We have all seen them. They’re usually the ones with the loudest voice. They’re bragging about how “blessed” they are with their current rate of “success”. They beg you for opportunities to play your show or remix your next release. After a while, you cave. They get in, they try to do their thing and they cannot deliver. You shell out good money for mastering or slot this guy in your event rather than someone who could really draw in the crowd and this guy absolutely fails to live up to his own hype. And it cost you. Big.
What went wrong? You checked out his social media. All of his new tracks on Soundcloud had thousands of plays. His Facebook page showed 50,000 fans. You even had videos of his past performances on YouTube (which weren’t bad… but they weren’t great either) that had a few thousand plays. Everything looked great, what happened? What did you miss?
What happened is: he lied and you were fooled.
Social Media isn’t new and neither is faking the persona so that someone looks more famous than they really are. Sadly, it’s so common today that people believe that you have to cheat in order to have people pay attention to you. It’s that particular group of people who you have to protect yourself against for two simple reasons. First and foremost, they probably cannot live up to their fictional hype. Second, they may actually believe their own hype and that means they’re probably going to be real jerks when you questions them about why their show/release didn’t do very well.
With that said, let’s talk about some of the tell-tale signs of a fake.
1) He just can’t stop talking about himself.
If you find someone who can’t stop talking about himself or his experience, you should immediately start waving the caution flag. At the very least, this guy may have some insecurity issues. He obviously doesn’t feel that his reputation speaks for itself; he has to speak for it. At the very worst, this guy is a liar and hasn’t really done jack or has only had a small role in what he’s claiming as his doing. In the middle, you’ll also probably find an unrelenting ego and an inability to admit to having faults. Even if he can back up all of his claims, this guy’s attitude is probably not one you really want attached to your events or label. In the long run, he’ll be more trouble than he’s worth.
2) Thousands of fans and not one talking about him
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Soundcloud are just a few examples of social media sites that we all use on a daily basis. Just for the sake of time, we’ll focus on Facebook.
Every Facebook fan page has some public statistics that you should look at on a regular basis. You can get to these by clicking on the “Likes” box that displays how many people have liked the page.
The first thing you need to know is that likes can be purchased… cheaply. What happens is people will purchase these likes and then over the next week or so, you’ll see a HUGE spike in their new likes per week. Be careful though, just because there is a spike, it doesn’t mean their buying likes. You have to compare that with the other public stats.
For example, how many people are talking about this page? You can take the “People Talking About This” and divide it by “Total Likes” and get a social engagement number. Anything about 1% is good. If someone has 50,000 fans, but only 10 that are talking about him, that pretty much means that he doesn’t have an actively engaged fan base. They may have clicked “liked” his page, but that’s as far as they’re willing to go.
Other stats on Facebook to watch out for include the “Most Popular City” and “Most Popular Age Group”. If you were going to do a show with a guy from Atlanta and that show was going to be in Atlanta, knowing the guy’s most popular city might be useful. If for example, his most popular city was Mexico City or Shanghai, you might want to be a bit suspicious. Unless he’s been touring in those towns or really selling records there, he’s been buying fans. Likewise if the guy’s most popular age group was say 16-18, you probably have the same problem.
Long story short: don’t go by the fans go by the interactions.
3) Google doesn’t even know who he is.
So you think you have a guy who has 50,000 legit fans and a good reputation, at lease when it comes to social media, what next? Google him. If he truly has 50,000 fans, you will able to find reviews, interviews and even commentary about the guy. No articles, but the guy insists he’s big? He’s either a fake or his followers are not very web savvy.
4) He has more plays on YouTube than Tiesto
Not only can you purchase “Likes” and fans, you can purchase plays. When you see this guy’s YouTube video and it has over 500,000 plays, but he’s begging you for a spot at your next gig he’s probably purchased those plays. Also, look at the comments. If he has 500,000 real plays but only 5-10 comments, that’s not a good sign. Remember how we figured out social engagement earlier? Take the number of comments on their videos and divide the by the total number of plays. Just like before, if it’s above 1% he’s probably not faking.
There you have it. Four easy ways to determine who is the fake and who is legit. Keep in mind that these are all subjective and that in the end, you will have to make your best educated guess as to how legit someone is.
The lesson though for those of us who have not made it yet is to strive to be honest with people about how green we are. Another take away though should be that we can try to fake it, but when we get caught faking it we do more harm than good to ourselves. Reputations take time to build, but they can be destroyed in minutes when they don’t match reality. Integrity is a word that has all but disappeared from our culture. Maybe it’s time to bring it back.