[JPL] Payola pact could boost airplay for indie music
kittym at kittymargolis.com
Wed Mar 7 00:45:26 EST 2007
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.
> 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
> 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
> 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.
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