Anti-Payola Settlement Gives Indie Artists Radio Time.

Payola didn't die with Alan Freed if you're new to this topic.  It is still thriving in 2007.  If you've ever wondered about the quality of the music you listen to on the radio, you're not alone. It's simple, its air time has been paid for by the people that produce it.  The big labels pay with cash, prostitutes, cars, free trips etc. for radio station programmers to put thier music on the air.  This has been done with a independent contractor called a radio promoter which functioned as a middleman in recent years in order to insulate the big labels from allegations of payola which has been illegal since the days of Alan Freed.  

The big four record labels have so much money that the music they produce doesn't have to be good, just average enough with a lot of money behind it to push it through to the listener.  If the listener ever thought that DJs just played what they like and payola was a thing of the past, that listener would be wrong.  It is still very much alive and kicking in 2007.  If the music lover isn't actively seeking out good music, someone from BMG and Sony will pick it out for them.   The listener can either be told what they like, or they can decide what they like for themselves.  In an ideal world, there would be filters in place such as a DJ that has good taste and is informed about music selecting cuts from indie artists that have promise and playing them on the air.  That system has been corrupted and circumvented for many years replacing musical taste with money. 

Luckily, since the advent of the internet, the listener has been able to become their own filter, and the indie artist has been able to bypass the corrupt system of music promotion bringing their music directly to the listener.  Even established commercial artists are dumping their labels in favor of  The fact that for the most part, the music that has been foisted upon the public under the current regime of music promotion has been mediocre is attested to by the declining record sales of the major labels as people search out alternatives and take control over their own music tastes on the internet.

I'm sure all this payola nonsense isn't a revelation for many, but here's something that's being done to rectify the problem. At most it's a start, and at the very least it's a tacit admission that a lot of very good music has been kept off the air waves for a long time by those with deep pockets.

- march 7, 2007
Local artists and independent record labels will be getting more airplay in the near future all thanks in part to an anti-payola settlement between the government and four major broadcast companies.

According to the Associated Press, Clear Channel Communications, CBS Radio, Entercom Communications and Citadel Broadcasting, which together own more than 1,500 radio stations, agreed to pay $12.5 million in fines to end an investigation into payola and put an end to the practice.

As part of the agreement, all four broadcasters will provide 8,400 half-hour segments of free airtime to independent record labels and local artists. The free airtime would be granted to companies not owned or controlled by the nation's four dominant music labels -
Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group and EMI Group.

All the afomentioned major labels have been involved in the payola scandals which they resolved with multi-million settlements in the past two years.

In addition to airplay, the broadcasters and the independent labels have also negotiated a set of "rules of engagement" that will guide how record company representatives and radio programmers interact. The new "rules of engagement" are aimed at requiring equal access to radio music programmers for all record companies as well as transparency in their dealings.

"It's absolutely the most historic agreement that the independent community has had with radio," Peter Gordon, CEO of Thirsty Ear Recordings; an independent record label, told the AP. "Without a doubt, nothing else comes close."

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