Big Companies, Economics, Industry News, Traditional Media

Payola Gets Whacked!

Living in the world of independent and non-commercial media (plus having podcasts and online radio and a lot more to choose from than I did pre-Web in Midwest USA), I gradually lost passion for what I ranted about during my younger years: all that crap that’s on the radio! I’ve always firmly believed that the majority of music aired over the Clear Channels of the world would not be popular at all in a democratized system, because there’s so much great music out there that Britney Spears and P Puffy Diddy Daddy have nothing to do with. But in a payola-friendly industry, the almighty dollar and shady middlemen rule the school. Now here’s the good word:

“Four major broadcast companies would pay the government $12.5 million and provide 8,400 half-hour segments of free airtime for independent record labels and local artists, The Associated Press has learned.”

This is a step in the right direction, for sure. Really, though, payola-type activities happen on all levels; I can’t remember all the times in my college radio days I was bribed into pushing a band into the Top 30 for some free tickets, merch, etc. — and we were a small market station in Nebraska (#174)! Think of the pressures on employees of larger market (NYC, LA) stations, even noncommercial stations, pressure that typically came from larger labels (Elektra, Interscope come to mind) to promote bands that released records on the smaller labels they had gobbled up. And even small promotional companies played the game, the bribery, and it became sickening after a while. I suppose it’s a fine line between using creative ways to promote your client and buying airtime for your client.


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