hope the link works -- Eliot Spitzer, NY AG, will be investigating the independent promoter radio/label arrangement. I have to say, Spitzer's ambition is so naked that it's a little embarrassing, but I love his politics and his choice of targets. I think this is an overdue investigation -- even if it leads to negligible enforcement or litigation, I imagine the panic within the industry will force some changes regardless.
― Hurlothrumbo (hurlothrumbo), Friday, 22 October 2004 15:27 (sixteen years ago) link
not to equate the two in any kind of moral, ethical or any other way, but i don't think you can stop payola any more than you can stop free downloading and filesharing. for half a century at least, journalists and legislators and g-men have continually bitched about payola, and for half a century at least record companies and radio stations have continually found new ways to do it.
― fact checking cuz (fcc), Friday, 22 October 2004 16:08 (sixteen years ago) link
― peepee (peepee), Friday, 22 October 2004 16:45 (sixteen years ago) link
Of course, I kind of agree about radio -- but I like the idea that dismantling the current payola system could lead to a period of lots of novelty hits on mainstream radio. I, for one, welcome the possibility of a year or two of "Macarena Boogaloo" and "Can't Get the Dogs Back In" and other mindless crap that people would actually like, but the current promoter monopoly would never let happen. Yeah, I'm a crazy optimist who misses Green Jello.
― Hurlothrumbo (hurlothrumbo), Friday, 22 October 2004 17:07 (sixteen years ago) link
― Hurting (Hurting), Friday, 22 October 2004 21:51 (sixteen years ago) link
― fact checking cuz (fcc), Friday, 22 October 2004 21:55 (sixteen years ago) link
― max davenport (axehead), Monday, 25 October 2004 02:28 (sixteen years ago) link
― teeny (teeny), Monday, 25 July 2005 19:06 (fifteen years ago) link
"• Contest giveaways for stations' listening audiences;
• Payments for "spin programs," airplay under the guise of advertising."
I wonder if this sets any kind precedent that could have an effect in other areas of the media.
― walter kranz (walterkranz), Monday, 25 July 2005 21:23 (fifteen years ago) link
In Australia at least, even the community radio stations do this as a matter of course. You can buy yourself Album of the Week etc. This is bad news for small record co's with tiny budgets.
― moley, Monday, 25 July 2005 21:26 (fifteen years ago) link
― crown victoria (dymaxia), Monday, 25 July 2005 21:34 (fifteen years ago) link
― Banana Nutrament (ghostface), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 09:09 (fifteen years ago) link
― Keith C (kcraw916), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 12:03 (fifteen years ago) link
Haha, the reason millions of people like Pop Artist X really isn't necessarily because they're so good/fun/danceable/sexy/interesting non-shocka.
Is the NY AG's office full of corny indie fuxx, I suppose?
― marc h. (marc h.), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 12:24 (fifteen years ago) link
― David R. (popshots75`), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 13:19 (fifteen years ago) link
― David R. (popshots75`), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 13:21 (fifteen years ago) link
― David R. (popshots75`), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 13:25 (fifteen years ago) link
― Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 13:26 (fifteen years ago) link
― Keith C (kcraw916), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 13:29 (fifteen years ago) link
And, really, in terms of business and $$$ playing a part in getting popular music exposure: see Alfred's yawn. Alan Freed and Dick Clark were fingered in payola scandals, the Behind The Scenes episode about Styx snuck in a brief little payola story (yay Chicago!), and Interscope was dabbling in "legal" payola when they bought ad time on stations (in the northwestern US?) to promote the bejeezus out of Limp Bizkit. And no doubt there are other stories.
But, y'know (and this is where I piggyback Marc's point), folks have to actually LIKE the song in order to buy it and make the payola worth a damn - I imagine there are just as many stories about labels throwing money out there in the service of a band that goes nowhere fast. It's not like getting on the radio guarantees success, and it's definitely not like bombarding Listener X with Song Y for a month will automatically induce a case of musical Stockholm Syndrome.
― David R. (popshots75`), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 13:39 (fifteen years ago) link
Take Jennifer Lopez's awful record, "Get Right," with its shrill horn and lifted rap. It's now clear that was a "bought" sensation when it was released last winter. So, too, were her previous "hits" "I'm Glad" and "I'm Real," according to the memos. All were obtained by Sony laying out dough and incentives. It's no surprise. There isn't a person alive who could hum any of those "songs" now. Not even J-Lo herself.
― marc h. (marc h.), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 13:42 (fifteen years ago) link
― Keith C (kcraw916), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 14:00 (fifteen years ago) link
Did DeRo contribute his spew to that investigation?
― I Can Hum "I'm Real" Juuuust Fine, Tanks (popshots75`), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 14:00 (fifteen years ago) link
― j blount (papa la bas), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 14:02 (fifteen years ago) link
― Douglas (Douglas), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 14:05 (fifteen years ago) link
And while, yeah, the industry's changed and the deck's stacked against an indie breaking on the radio (nevermind the payola hoohah - I don't remember there being a plethora of indie-friendly radio formats out there), maybe that's just a sign that indies should switch to a different game (which I'm guessing has already happened).
Also, yeah, what blount said (which was assumed in what I was babbling about, but not explicit enough that y'all would know that's what I meant).
― David R. (popshots75`), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 14:08 (fifteen years ago) link
― Keith C (kcraw916), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 14:12 (fifteen years ago) link
David that's a really optimistic thing to say!
Alan Freed to thread. yawn.-- Alfred Soto (sotoal...), July 26th, 2005. (later)
So, wait...your point is "this happened once before/has continued happening, therefore I am quite bored by it"?
― Banana Nutrament (ghostface), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 14:20 (fifteen years ago) link
― j blount (papa la bas), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 14:24 (fifteen years ago) link
keith show me where anyone sez anything you're attributing to anyone.
― j blount (papa la bas), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 14:28 (fifteen years ago) link
Sure, there are several channels that people are starting to use together in indie and especially "adult alternative" - AAA radio (especially on NPR, through music shows or even on All Things Considered), Starbucks/Hear Music (not necessarily to sell whole LPs but to get on samplers or the in-store radio - where I've heard Nina Nastasia, Sufjan Stevens and Boards of Canada), word-of-mouth, indie and AAA publications (Pitchfork or Paste -cough-), the New York Times, etc. There are plenty of outlets, and the customer also gets the feeling that he's getting a higher grade product than you find on your stereotypical ClearChannel station.
― save the robot (save the robot), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 14:30 (fifteen years ago) link
― save the robot (save the robot), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 14:32 (fifteen years ago) link
Banana: I am all sunshine & lollipops!
(Jive!! Are they still indy, or are they a subsidiary of Sony or some junk?)
And I was wondering when Save The Robot was gonna pop onto this thread!
― David R. (popshots75`), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 14:32 (fifteen years ago) link
― save the robot (save the robot), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 14:34 (fifteen years ago) link
To use an analogy. If I give you a tasteless little cracker with your meal every few meals, and I do this for several months, you're going to develop a fondness for the cracker, unless you outright hated it to begin with. "So what"? Well, ok, if you say so, but I'd be interested in knowing what the charts would look like if radio stations played what their programmers & DJs liked & what listeners requested. I supposed this is a terribly antiquated interest.
― Banana Nutrament (ghostface), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 14:41 (fifteen years ago) link
― j blount (papa la bas), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 14:46 (fifteen years ago) link
― Tumililingan (ex machina), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 14:47 (fifteen years ago) link
― Keith C (kcraw916), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 14:52 (fifteen years ago) link
― j blount (papa la bas), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 14:52 (fifteen years ago) link
Franz Ferdinand, Jessica Simpson, J-Lo, Good Charlotte, etc. Not exactly The Who, Carly Simon, Aretha Franklin or The Kinks. The "classic" is certainly gone from rock.
― Tumililingan (ex machina), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 14:53 (fifteen years ago) link
And as for me (and I'd like to think this applies to lots of listeners of all stripes) (damn my optimism) - even if I find something likeable [sp?] in a song I hate, that doesn't mean I actually like the song and go spend $$$ on it.
And, yeah, I think the Baha Men are the indie kings. (I think Wind-Up is independant, too?)
― David R. (popshots75`), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 14:55 (fifteen years ago) link
OTM. It's not that listeners are being forced to like things that they wouldn't otherwise like. The point is that labels are forced into what's basically an extortion racket in order to get their music on the radio and those who can't pay are shut out of the game.
― walter kranz (walterkranz), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 15:00 (fifteen years ago) link
― j blount (papa la bas), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 15:07 (fifteen years ago) link
― yuengling participle (rotten03), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 15:32 (fifteen years ago) link
So if there's a copper in your neighborhood, and he's going after too many criminals, you're starting to feel mighty embarassed about him, huh? Boy, that copper must really be full of himself -- he must be contemplating a gubernatorial run, that one.
― Rob Upt1ght, Tuesday, 26 July 2005 15:40 (fifteen years ago) link
What was it that Tom Ewing once said about this kinda thing? Something like: "Name one unmediated emotion. EXACTLY."
― Michael Daddino (epicharmus), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 15:43 (fifteen years ago) link
That's an interesting theory. You would think that the corporate behemoths in the industry now would have a bit more power to clean out the mob element than they did in the "Hit Men" days. On the other hand I suppose a company like Clear Channel is just a different set of gangsters who are more powerful and better organized this time around.
― walter kranz (walterkranz), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 15:45 (fifteen years ago) link
― Michael Daddino (epicharmus), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 15:53 (fifteen years ago) link
After a considerable amount of time away from the music scene, Lopez finally released her fourth studio album, Rebirth, on March 1, 2005. Debuting at #2 on the Billboard 200 to initially decent sales success, the album quickly fell off the charts and remains to be Lopez's biggest commercial (not to mention critical) failure yet. Despite this, the album has so-far spawned one hit in "Get Right", which reached the top twenty [#12, in fact]; still, compared to her previous high-charting singles, even this can be seen as somewhat of a flop. The second single, "Hold You Down", which featured Fat Joe, only barely made it into the top 75, peaking at #64. It has recently been confirmed that J. Lo's next single will be "Whatever You Wanna Do", which will supposedly brings more vibe and hype than "Get Right".
― Michael Daddino (epicharmus), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 16:13 (fifteen years ago) link
The writing is fairly dry, so I can't wholeheartedly recommend the book unless you're deeply interested in the topic. Instead, I'll just summarize it:
1) payola has always been around in some form (1880's version: pluggers who would barge into a bar unnanounced and play the song on the piano)
2) the "type" of payola changes all the time (money, drugs, favours, parties, etc.)
3) there have been several big payola scandals, but each time a scandal breaks, everybody acts surprised anyway
To use an analogy. If I give you a tasteless little cracker with your meal every few meals, and I do this for several months, you're going to develop a fondness for the cracker, unless you outright hated it to begin with.
One upon a time, this was me with respect to beer.
― MindInRewind (Barry Bruner), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 16:30 (fifteen years ago) link
― David R. (popshots75`), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 17:07 (fifteen years ago) link
!! That's great! Now I'm picturing 2 pluggers going at it at separate ends of the bar, soundclash-style.
Shit - that was me w/ respect to vegetables!
So you're saying: kids, listen to your J. Lo because, whether you like it or not, it's good for you?
― walter kranz (walterkranz), Tuesday, 26 July 2005 17:24 (fifteen years ago) link
I think the payola issue does have a bearing on popist claims (those of Tom Ewing, for example, to give a non strawman example), at least to the extent that payola limits the range of what people are able to hear (without a lot of effort).
― Rockist_Scientist (RSLaRue), Wednesday, 27 July 2005 11:59 (fifteen years ago) link
There must be other nefarious practices taking place around the great state of New York that are having a more direct impact on residents' quality of life. Could it be that he thought that dropping names like Celine Dion and Don Henley would attract publicity that would help his 2006 gubernatorial campaign? Surely that can't be it.
Let's turn to the press release itself to see if we can glean some sort of motivation for this investigation:
"Our investigation shows that, contrary to listener expectations that songs are selected for airplay based on artistic merit and popularity, air time is often determined by undisclosed payoffs to radio stations and their employees," Spitzer said.
"Contrary to listener expectations" ?!?! Seriously, who here thought that the songs that get played on the big commercial radio stations were chosen based on artistic merit? We're not talking about WFMU, after all. And as for popularity, well, a glance at our DJs' playlists will confirm that's not a requirement for airplay here. But even if that is what those listeners expected, is that really enough justification for such a large-scale invetigation?
― Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:52 (fifteen years ago) link
Re: listener expectations. i don't think the common listener is as knowledgeable as you and i. your office listener doesn't know what's being paid for (hell, most people here probably don't know exactly which tracks), why certain songs are being played more regularly than others, what the hell "merit" even is. stations' playlists are a mix bag of actual hits and what amounts to paid advertisements. payola's gonna pop back up again in 10 years, sure, it'll pop up tomorrow. but i think a more full-discolsure approach to listeners is what licensed stations owe their audience.
― katie, a princess (katie, a princess), Thursday, 28 July 2005 15:40 (fifteen years ago) link
LOOSE LIPS HELP SPITZ SINK BMG
By TIM ARANGO July 31, 2005 -- On The Money
How's this for unlucky in love?
A Sony Music promo exec unknowingly sparked Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's major payola investigation when he started hitting on a woman at a poolside bar at a Miami hotel last year.
The exec bragged about some of the excesses in his line of business, according to chatter in music industry circles.
The executive must have felt pretty good, as the attentive woman probably hung on his every word. He must have thought he was spinning a Gold Record.
But not so fast.
It turns out the woman who was the object of his affection worked in Spitzer's office.
Nearly a year — and many subpoenas later — SonyBMG was forced last week to cough up $10 million after Spitzer found evidence that promotion executives routinely bribed radio programmers to play their music, a violation of so-called payola laws.
The poolside encounter explains why the payola probe zeroed in on Sony first, say sources.
With SonyBMG having settled, the three other major music companies — Universal Music, Warner Music Group and EMI — are waiting for their turn to write multimillion dollar checks to Spitzer.
Don't know whether the unnamed exec got her number, but one thing is for sure: She got his.
― teeny (teeny), Monday, 1 August 2005 18:04 (fifteen years ago) link
― Banana Nutrament (ghostface), Monday, 1 August 2005 19:32 (fifteen years ago) link
― teeny (teeny), Tuesday, 2 August 2005 18:11 (fifteen years ago) link
― Keith C (kcraw916), Tuesday, 2 August 2005 19:00 (fifteen years ago) link
"No programmer wants to draw attention by choosing songs too far outside the mainstream," said Calococci, who says fear of regulatory scrutiny has made radio executives less willing to play emerging bands. Calococci still plays new music, he said, but "Spitzer has put a chill on everything."
I'm out of the biz now so I don't have any idea whether this could be true but I kinda think it's just programmers being dicks.
― teeny (teeny), Monday, 10 April 2006 13:54 (fifteen years ago) link
Radio Stations Play It Safe Amid Legal ProbeProgrammers choose to air fewer new tunes lest they be accused of taking bribes for airtime.By Charles DuhiggTimes Staff Writer
April 8, 2006
Last summer, before New York Atty. Gen. Eliot Spitzer revealed his first settlements with the music industry over allegations of illegal payments for airplay, the man who picks songs for L.A.'s KKBT-FM (100.3) started each week enthusiastically brainstorming about what new tunes to add to his playlist.
Today, KKBT's program director, Tom Calococci, still brainstorms. But he feels pressure to take fewer creative risks.
Spitzer's inquiry, which alleged that music companies illegally paid radio programmers to play certain songs, was intended to make the airwaves more of a meritocracy. Without such "pay for play," Spitzer argued, consumers would hear the music that programmers liked best, rather than tunes that the major record labels bribed deejays to air.
But Spitzer's crusade may be having the opposite effect. Many programmers say that fear of regulatory scrutiny has scared them into airing fewer new songs. Instead, many stations are sticking to older, more tried-and-true tunes that seem less likely to prompt speculation that money changed hands.
Indeed, research shows that listeners are hearing fewer new songs on the radio today than they were a year ago. In the first quarter of 2006, "active rock" stations added 23% fewer new songs to their playlists than during the same period in 2005, according to trade publication Radio & Records. Pop stations added 14% fewer songs, additions on urban/hip-hop stations dropped 16% and the number of new songs played by "adult contemporary" stations fell 17%.
Those declines occurred even as the number of album releases increased, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
"These are really big drops," said Cyndee Maxwell, a Radio & Records executive who helped survey more than 860 radio stations. "I've never seen decreases that big."
In the wake of Spitzer's probe, radio companies have launched internal inquiries and, in instances of wrongdoing, fired and reprimanded scores of programmers. Almost every radio chain has instituted new policies regarding gifts and payments. And the Federal Communications Commission has launched its own investigation to determine whether radio companies should lose their broadcast licenses if evidence of corruption exists.
That's left many programmers with the impression that if their names are so much as mentioned in connection with pay-for-play, their jobs will be at risk.
More than a dozen radio programmers interviewed for this article — almost all of whom requested anonymity because they feared that discussing pay-for-play would endanger their jobs — said the slowdown in airing new songs wasn't official policy. Rather, it is a precaution that individual programmers are taking to avoid raising suspicion about their motives.
"I don't want anyone to look at my playlists six months from now and speculate about why I added a particular song when our competition didn't add it," one programmer said. "People have been fired for less."
That sentiment is typical, say industry insiders.
"There is an overall fear among programmers that I've never encountered before," said Steven Strick, who compiles data on rock stations for Radio & Records. "These investigations by Spitzer and the FCC cast suspicion on almost everything. How stations choose music has changed in a fundamental way."
To be sure, the recent shift is part of a broader trend toward homogenization and repetitive airplay that has been underway for the last decade as station ownership has consolidated. But programmers say those shifts have accelerated in the last six months, after Spitzer's investigations were revealed.
What's more, stations are now less willing to participate in legitimate promotions such as concert ticket giveaways and contests that are popular with listeners.
"If I want to accept 25 CDs to give away on air, I have to forward paperwork all the way up to the vice president," said Bill Weston, program director at WMMR-FM (93.3) in Philadelphia, where new policies about gifts and promotions have been drafted. "The new rules take forever. It's hardly worth the trouble."
All this worries record companies and music aficionados. Radio is one of the few media that can introduce audiences to new music and spur huge album sales. Changes in how stations choose songs can directly affect which musical genres survive and how many up-and-coming bands record labels sign, executives say.
Many independent musicians also are worried. Small labels applauded Spitzer's inquiry because they believed it would level the playing field.
But now "it's for sure harder to get our songs played on radio," said Susan Busch, head of radio promotions at Sub Pop Records. Despite relatively well-selling new albums by Band of Horses and Wolf Parade, Busch hasn't had much luck with radio stations.
"The investigations have put a scare into programmers," she said. "Before they squeezed in our songs. But so few new songs are getting added that we really stick out now. And no one wants to do anything that sticks out."
Spitzer's investigators acknowledge the chilling effect, though they predict that shrinking playlists will be only a temporary consequence of their inquiries.
"We've seen this in other industries we've investigated," said Darren Dopp, a spokesman for Spitzer. "There's a moment where everyone is frozen with self-examination, and then things improve. These reforms will eventually expand opportunities for artists."
Spitzer's investigations have already accomplished some of the reforms he sought. Record labels, two of which have paid fines totaling $15 million, have revamped their promotion practices. So-called independent promoters, who once collected tens of millions of dollars every year as middlemen between music labels and radio stations, have effectively gone belly up.
Major radio companies, meanwhile, have sought to make their playlists harder for the music companies to track. For example, Cox Radio Inc. and Cumulus Broadcasting Inc. have prohibited their programmers from informing publications such as Radio & Records about what songs they have added to playlists.
But at least for awhile, the effect that will be most obvious to listeners is a growing sameness in playlists that sound increasingly stale.
The other day, when employees at a Los Angeles radio station gathered to choose new songs, the effect of Spitzer's crusade was undeniable.
One employee raved about a new tune from an album released last week by the band the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The record has drawn positive reviews, the employee explained, and label Interscope Records was hoping the station would help make the group a hit.
But the station's chief programmer, who confirmed this account but requested anonymity for fear of drawing scrutiny, decided to pass.
"Let some other station take the risk," he told the group. "I don't want some investigator asking to see my e-mails because I took a chance on a song I liked."
― teeny (teeny), Monday, 10 April 2006 13:55 (fifteen years ago) link
― hank (hank s), Monday, 10 April 2006 16:03 (fifteen years ago) link
― Fight the Real Enemy -- Tasti D-Lite (ex machina), Monday, 10 April 2006 16:06 (fifteen years ago) link
― Eppy (Eppy), Monday, 10 April 2006 16:21 (fifteen years ago) link
― sleeve, Wednesday, 2 October 2019 21:54 (one year ago) link