[JPL] Payola pact could boost airplay for indie music

Kitty Margolis kittym at kittymargolis.com
Wed Mar 7 00:45:26 EST 2007

Hello friends,

Thought I'd share this one. Looks like it could be a bit of good news 
for indie labels and an expensive wrist slap for Clear Channel and 
their ilk. Right on.

my best,
Kitty Margolis
> Payola pact could boost airplay for indie music
> By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
> March 6, 2007
> WASHINGTON — Sex Mob, a New York band that records for a small music 
> label, was good enough to nab a Grammy nomination last year for best 
> contemporary jazz album.
> But it wasn't good enough to be heard on commercial radio.
> That now may change. Four of the nation's largest radio-station chains 
> have agreed to air thousands of hours of music from independent record 
> labels and local musicians. The accord with an independent music group 
> came as the companies were working out a settlement of a federal 
> inquiry into allegations that radio programmers illegally received 
> cash and gifts from major record labels in exchange for playing songs 
> without revealing those deals to listeners.
> "It's a watershed moment in our industry," Peter Gordon, who helped 
> negotiate the airtime provisions as a board member of the American 
> Assn. of Independent Music, said Monday.
> The Federal Communications Commission's "pay for play" probe involved 
> Clear Channel Communications Inc., CBS Radio Inc., Entercom 
> Communications Corp. and Citadel Broadcasting Corp. The radio chains, 
> which didn't admit wrongdoing, agreed to pay a collective $12.5 
> million in fines and dedicate a total of 8,400 half-hour segments to 
> independent music over the next three years. A few details of the 
> agreement, under which the chains wouldn't admit wrongdoing, were 
> still being worked on. Any settlement would require approval of the 
> panel of commissioners.
> Andy Levin, Clear Channel's executive vice president and chief legal 
> officer, said the FCC found no rule violations and that the company 
> was pleased to "close the door" on the investigation. The other chains 
> did not comment Monday.
> Given the history of big record companies' secretly giving money, 
> airline tickets and other gifts to stations to play their music — a 
> practice called payola that is illegal when listeners are unaware of 
> it — many independent labels don't even try to get lesser-known 
> artists on the air.
> "You almost see that as a lost cause," said Gordon, president of 
> Thirsty Ear Recordings in Norwalk, Conn., which released Sex Mob's 
> "Sexotica" album.
> FCC Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein, an amateur musician who helped 
> broker the settlement, said the fine would be one of the largest ever 
> by the commission and could be a breakthrough in the fight against 
> pay-for-play conduct.
> "If you take payola out of radio, then music gets heard on the basis 
> of merit, not on the basis of who's got wads of cash backing the 
> artist," he said. "That's likely to make radio fresher and restore its 
> vitality."
> The $12.5-million fine would be in line with accords two of the radio 
> chains reached last year with former New York Atty. Gen. Eliot 
> Spitzer. CBS Radio and Entercom agreed to pay $2 million and $4.45 
> million, respectively.
> But the proposed FCC fine falls short of settlements Spitzer got from 
> some major record companies. Universal Music Group, for example, 
> agreed to pay more than $12 million over the issue. But the FCC has no 
> jurisdiction over record labels.
> In a separate pact with independent labels, the radio chains would set 
> aside half-hour segments between 6 a.m. and midnight.
> Radio historian Christopher H. Sterling doubted the agreements would 
> end pay-for-play, which dates to the early days of rock music in the 
> 1950s.
> Payola is almost "as hard to stamp out as prostitution," said 
> Sterling, a professor of media and public affairs at George Washington 
> University. He questioned how broadly the broadcasters would define 
> local and independent music.
> Susan Busch, director of radio promotions for Sub Pop Records, a 
> Seattle independent rock label that developed such bands as Nirvana 
> and Soundgarden before they took off, expressed concern that the 
> label's artists would continue to be "ghettoized" on commercial radio, 
> where local music often airs from 9 to 11 p.m. Sundays.
> But the pact could give new artists a foot in the door, said Michael 
> Bracy of the Future of Music Coalition, a nonprofit group that 
> advocates for independent musicians and record labels.
> "If it works, it really could fundamentally change the way impendent 
> music gets on commercial radio," Bracy said.

Mad-Kat Records, P.O. Box 330425, San Francisco, Ca.  USA   94133
ph. 415/397-9361   fx. 415/398-6964
Kitty Margolis: kittym at kittymargolis.com
Mad-Kat Records: madkatrecords at kittymargolis.com
Kitty's Jazz Spot

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