In every sphere of life or career there are always people who come in the guise of helpers but whose sole aim is to use you for their own benefit. Don’t get me wrong, not everyone is that way, some will actually come through for you. They carry you along as they grow and make sure you are taken care of, they ensure everyone in their circle eats and benefits. They will look out for you even without any agreement in place. But not everyone is built that way. Not everybody is loyal, some are loyal for only as long as you bring value or of benefit to them. Loyalty is a scarce commodity especially in the creative arts and entertainment industry.
In the music industry these kinds of people abound and come under different names. There is the music exec who promises to help you realize your dreams as an artiste but whose sole aim is to use your talent in whatever way they can to earn income, while always promising that they are pushing and making moves for you.
Then there is the producer who will call in an instrumentalist to play on a beat or song without paying for it or making sure they get due recognition. They will cunningly coerce a songwriter or upcoming artiste into writing & referencing songs for other artistes with promises of getting them collaborations or renumeration for it but never does.
There’s also the artiste who is already blown or known who promises you Heaven and earth, who assures you, that you will get paid for everything you do for them, they coax you into creating melodies for them, writing hooks, songs, or even referencing a whole song for them without giving you an actual contract or split sheet agreement so you can earn from your talent. They will forever want you dependent on them so you don’t work for others or earn your own income if not crumbs from their table.
The list goes on and on, but these people have one thing in common,they are all users disguised as helpers. All they are after is to gain from you, to use you to their benefit without thinking of how you can also earn at least a part of their income or from it. These people will invite you for writing, vibing or boot camp sessions without telling you how you will get paid or giving you a proper agreement so that you can earn income at the end of the day. They prey on the fact that you are upcoming, in need of exposure and hungry for attention and notice by any means necessary, beware.
The moment you start asking questions, whenever you mention anything about a written agreement, contract or split sheet they label you an ingrate, selfish and call you all sorts of names to cover the fact that all they want is to use you. They will start making excuses and you will become an enemy or progress who doesn’t know when he/she is being helped. They will start to play on your intelligence using manipulation and emotional blackmail to make you feel bad. Please don’t, you didn’t come to Lagos to look at bridges or leave your town or village to stay in poverty.
These kinds of people are everywhere which is why as an upcoming, established artiste, producer or creative, you need good management or at least a lawyer who can handle these things for you. Sometimes an upcoming creative is too much in awe of the big league artiste or very wowed by being in their presence that they forget to get things like contracts & agreements out of the way before work proper begins. Ding ding ding, never go into anything without having an agreement in place. It should be stipulated clearly in writing and signed by both parties or their appointed representative(s).
I will let you in on a secret: most big artistes never do anything for FREE. It might seem like it’s for free but they always earn from it in the long run or in the end (if they perform at your party or event or come to your occasion for free you are either giving them honorarium or paying for all their expenses or paying them in kind with either cash gifts you have given them over time or will give them in future or with services you had already rendered to them or will still render in future).
You might get discounted rates but it’s never for free. You have made or will make some sort of payment, nothing is free with them.
So before you do anything for free think about 3 things;
a) How will it benefit my brand personally or business wise?
b) How much will I earn from it in cash or in kind now or in the future?
c) How will it help my career, my business or my reputation to move forward?
After thinking it through and you decide to go ahead and do it for free then feel good about it and don’t complain. Yes, some people will still come through for you without having a written agreement with them but the majority won’t bother. Once they have gained what they want from you they discard. Once your services are no longer beneficial to them they move on to the next. So be guided, always guard yourself, career or your reputation. Instead of doubts, regrets or blaming everyone but yourself, simply make sure you have an agreement in place. An agreement is always better, a written, signed agreement between both parties so there will be no case of had I known?