European artists hit by ‘worst scam in 20 years’
More than 20 independent European musicians have each been left thousands of pounds out of pocket after being allegedly scammed by a phoney management company.
London-based Band Management Universal (BMU) – which reportedly charged up to £4,000 (€4,570) for packages supposed to include music production, marketing and touring services, as well as help to secure a recording contract – has shut its website and email accounts and cancelled its phones after failing to deliver the promised services, according to a BBC investigation.
A number of contractors are also believed to be owed money by the company, which was run by a man named ‘Matthias’.
An archived version of the BMU site from March 2016 shows the company’s address in Hatton Garden, London’s jewellery quarter.
“It’s a scam, definitely. There’s no doubt about it”
Among the artists who lost money are British singer Sarah Kaloczi (£2,000) and Dutch band Counting Wolves (£3,840). Jasper Roelofsen, singer in Counting Wolves, says ‘Matthias’ pressured him to pay, saying: “The quicker you get the money to me, the quicker we can get started”.
“We could have used that money to do something useful for our careers, but instead we burned it,” Roelofsen tells the BBC.
Horace Trubridge, head of the UK’s Musicians’ Union, says the alleged scam is the worst he’s seen in the past 20 years. “Oh, it is a scam, definitely,” he comments. “There’s no doubt about it.
“As soon as we hear that an artist has been asked to put their hand in their own pocket by a management company, big alarm bells start to ring.”
“We would caution artists not to pay through money on a wing and a prayer”
Annabella Coldrick, chief executive of the Music Managers Forum (MMF), adds: “Artists can check if managers are MMF members and are signed up to our professional code of practice. Needless to say, this guy [Matthias] isn’t.
“Artists should also ask around the industry for references before signing any contract, and should definitely take independent legal advice. Ensuring an artist has that independent legal advice also protects the manager.
“Some established artists do have managers on retainer rather than commission, and this can work well for the artist and the manager if structured right. But that set-up tends to be for very defined service delivery and we would caution artists not to pay through money on a wing and a prayer, as seems to have happened in this case according to the BBC’s report.”
Efforts by IQ to contact BMU were unsuccessful.
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