Artists need to realize that there are many sharks that set up boiler room operations just like in big corporate schemes with contests and auditions. There are so many companies out here trying to make a bitch out of you (if you are one of the first artists they contact). They will draw you into their web, snare you, and convince you to bring other artists along for the ride, only to trick you into signing your life away, do nothing for you at all, or "create" a few appearances for you (studio, club, concert, etc.).. Remember, they may already have received your contestant or audition fee, so they no longer need you, unless it is to attract other artists to pay that fee.
They look good, smell good, drive good, eat well, and dress good, but they are not there for you to like them, they are there praying you walk right into their trap. I know you are anxious and hungry, but you have also got to be smart about it. Just because someone is pushing a big body Benz, wearing an Italian suit, "talks the talk and walks the walk", you artists keep making the same mistake by thinking that this guy in this suit with all the money in the world is your ticket to becoming successful. Get out of the house or your basement studio, and go to some conferences and industry events and you will definitely find them there.
Now don't go run out and start passing around that someone named Lady Phoenix told me that all contests and auditions are scams. There are some legitimate contests and companies out there; you just have to weed through them all to get to the good ones. Ask for references. Have them show you artists they have worked with in the past, and what they have done for them. You need to know or have a working knowledge of what is being said to you by any professional in this industry. It is the only way to guarantee yourself that you won't be ripped off or used.
DO NOT WAIT until after you have signed because they threw some money, jewelry, a wardrobe, and other things at you, only to find our later down the road that you were misled and being ripped off. Have them checked out by the Better Business Bureau. Just put your thinking cap on and be aware. TIGHTEN UP OUT THERE!!!!!!