HillTop Records Scam

36 Comments

Today I received a letter in the mail from HillTop Records. In brief, the letter said that HillTop Records has begun a recording project and is interested in my compositions. The letter requests that I send 3 or 4 of my best compositions to them and they will arrange, produce and record my songs if chosen and pay me royalties on the back end. Whaa? Like any songwriter, I must admit that I was a little itty bitty bit excited to be getting correspondence from a record company, especially since their address is in Hollywood, CA. However, I did notice some strangeness in the letter. They didn’t say what artist or artists they were marketing the songs to – they just mentioned that their artists had performed with some very famous names in music, like Barbara Streisand and Dolly Parton. Performing with a famous artist really doesn’t say much. I performed with Shania Twain in October of 1998 at the Hulman Center…as a backup person – for one song – along with 5 other people. But, I could say that I’ve performed with the stars, as Hilltop Records would put it.

After doing a google search for “Hilltop Records” the first thing I saw on the list was “Hilltop Records Scam”. My heart sank. The itty bitty bit of excitement vanished entirely. I read the other people’s reviews of Hilltop being a scam. Apparently, they collect names from the Copyright office when people file to copyright their songs. (These are public documents and available for anyone to review.) After they choose one of your songs to put on their compilation CD, they ask you to pay around $400 for recording fees for your song. Then, they arrange it and have crappy musicians record it. The final product does not sound remotely professional, produced, or even edited. The sound quality would not have even “cut it” had these songs been recorded in the 60’s before the use of music technology became a must in the industry. Anyway…back to their services. After they have a product to sell, they list it on Amazon. I have seen other reviewers say that they couldn’t find HillTop Records CD’s anywhere, validating that they ARE indeed a scam. So…it seems that in order to prove that they aren’t a scam, they listed some things on Amazon.

The CD they have listed on Amazon is a compilation CD of Christmas songs, sung by “Hilltop Records Singer”. Ah yes, I’m sure LOTS of people will search for that when they want to purchase a CD.

They took the time to upload one song from the compilation CD, which has a picture of an Asian man on the front of it. The sample song is of a woman singing. The singing is not good. Not good at all.


Click here to listen to HillTop Records on Amazon

There are 2 other CD listings from Hilltop Records. One of these has an image, and the description of the songs directs the buyer to zoom in on the image to see what songs are on the CD. There are no samples to listen to on any of their Amazon listings besides the one song. Oddly, all of these CDs have “only one copy left”.

HillTop Records has even created their own rebuttal, insisting that they are not a scam, that they are a legitimate company doing as they promise. One of Webster’s definitions of “scam” is “A fraudulent business scheme; a swindle.” Webster also defines it as “To swindle, by means of a trick.” Aha! They definitely fall into that second definition of “scam”. And they seem to have their bases covered just enough that they think they don’t fall into the “fraudulent” department…but with enough research, you will see that they are fraudulent.

On their website, they state “Our emphasis is on Production Value, Promotion and Sales”. OK, Production value is objective. Promotion? They want writers to believe that Hilltop will promote the music, but what is being promoted is more Production…so that Hilltop Records can make more profit. Their emphasis certainly isn’t on sales of the product/songs. What they are selling is the service of having your songs recorded at your expense. You won’t make any royalty money, because Hilltop is not promoting your songs to sell them. They are promoting themselves to sell the scam.

You will also see on Hilltop Records’ website that they have Internet Radio. OK, possibly a legitimate way of promoting for the artists, right? No. It isn’t even radio. It has been pre-recorded, and advertises Hilltop Records’ services. We get to listen to a short snip of a song from one of their artists. You can rewind the pre-recording…it’s just an audio track…NOT radio.

On the right hand side of their website, they have artists and their songs with buttons that say “play” and “buy”. If you hit the play button, you will hear about 20 seconds of the song. 10 seconds of intro, and then 10 seconds of the first verse…with the singer not sounding so great and the intro music sounding like a karaoke track from a cheap DJ. Basically, given such a small sample of the song and not even in the chorus part of the song, I would not say that having a song up on their site is worth the $400 they are charging.

I did say that they fall in the “fraud” description too…and here’s how. Their songwriter’s testimonials are fake. If you compare the page that has their written letters of thanks and appreciation with the page that has the list of all their “Hilltop Records Songwriters”, you will find that none of the names match up. NOT ONE of the names that are signed in the testimonials can be found in the list of their songwriters. This is fraud, because it means one of two things. 1. Hilltop Records falsified testimonials, creating a lie and thus a fraudulent trick to make people part with their money or 2. These artists that sent letters of thanks were not included on their list of songwriters, a benefit that these people (if they are indeed real and not falsified people) paid for.

 

Tread carefully musicians…and be sure to research anything that smells fishy.

36 thoughts on “HillTop Records Scam”

    1. Hello Beth, I’m sorry that Hilltop wasn’t the real deal! You are among many musicians who share your feelings. Glad they didn’t get your money.

  1. Hi Sara,

    Received the same thing as the above two have stated, wanted to do my research and glad I did when I found your site here. I am wondering if you have any suggestions on how I would go about getting back the hard score copies of my music I sent them, or is it lost to Hilltop?

    1. Hello Damarvman, Have you tried calling them? I’m not sure if they would send back your hard copies, but I’m sure they would destroy them upon your request, if that helps. – Sara

  2. I received this letter in the mail today…I wasn’t thinking of sending them any songs yet, but had the idea of keeping it for future posibilities just in case. But then I decided to do a little research out of curiosity..well, making things short, the letter has been shredded.

    1. Thanks for leaving a comment Leo, I’m sorry that they got your hopes up too. Sadly, this predatory practice isn’t illegal. I think it should be.

  3. Just got the letter. I really hoped I wouldn’t find something like this on the internet. But, unfortunately, this one of many sites telling me HillTop’s a scam…. It’s really not a good feeling.

  4. I got a letter from them today, and I’m not even a songwriter. I did recently file a screenplay with the Copyright Office though, so I suppose that is how they got my name. I wouldn’t have had any songs to send them anyway, though!

  5. Hey Sara. Just received the letter and contract from hilltop records last week. I’m SO fortunate yo have seen this post. Thx for your much needed help!!!

  6. I wrote three songs: Waiting For Your Love, My Pick-Up Truck and Christmas Eve Celebration. I spend about $1,300.00 and only received $9.00 in royalties. I refuse to send any more song, lyrics and or music/correspondence. In the past I even send a letter to Attorney General Jerry Brown …Now Gov Brown to investigate Hill Top Records. We all need to find an Entertainment Lawyer that is willing to take on Hill Top and maybe the help of major singers, performers and ASCAP and BMI. Hill Top Records is giving the Music Business a ‘Black Eye”. By the way…I am now a music Lyric song writer and Music Publisher. with two bands seeking distribution. I alos have more then 100 songs/lyrics and I am seeking bands/performers to sing my music. The royalties can be divided by BMI or ASCAP.

  7. I know where theri office is in LA and you can not call them…Their phone rings with no one answering it. They are in Vine St. on the corner of Hollywood Blvd and Vine 3rd. floor. Maybe a demonstration in front of the office so to get Media coverage. I mean National Coverage wher BMI and ASCAP are present and the Music Awards folks…++++many others in the music business. like Santana, Red Bone, Aguilera, the American Idol judges, the X-Factor and many more… Hill top needs to be SHUT DOWN!

  8. Thanks for this- I’ve gotten these letters many times and always thought it was fishy. This is the first time I actually looked into it. For me when the letter talks about submitting on a ‘cassette or CD’ – that was the biggest red flag. Cassette????!?

  9. I fell for the scam 5 years ago. Paid to have my song performed. I sent them a stamped address envelope to return my poems. They never returned them even though this is what they said they would do if I pay postage. I contacted them via letter; can’t reach them by phone. They never responded but they did send me another letter/contract wanting to use another one of my poems for an upcoming CD. I didn’t realize they were a scam. But because they didn’t return my property, I had no intentions of dealing with them again. It may not be the best singing, but I like my song. I’m looking for someone to redo it and would love to hear it in Spanish.

  10. Hey Sara
    Thaks for the info, I got the same letter today 4/1/13 word for word from Hilltop by the sound of it I can get a better sound recording using my Mac with the LogicPro8 program, which by the way once I burn it onto CD it does sounds real good all my friends and family love the sound quatily of the music, looks like I’ll be using Audio Jungle, Disk Makers or on my own to get my music out to the world.

  11. Thank you so much for your research, i have submitted a song to Abby Road studios, L.A. Ca. as a contest to win recording software, i thought the Hilltop letter was my music from Abby Road, the same day the scam letter came in my mailbox, a letter from the Library of Congress on copyright protection on the song submitted to Abby. Must be aware of wolfs in sheeps clothing. Thank you again for posting this scam and your time and efforts.

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  13. I as well received the letter. I recently coyrighted a song I wrote to honor the victims of the Shadyhook Conn. shooting. Made a rough demo and everything (not for Hilltop, but for Shadyhook). I posted it on their Friends of Shadyhook Facebook page so naturally, I copyrighted it. Thanks to your great research and information, the little excitement I got is back to normal. I kinda figured, didn’t everyone else that posted here? As unsigned writers and musicians, its great to have others watching our backs. Our eagerness shouldn’t be destroyed with a desperation to be heard. Good luck to everyone on your musical careers.

  14. I HAVE RECEIVED THE SAME SAID LETTER SEVERAL TIMES…..AND LIKE YOU I SEARCHED GOGGLE AND FOUND THE SAME INFO…I WRITE GOSPEL / COUNTRY SONGS, BUT MAINLY FOCUS ON QUARTET GOSPEL….BEWARE SONGWRITERS!!!! I WOULD LOVE TO GET MY SONGS OUT THERE, BUT YOU HAVE TO BE CAREFUL….VERY VERY CAREFUL!!
    I RECORDED 3 OF MY SONGS WITH A LOCAL RECORDING STUDIO AND HAVE THEM ON SOUNDCLOUD.COM. T

  15. OMG, thankyou so much for this insight. I am a longtime songwriter, new to the “business, paperwork and procedure” of this industry and of songwriting. I too recieved this letter in the mail today and everything you said makes complete sense. I immediately sat down in from my computer, refusing to be bamboozled and mislead and went to their website. I saw that the website did not look as professional as I would expect, all of their listed songwriters looked to be in their forties or way older and the featured songwriters song was garbage (excuse me for being blunt, but I take my craft seriously). After having searching in Google how much revenue does HillTop Records generate, I noticed this post, the next credible web listing they have to their own website is their facebook page…bad news. Thankyou for taking out your time to explain this in full.

  16. Glad I saw these comments, I too received a letter from hilltop records, not cool that hilltop does this, ya I agree they should be shutdown.

  17. I knew in my gut that it was a scam when we got the letter but it was fun to celebrate an offer anyway. Thanks for the confirmation!

  18. First off Sara I have to say your music is great! Secondly as a struggling songwriter these leaches tick me off. I received a letter from them as well. I knew it was a scam from the get go(must be the Jersey Boy in me). I posted a comment on their Facebook page stating to any unsuspecting writers that they were a scam. Of course my post was taken down. I guess they didn’t like the fact that I told them they were an insult to the art. It’s hard enough making it in this business. We put every ounce we have into it with the hopes of making it. These leaches take people’s $ & worse their dreams & shatter them. Disgraceful.

    1. Thank you, Mike. I think it’s pretty obvious once you look on their website that they are not the real deal. I feel sorry for all of those artists that were taken advantage of though.
      Good luck with your music!

  19. I am totally bummed. I was excited thinking this letter was finally the real deal, and I googled the company and found this. I also just copyrighted my work from this past year. Ugh! So frustrated! Thank you to all of you who shared your story and saved me a lot of trouble. Lots of luck to you all!

  20. Hey Sara, apparently not only hardworking songwriters and musicians get these letters…other labels get them too! I got one in the mail yesterday and laughed so hard I may have pee’d just a little!!! These idiots don’t even have the class to check their mailing lists before sending out their scam!
    I think I want to send them a “cassette” of some of the absolute worst recordings we have done…and I’m talking the throw away tracks here…and see if they want to publish them on their “new CD Album project”. LOL
    Keep calling out the scumbags… and, keep up the good work!
    Steve

  21. Hahaha! Wow they haven’t changed their ways one bit! Just got one of these letters today and they haven’t “worked with” anyone of note since you got your letter. LOL! Thanks for sharing:)

  22. lmao lmao i got 2 letters today. One for me and one for my Wife. i knew it was a scam! We own a Marketing company in Connecticut, my wife and i record for a hobby. So, to get letters in the mail, out of the clear blue, was a red flag for us. Most of our clients are entertainers, so we kinda have some inside knowledge of how the industry works. And these letters are not how the industry works. No major labels are looking for talent Via snail mail. smh feeling sorry for the people who feel for it.

  23. I am a singer/songwriter, whom just had some more songs sent in for copyright a few weeks ago, and today, I received the same letter. I like you got excited until I googled Hill Top Records. The address it’s from, Hollywood and Vine, really got me excited, but just like the scam artists in Nashville, they’re usually right on the famous streets, waiting for their next victim. By the way, I was wondering who you use for your website host. It looks great and I’ve been searching for one to sell my music. Thanks so much for posting. You’re great! Diana

  24. Thanks for the info and for doing youre homework on this.. Youre awesome!!

    Just one thing: Some of the greatest rock music was recorded in the 60s. Im not sure I agree that the use of music technology wasnt a must, I think that was what they had to work with, and what was done was phenomenal, eg. The Beatles, Hendrix, the list goes on…

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