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> Record Labels Pay For Play, Payola?
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gtrplr 
Posted: 11-Jun-2004, 04:21 PM
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I'm wasn't sure which forum to put this in, so I'll put it here. MacFive, please let me know if you think this isn't the proper forum. It is music related, but not to HR.
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During a single week in May, Canadian pop rocker Avril Lavigne's new song Don't Tell Me aired no fewer than 109 times on Nashville radio station WQZQ-FM.

The heaviest rotation came between midnight and 6 a.m., an on-air no man's land visited largely by insomniacs, truckers and graveyard shift workers. On one Sunday morning, the three-minute, 24-second song aired 18 times, sometimes as little as 11 minutes apart.

Those plays, or "spins," helped Don't Tell Me vault into the elite top 10 on Billboard magazine's national pop radio chart, which radio program directors across the country use to spot hot new tunes.

But what many chart watchers may not know is that the predawn saturation in Nashville ? and elsewhere ? occurred largely because Arista Records paid the station to play the song as an advertisement. In all, sources said, WQZQ aired Don't Tell Me as an ad at least 40 times the week ending May 23, accounting for more than one-third of the song's airplay on the station.

The Don't Tell Me campaign is part of the latest craze in record promotion, a high-pressure part of the music business in which the labels try to influence which songs reach the air.

In the late 1950s, rock's earliest days, the industry was hit by a series of payola scandals in which cash bribes were paid to disc jockeys who agreed to play certain songs. That practice was subsequently outlawed, prompting record companies to find more subtle means of currying favor with radio programmers, such as free junkets and concert tickets.

In the latest twist, it's the radio stations themselves that have been reaching out to the labels, offering to play songs in the form of ads, often in the early morning hours when there tends to be an excess inventory of airtime. The practice is legal as long as the station makes an on-air disclosure of the label's sponsorship ? typically with an introduction such as "And now, Avril Lavigne's Don't Tell Me, presented by Arista Records."

To be sure, Don't Tell Me is a bona fide hit, even without spins being bought and paid for. Radio stations must play a song many thousands of times for it to crack the Billboard top 10. Nonetheless, a few hundred spins here and there can move a song up a place or two in the rankings ? and ensure that it is climbing rather than falling on the charts.

Playing songs as advertising makes "the chart unreliable," said Garett Michaels, program director of San Diego rock station KBZT-FM. "Basically, the radio station isn't playing a song because they believe in it. They're playing it because they're being paid."

All five major record corporations have at least dabbled in the sales programs, industry sources said, with some reportedly paying as much as $60,000 in advertising fees to promote a single song.

Interscope Records has purchased spins for the Black Eyed Peas' song Hey Mama in recent weeks, as well as for Sheryl Crow's The First Cut Is the Deepest and Sugababes' Hole in the Head, sources said. Virgin Records has bought advertising time for rock band A Perfect Circle. Lava Records has purchased airplay for singer Cherie, and V2 Records has done the same for Katy Rose.

Representatives for the record labels declined to comment.

But one label executive who has purchased airplay, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the idea was clearly to prop up songs long enough for them to attract genuine fans.

"In our business, perception is reality," he said. "The minute you're down in spins, these program directors drop the record."

By JEFF LEEDS
Los Angeles Times


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Haldur 
Posted: 11-Jun-2004, 04:55 PM
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This does not surprise me in the least gtrplr! In fact, I don't listen to radio
anymore because it is quite clearly "the Clear Channel" radio now!

It proves how much the record industry is turning into a spinning juggernaut of money, lies, and lawlessness. I can attest to this because for years (at least 5 or 6) the primary radio station in my hometown of Morehead, KY has played Avril Lavigne, 3 Doors Down, Cheryl Crow, and countless others back to back almost seemlessly.

As a matter of fact, about a couple of weeks ago I was visiting my mom (because I live in Winchester, KY right now, about 45 miles away) and heard the same song twice, one right after the other...mind you, the same song which I believe was Beyonce or something TWICE!

It churned my stomach to think about it but for years people in Morehead have complained about the local radio station, which is actually a carrier station for a group up in Indiana, and the local station has done nothing at all to change their lineup which consists of some new stuff intermingled with some weird 80's stuff that is mostly obscure and hard to listen to! The thing is, quite simply, that the local station is nothing but a puppet for a bigger station somewhere in Indianapolis.

In my opinion, radio and especially the music industry are pulling up their bootstraps after flunking in the past with this same solution for their woes. File sharing, CD burning, and other online/technological advances are slowing down their sales. Not to mention, most artists nowadays are starting their own publishing/recording companies in order to bypass the sugar-coated wolf in sheep's clothing that is the record industry. Keep in mind that the artists aren't the ones effected by file sharing and all, it's their higher-ups. And when the higher ups get hungry, there's nothing the artists can do but follow suit. Heck, the artists are making plenty by touring and signing deals and contracts...the industry itself is corrupt and heading for an all-out mutiny!

I choose to not listen to the radio because you can never tune into any music because it is constantly interrupted by the same annoying commercials and is the same annoying music! I suggest getting XM and finding sites that have streaming radio (such as this site!) in order to find happiness in radio!


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gtrplr 
Posted: 11-Jun-2004, 05:37 PM
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I don't listen much to radio these days either. Maybe a little talk radio in the car. At work, it's HR, whenever possible.

If you'll check some of my other postings, I think you'll find we're in agreement on most of these points, Haldur.
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PoniesRGr8 
  Posted: 13-Jun-2004, 06:29 PM
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I studied this type of thing in my Media Arts and Design class last semester. Although it sickens me, there is no denying that schemes like this are prevalent in today's music industry. It's sad because, since Clear Channel's dominance over radio is so widespread, it makes it virtually impossible for an independent artist to get their material played on a Clear Channel owned station. Clear Channel's philosophy seems to be "If it is a guaranteed profit for us, we will play it, otherwise, the risk of supporting a lesser known artist is too great a risk" Even if thousands of people were to call in and request a song, if CC didn't deem it to be a profit-making venture, the song wouldn't be played. Their way of doing business is all wrong, because as we all know, some of the world's most talented artists are those who remain "undiscovered" by mainstream radio. That's why I'm so grateful that I found HR smile.gif I barely listen to conventional radio at all anymore....now it's HR 24/7!

~*Sarah*~
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CelticRadio 
Posted: 13-Jun-2004, 08:42 PM
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Thank you so much for your vote of confidence! This site and broadcast is really a grass roots effort to provide an alternative to the type of behaviour and policies found in the music industry. We will continue what we are doing, guided by our members and listeners, to provide a good place to visit and listen to some excellent music.

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