Tuesday, November 22, 2005

warner settles payola probe

back in july, i wrote:

it's been a dirty secret in the music industry for years that practically the only way to get music on corporate radio stations these days is bribe someone. in the business it's known as independent promotion, or by the more scandalous name payola. sometimes they bribe the radio djs, but more often, i think, they bribe the program manager for the station. the practice was supposedly done away with decades ago, the last time someone investigated the practice, but it never really went away; it just transmogrified into a new form.

at the time, new york attorney general eliot spitzer had his first major victory in his ongoing payola investigation: sony bmg had just settled with him and agreed to stop all independent promotion. (now, sony is in the middle of a newer, probably even bigger scandal, the ever-ballooning sony rootkit scandal. see all three parts of boingboing's "sony rootkit roundup" for all the latest on this massive story.)

today, there's a new development in spitzer's investigation: warner music has agreed to stop its payola practices, in addition to a $5 million settlement (sony bmg paid $10 million):

Warner Music Group Corp. will pay $5 million to settle a payola probe by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, becoming the second company to resolve allegations of bribing radio station programmers to get airplay.

Warner, the world's fourth-largest record distributor, agreed to stop giving payoffs and gratuities, including electronics and tickets for air fare, concerts and sporting events, Spitzer said in a statement today. The $5 million will be distributed by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors to non-profit groups in the state, he said.

the major labels are corrupt to the core, and it's catching up with them.

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