Artist Feature Scams and How to Avoid Them

Hacker in front of his computer peforming a rap feature scam

Last updated on July 14th, 2023 at 11:23 pm

Features are a great way to collaborate with other artists and introduce yourself to their listeners. It has never been easier to message your favorite rapper or singer and ask them for a feature. It’s also never been easier to send money through one of several payment methods available today.

Beware, as there are many horror stories of eager artists sending money and receiving nothing in return. Most of these stories are rap feature scams. Since many artists are on a shoestring budget, getting ripped off for a thousand bucks can be an enormous setback.

Are you considering paying an artist for a feature? Do you have concerns about artist feature scams? Do you have an artist feature contract written up? Before you consider buying a rap feature, read below on how to avoid getting scammed.

1. Always Research The Artist You’re Doing Business With

What are others saying about the guy online? Message previous collaborators and artists who have had the artists feature on their work.

You can find this on their Spotify profile under “Appears On.” Send a DM to them, asking if the artist was professional and easy to work with.

To find out if they have scammed anyone in the past, you can simply Google search “(Artist name) scam” or “(Artist) stole money.” This might dig up some posts on Reddit of people who have had bad experiences with them.

2. Make Sure the Person Messaging You is Who They Say They Are

With so many fake Instagram accounts popping up lately, it can be easy to mistake a scammer for a real rapper. Scammers can create a similar username, buy millions of fake followers and likes, upload the artist’s real images, and even buy a blue Twitter check mark. 

3. Have Multiple Forms of Contact With the Artist

Just having their Instagram isn’t enough. It’s important to obtain their email, phone number, and even their address.

Having this information is crucial if the featured artist doesn’t deliver their part of the deal because in order to serve an individual with small claims papers, you need to know where they live.

There are services out there that can track down the individual for you, called Process Servers, but it will cost you a few hundred bucks.

It’s best to get all the information from the artist placed right inside of the contract. If the artist resists adding his address, don’t follow through with the deal.

4. Choose Your Payment Methods Wisely

If you decide to use Paypal, do not send money via the Family & Friends feature. Paypal does not offer buyer protection through this option.

Zelle also does not offer buying protection. Once you send the money, it’s gone for good, and there’s no way to get it back.

Trust me, I’ve spent hours on the phone with my bank and Zelle support with no luck in getting my money back from the individual I sent it to.

From what I understand, Venmo does appear to have buyer protection, so I would suggest using Venmo or Paypal. Remember, not the friends and family option.

5. Agree on a Price

If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. If a signed artist gives you a much lower-than-expected feature price to accommodate your budget, he might be finessing you. 

Let’s be real, they aren’t giving you a deal because he “thinks the beat is fire.” They’re most likely trying to take you for the most amount of money you can afford to be taken for.

6. Payment Terms

Many feature artists will ask to be paid in full upfront. This is a major red flag.

Do not pay in full. Pay 50% upfront and 50% when the stems have been delivered.

7. Be Clear on What You’re Paying For

Make sure you and the featured artist are in complete understanding of the parameters of the deal.

The more communication, the less chance of a misunderstanding happening. This is where a contract comes into play. More on that later.

8. Agree on a Deadline

After you pay an artist for a feature, this is usually how it goes for the next 3-6 months:

Artist: “Hey man, how’s the song coming along”

Feature Artist: “I’ll send it by the end of the week”

One month later…

Artist “Hey man, just checking in to see when I might be able to get the track from you”

Rinse and repeat.

Setting a deadline will lay out expectations of how long the delivery should take. This way, you know after the delivery date passes and you have not received anything, you can begin perusing legal action.

9. Agree on a Release Date

Agreeing on a release date will help eliminate any possible conflicts that arise with the featured artist.

It will also help the featured artist plan for helping out on the promotion of the record and to make sure no other releases are coming out at the same time, potentially stealing the thunder from your track.

10. Agree on How the Song will be Released: Collab vs Feature

How the song will be released is definitely something you should discuss with the artist. There are two ways to release a song with another artist. Either as a feature or a collaboration.

The differences between these two are whether the track appears on both artists’ Spotify and iTunes profiles or not.

The downside to releasing as a feature is the song will be buried in the feature artist’s “Appears on” section.

I suggest pushing for a collaboration release. That way, the song will be shown on the feature artist’s Spotify and iTunes profile, which will bring in more eyes and ears to discover the track.

11. Agree on Where the Song Will be Released

Will the song be released on Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, and Soundcloud? It’s important to mention every single platform to ensure there are no cracks for the agreement to slip through.

Seems pretty obvious that if both individuals are documented artists, of course, the song would be released on all industry-standard platforms, right?

Well, believe it or not, I’ve had an artist come back to me after I released a song he was featured on and tell me that I didn’t have permission to release it on Spotify.

Give me a break, buddy.

12. Master Ownership, Royalties, and Songwriting Credit

Make it clear who owns the master and what percentage of songwriting royalties and publishing the artist will be given.

It’s your call on how much you want to offer them. I’ve worked with artists who said they don’t want any percentage. Royalties can be used as a negotiating tool in order to bring down the cost of the feature price.

13. Keep A Record Of Your Conversations

God forbid they try to take you for a ride, make sure you have proof of the deal. Screenshot any messages, emails, and anything else that could come in useful if the artist goes rogue. 

But what will protect you the most is a contract.

14. Finally, Write up an Artist Feature Contract

Within the last year, I’ve had several artists message me explaining they sent a rapper money, then never received the song or heard from the rapper ever again.

This is why it’s important to draw up an artist feature contract that includes the details and all necessary legal jargon in order for the contract to be a binding agreement.

The first contract I ever wrote up and sent to a rapper was about five sentences long. It was missing a lot of crucial information. That deal didn’t end well for me. Trust me, you do not want to leave any loose ends.

The contact should include everything discussed in this article and more, such as melody/lyric revision requests, deliverable format requirements, and more.

Include information such as master ownership, royalty and publishing percentages, and license usage permissions.

It’s even a good idea to throw in add-on deliverables into the contract, such as a Social Media Shout Out, a Tiktok/ Instagram Reel Post, or other promotional-type negotiables.

If you want a 100% solid, air-tight artist feature contract that will hold up in a court of law.

I found a company called Creators Legal that offers a fully customizable Feature Artist Contract for just $19.

Artist feature contracts aren’t just important for rappers. They should be used for collaborations with singers, drummers, piano players, yodelers, you name it.

It will save you a ton of time and potentially thousands of dollars. If you want to arm yourself with the best chance of financial and legal protection, be sure to grab that contract.

If an Artist Scams You, Take Action

If by chance you become a victim to a rap feature scammer, do not let them get away with it.

The first step is to call an entertainment lawyer. There are many lawyers who offer a one-hour consultation. They can direct you on what your next steps are in possibly getting your money back into your hands.

If the scammer is from another country, that could be a little more difficult. Googling “How to serve papers small claims” will get you pointed in the right direction.

Are Artist Feature Scams Illegal?

Yes. It is illegal for someone to accept money from an individual and provide none of the services that were discussed. Artists often get away with stealing money from others.

Some have reported losing out on tens of thousands of dollars from bully rappers who have absolutely no decency. These individuals are criminals and should be punished for their theft.

Artist Feature Prices

How much should you pay for an artist feature? Artist feature prices vary depending on the popularity of the artist, of course.

If you’re low on funds, you may want to start with local artists in your area. Become friends with them, and hopefully, you can steer your friendship toward creating together.

Generally, artists will ask for more than they are actually worth. I’ve seen rappers with 150 monthly listeners want $500 for a feature. Get real, pal.

If an artist gives you a realistic price but it’s still a little above your budget, negotiating the price a bit is okay, just don’t lowball them. It will come off as disrespectful, and you probably won’t hear back from them.

You must think of this as an investment. Be smart with your money. Do some research on what a feature from a specific artist is worth to you.

Perhaps you might make your decision based on how many monthly Spotify listeners the artist has. Whichever way you do it, make sure the price and the investment align with your goals.

Final Words

At the end of the day, it’s your responsibility to take precautionary measures when working with another artist. If you’re an artist and you have questions, feel free to reach out. I’d be happy to help in the best way that I can.

Written by Bo Weber

Supporting artists since 2014


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