How I got scammed out of over $4k AUD.
Nobody likes getting scammed. Nobody likes when they thought they were going to get scammed, didn’t trust their gut, but made the deal anyway – And got scammed. I’m swallowing my pride and sharing this because I think it’s important as musicians, producers and aspiring artists to have each other’s backs. So here’s how I got screwed.
In March 2017, I took a year off work and moved from Sydney, Australia to Lima, Peru. I took my studio with me and started working on production, mixing and enhancing my knowledge of the music industry from a busniess perspective. A friend introduced me to the Facebook profile of Dan Byelich, “CEO” of Red Label Records based in San Diego, California. He frequently posted about his own rap career as D. Lynch, connections with other artists, and bragged about how much he’d made in the industry. Additionally, he claimed to have "open spots" for musicians and producers, a business model I'd never heard of, so I reached out to have a chat. I come from a sales and marketing background, and thought we could trade value. He asked for $150 for consultation (which typically runs around $50), and I obliged.
We chatted over the paid consult and things seemed alright, though he was very money focused (not to be confused with business focussed). He spoke about how he’d worked with artists including Snoop Dogg, Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, and other major label names. I checked this out through his Spotify and it looked legitimate.
I asked Dan if he ran mentor programs within his label, which would see him take me on and eventually see us work together on opportunities. He said he’d done this numerous times and was extremely selective of whom he’d take on. He proposed a cost of $300 USD per month, for 2 hours a week. As I was based in Peru, this felt like a cost effective way to build a relationship with someone who seemed responsive and had a grasp on the industry at a fair hourly rate.
Happy days, right?
During the first “mentoring” session, I explained my background in digital marketing, branding, social media marketing and various other forms of promotion (I’ve worked with various global brands such as Universal, Sony, Ferrari, Audi and Uber to name a few). Dan said he ran social media ads and he’d be keen to talk. I took him through some marketing tactics, focusing on his business goals rather than working together, as agreed.
Fast forward, Dan is pitching me an opportunity with Joyner Lucas, one of my favorite rappers - $3,000 for a featured verse from Joyner, and Dan and I would produce the beat. I declined initially.
“Mentoring” went on and he ran me through various ways he monetized his music skills.
Now, I’m an opportunist and I love a good deal, so the thought of getting Joyner on a track that I’d played keys on was difficult to dismiss. I need to stress that no transactions happened without a lengthy back and forth process and solid justifications around pricing, finished off with a contract.
When it came to contracts things were weird; Dan requested money before the contract was actually sent. Once again, the opportunity I saw outweighed the risks. For what looks like an obvious scam, he did make a nice little profit selling a percentage of his song catalogue to a company called Royalty Exchange. I’d parted with enough money and invested in this deal with him which returned a $1200 dividend from a $2000 investment, still paid monthly royalties and was about to break even.
**He's since emailed me saying he's cancelled my contracts and no further communication would be answered.
This kept me going on the Joyner Lucas deal. I parted with $1500 to secure the spot. Dan used a variety of sales tactics like ‘fear of loss’ (which is claiming there are others about to buy and creating an urgency to purchase). Shortly after, I parted with 50% as a down payment.
When it came time to pay the balance, Dan told me that he’d lost control of his PayPal account, and that I had to send it through his secretary, Lauren Torres
It was around this time that my gut started to turn and my mind went to thoughts of getting royally screwed - but I was already halfway in, and I sent the other half.
The contract was now signed and paid for, and it was an "eye of the storm" period where I didn’t have my money and I didn’t have a product. This was December 30, 2017. I was on vacation, with poor wifi, but managed to do what was required to get this “urgent” deal sorted.
CONFIRMED RELEASE DATES
During this time, Dan mentioned that he'd had a major fallout with a well known celebrity publicist. This was one of many bad situations he'd found himself in during the short time we'd been working together. Former Red Label associate (and slick producer) LX Xander being one of them. He'd frequently trashed the name of LX to me, something that I found extremely unprofessional and disconcerting. I was becomming more and more concerned about aligning my name with his, as he'd seemed to make freqent enemies in the industry - I must point out that by this time, Dan was holding all my money.
I guess that when someone has a chunk of your money and is talking shit about people you've never met, it doesn't make sense to tell them that they don't sound like someone you want to work with or recieve career advice from, so I threw a few nothing statements back to feed his ego.
By this stage, I wanted out of our deal... It was clear that working with Dan was a BAD move.
...BUT, we were still inside his contract, and the opportunity was still live as far as I knew.
March 30th came and went, with not even a drum sampled or programmed. I waited a few days, then questioned what this meant in relation to the contract. Dan tried to backpedal and tell me that this was just how the industry was, that he'd done everything right, and claimed he had kept me in the loop of his movements, but still - He hadn't stuck to HIS contract!
To add a litte humour, the day he broke the contract, he posted this.
I let a week pass, then brought up the fact our contract had been broken. He tried to tell me that the contract didn't apply to him, and if the dates lapsed, it didn't matter on his behalf. This felt wrong. This is wrong.
Now, Dan adds in his contracts, that all legal pursuits are to be handled in San Diego. He does this as he deals with international "clients" (I really mean targets), so that when he breaks his contacts, they must be fought out in court in HIS city at HIS convenience. Most people (and most lawyers) would simply take the loss, leaving Dan with a big sack of money. Most people aren't marketing experts with webpage development skills...
I posted about Dan in his own "Inner Circle" group. He charges unsuspecting artists $12 a month to be a part of this, and they get about $12 of value. I was added free of charge as I was providing marketing advice. I posted in this group, warning his current and future targets which was taken down and blocked within 5 mins. BUT, within 4 mins it was seen by another member who'd been scammed also. Turns out that what he did with me was something he was more than happy doing on a regular basis.
**This was straight after the post in Dan's "Inner Circle" group.
This is another clear example of fraud, straight from the artist's mouth.
After speaking with Stephen, he's now in a similar mindset to me - No interest in the music industry whatsoever.
That's 2 from 2 for Dan Byelich... Moving on though
Where the situation sits now, is that Dan has blocked me from all communication, claiming that all correspondance would be sent through to his lawyers - who also look fake. I also never requested to cancel any contracts. Once again - SCAM
Fraud & Lies on Social Media
Furthermore to the lies he'd told about past business associates, the following videos were taken from instagram on Sept 15, 2018 - The day Eminem dropped "Killshot". They clearly show Dan claiming another producer's work (Illa Da Producer). This is an example of how scam music salesman operate in the digital age - utilising social media to capture attention through lies, attempting to convert it into money on the back end through beat sales, mentoring, career advice, featured verses etc.
So, let me finish as I started - As aspiring musicians, artists and producers, it's so important to look out for each other. On that note, I'd like to mention iStandard Producers. I've flown internationally multiple times to network with other producers face to face, attend events, learn business and branding strategy from the guys at the top in a super transparent manner driven by their organisation. I couldn't recommend these guys highly enough and I wish I'd have spoken with them prior to making this terrible deal.
The backlash of this whole situaton is that it has destoyed my passion to work on music. Over the past few weeks, I've sold my instruments and interfaces. I wanted to share the sitation with as many people as possible so that the same events aren't replicated for anyone else.
I'm happy to hear any and all responses, good or bad. Happy to look the fool and share my bad decisions in the hopes that YOU don't make the same mistakes, so like & share, and leave some comments when you do so that your network knows the ugly side of music, and above all...