedures so that you can perform and deliver your skills more effectively;

3) acquiring knowledge and gaining an understanding of how the music industry works and how you get paid from the music industry;

4) studying and learning from the mistakes other individuals and/or companies have made in the music industry and making sure you put in strategies to prevent yourself from repeating their mistakes;

5) realizing that you can always be better…being excited to take the challenge of conquering the next mountain that just came into view from the mountain you are standing on the top of….

I could go on and on with the above, but prayerfully you get the picture.

Okay Cross, you respond, I think I understand how to choose life…Now give me some examples of choosing death in the industry

In response to your question, I point out that you choose death by:

1) being lazy and never working on your craft, but telling everyone you are an artist, songwriter, producer, manager, DJ, etc…;

2) not growing your skills and keeping up with the changes in technology and methods to effectively perform what you do;

3) not making an effort to understand how the music  industry works or how you get paid from the music industry. Instead, you are more interested in going to the studio to work on some more songs. Or get high or drunk and tell everybody that will listen to you how great a artist/songwriter/producer/performer you are going to be one day;

4) not studying the mistakes that others have made in the music industry and thus not having any awareness that you are about to make the same exact mistake that took so and so out;

5) thinking that you are the symbol of perfection…believing that there is nothing left for you to do or say.

Just like before, I could go on and on with the above, but I think you get the picture.


I am requesting that you perform the two following tasks on a daily basis in reference to your musical career:

1) Take a minute to pray every morning and sum up the actions you plan to get accomplished for that particular day and ask yourself the following question…am I choosing life for my musical career or am I choosing death for my musical career? If your plans are leading you toward death…make a course correction and choose life.

2) Take a minute to pray every night before you go to sleep and sum up the actions you took during the day and ask yourself the following question…with my actions today did I choose life or did I choose death? If your actions during the day lead you to death, then resolve yourself to make  course corrections so tomorrow you can live and not die.

The Music Business Heretic © 2010 Cross Live Media All RIGHTS RESERVED For the MAKE YOUR OWN MONEY Movement……..


Who are the Black Eyed Peas Really?

attorneycross On August - 23 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

The Heretic’s Comment: The success path taken by  The Black Eyed Peas is a wonderful template to study regarding how to execute a multi-simultaneous (we just made that word up) attack strategy to stay relevant and paid in the Music Industry (Wow that’s a mouth full). But on a very serious note: The Black Eyed Peas have successfully and strategically been able to defy categorizations, genres, racial profiles, age brackets, etc…in their quest to stay alive in the Music Game…they simply refuse to be placed in a box. In one word…hate them or love them…the Black Eyed Peas are ORIGINAL…and originality is getting them paid nicely.  C. Borrelli of the Chicago Tribune has put together a wonderful article attempting to answer the question who are the Black Eyed Peas. In fact, within the article, Borrelli asked the following question: What do the Black Eyed Peas put on their W2? (we are only providing the subtopic headings because we really want you to read the entire article):

1. A Major Recording Act (this is true, Black Eyed Peas have sold 35 million records and won 6 grammys)

2. A Performance Art Collective (visually, the Black Eyed Peas are very captivating…and captivating is helping the cash to keep flowing)

3. A Brand (The Black Eyed Peas have endorsement from several major corporations including but not limited to Verizon, Pepsi, Apple, Best Buy, the NBA, etc)

4. A Superhero Team (The Heretic’s favorite) (“I think the Black Eyed Peas fits the Superhero mold. If they hated each other they would be a Marvel Team, but they are definitely DC: They complement one another”)

Closing Comments:

We want to leave you with one final quote from the article:

The Black Eyed Peas are the future of pop culture. They are a hard-to-define, still-evolving entity. Their leader, a human named will.i.am, has said he thinks in terms of “Tomorrow People” and “Yesterday People.” YPs see the music industry in terms of recording artists who play music. TPs see themselves in broader terms — part artist, part image, part multinational conglomerate, part post-modern lifestyle option.

Let us know your thoughts!!!!