RAW Artists - a MLM style scam

#1

I got an email this morning from a “Curation Specialist” from a company called RAW Artists. They found me on Etsy and wanted me to come show my work for their “super exclusive” showing in Dallas.

They basically make it out like a sweet deal. Its free for artists to show their work and they take 0% commission on sales. They make money by selling tickets at the door. You get a whole 6’x6’ booth to do whatever you want with. They’re even having the event at the House of Blues, which is a nice venue.

Maybe I’m a cynic, but I’ve read enough scam emails to know that when people contact you out of the blue and claim they’re so exclusive they’re usually trying to take advantage of you being flattered. Sure enough when I looked for information online I found out that the artists have to sell tickets (one reddit thread said 20 $20 tickets, one said 30), and what tickets they don’t sell they have to pay for themselves. So instead of a big booth fee you’re buying “tickets” or begging others to do so. Apparently its a known scam that I just wasn’t in the know about.

Just wanted to spread the word in case any other artists at DMS got the same email.

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#2

Assuming the event gets decent turnout, what is the value of a 6’x6’ booth versus $400 or $600? That is another way to look at it…

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#3

That’s fair. I just don’t like how they hide that information. Its not on their website or anywhere in the email.

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#4

I get those from time to time. They just sweep through Etsy stores. Like you, I read up on them.

What most participants say, and this is a 9 out of 10 experiences here (1 of 10 seemed to have a good outcome but those could be shill comments), is that they are on the hook for around 20 tickets, which they end up begging friends and family to buy and thus don’t really get any exposure. your friends and family are there to support you, not the others there so they don’t tend to mingle to go look at other folks work. They never promoted the event as they suggest that they will; that was your job, so you also don’t get any rando folks who want to come see an art show.

They don’t tell you the whole story and for 9 out of 10 folks who’s reviews I’ve read, they said it was a waste of their time and money. its like the who’s who books of the 80’s-90’s. I’d put this in the same category as getting paid in Exposure Bucks.

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#5

I got one of these too and was super excited until I did some research and found out you have to sell tickets. Blech. I don’t do face to face sales and my social media is all dog posts.

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#6

I participated in RAW back in 2012 when I lived in OKC, for my photography. Its not a scam, per se, its a legit show. Their model works as you mention, they take 0% commission because they get their cash through your ticket sales. I believe at the time I did it, each ticket was $20 and you needed to sell at least 10. I’m sure its different now in terms of pricing. This isn’t much different than other shows where the gallery takes a certain commission (usually 20%) and friends/family that attend still need to purchase a ticket if they’re going on the reception night. RAWs model just makes you be the salesman.

I’m not sure exactly what they offer now, but when I did it they did an video interview about your work, you had a webpage on their site that had your bio and contact info. In addition to that, once you do a show you supposedly were able to be accepted to any of their other market’s shows without as high a requirement of ticket sales. I will say it probably doesn’t cater well to all types of artists as the show I was in was very “hip”. I couldn’t see a traditional farmstead landscape painter making much in the way of exposure as RAW includes fashion, makeup, music, performance art, etc. I had hard enough time explaining my 1800’s photographic processes with loud techno music in the background :wink:

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#7

I think we went to one of these shows a couple years ago when it was held at the Gas Monkey Live venue.

I wouldn’t call it a scam, but it is very much a case of evaluation of cost vs exposure/sales potential. I’d want a better idea of who the other attending artists were and the genres the covered to see if there was enough crossover into my art/product lines.

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#8

This sounded familiar to me, and I found why. Back in 2012 via etsy as well.

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#9

Definitely a bait and switch. Without any understanding of the demographic at the event and the chance that a large amount of the “tickets sold” are actually booth fees and not people showing up, this looks like the setup for a possible BUST. That said they are in multiple cities and do events seemingly every year. may be a thing to attend once and see if your likely to join them in the future.

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#10

this is literally the model of battle of the bands. they target beginner musicians in this way and it is an extremely common grift.

depending on how plucky the event organizers are sometimes they will claim you returned fewer tickets and are now out of pocket needing to compensate them for the lost tickets. little scraps of pink paper are suddenly worth ten dollars apiece and there’s 5 of them you gotta pay them back for.

if they’ve already bait and switched in the initial email wait until you mail your tickets back and they come back with a counter offer. no contract is signed this whole time so they just keep stringing you along.

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#11

In the 80-early90s, the whole Los Angeles “pay to play” was like this for up and coming bands. Only headliners didn’t have to sell tickets. (My ex and I managed a heavy metal band way back then.)

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