Monday, April 03, 2006

possible payola settlements?

i've posted before about investigations into payola in the radio biz and record that have settled in response to lawsuits from new york attorney general eliot spitzer. payola is, at its most basic, the illegal practice of paying radio stations to air particular music, and in the days of industry consolidation it's big business.

abc news has the latest: now the FCC has started its own investigations, and some corporations are talking about settling.

Four major radio conglomerates under investigation for demanding payment to play records have engaged in settlement talks with the Federal Communications Commission, sources at the regulatory body tell ABC News.

The largest radio conglomerate, Clear Channel, made an offer so low that it was "laughable," FCC and record industry sources said. According to one high-level FCC source, Clear Channel began the discussions with an offer of $500,000, but moved toward $1 million when its offer was rebuffed. The FCC source says Clear Channel has now suggested a willingness to settle in the $1.5 to $3 million range. The source said two other radio conglomerates, Entercom and Citadel, have made offers of $1 million each. CBS radio has yet to make an offer, a source familiar with the FCC talks said.

but just because the FCC has gotten into the game doesn't mean that spitzer is out of play:

One company that Spitzer filed suit against last month, Entercom, owns and operates 105 radio stations, including seven stations in Buffalo and four in Rochester.

Attorney General Spitzer filed a lawsuit against Entercom on March 8 making it the first radio conglomerate to be sued as part of the investigation. The lawsuit charges Entercom with trading airtime for gifts and payments. The suit seeks an end to the alleged practices, reforms to ensure that air play is determined by artistic merit and popularity, and appropriate fines and penalties. Entercom has said the company is cooperating with the investigation.

Entercom is one of the nine largest radio conglomerate companies that are under investigation as reported in the "Primetime" investigation that aired in February. According to music industry documents, payments to radio stations in a variety of forms have helped launch some of the country's best-known hits and Grammy winners, including "Daughters," last year's Grammy winner for song of the year, and last year's best new artist Grammy winner, Maroon 5.

While the songs became hugely popular, it apparently was not just popularity and talent that got them such heavy radio airplay.

i wasn't familiar with entercom (as i am with clear channel or cbs radio) so i looked 'em up online. according to their markets page they own three stations in indianapolis: WZPL, 107.9 "the track", and newstalk 1430AM. i wasn't familiar with citadel either, but according to the markets page of their crappy website that doesn't work in firefox, they own stations in muncie and kokomo.

i highly recommend the whole article, especially if you're not that familiar with the payola story. but even if you are, there's good stuff here, including a photo gallery of artists whose music has allegedly been given airplay in exchange for bribes and a couple videos that i have not watched but probably have some good content.

in case you're not into articles and bulleted lists are more your thing (in which case, why are you reading a blog that seems to be set to "maximum verbosity" like this one?), here is a list of the artists who are named in the article (and related articles) as having received payola'd airplay:

  • celine dion
  • franz ferdinand
  • good charlotte
  • jennifer lopez
  • jessica simpson
  • maroon 5
  • michelle branch
  • switchfoot
  • john mayer
  • REM
  • avril lavigne
  • liz phair
  • gretchen wilson

i can't say i'm very surprised by any of those names. maybe a little surprised by REM, but then their popularity has dropped a lot in the last 10 years, so it's not too surprising their label would think they needed some promotional help.

1 comment:

syntax said...

yeah, it's too bad that you can't actually type in "verbose" at the prompt on the front page of some blogs.

or even "kill troll with sword".

wouldn't that be cool? typing "kill troll with sword" somewhere in the url like an inline active server or a php call right before you visit, say, free republic?