Blogs » On Another Note » Sony Got Busted


(Thanks Mark, for bringing this to my attention)

Some time last week, I wrote a little something about how your favorite
music store chains sell certain wall and floor space to record companies.
How fitting that less than a week after the fact, record label giant Sony
BMG has decided to settle in a case that has uncovered the record company
offering payola to radio stations in exchange to play certain songs by the
artists on their label. According to a probe that was launched by Attorney
General Eliot Spitzer the giant record label has been giving free trips,
laptops, cash, and “whatver you can dream up.. we can make it happen”
(according to an email to persuade a radio station to play rock band
Audioslave that week) All of this in exchange to play certain songs, at certain times of the day, in heavy rotation.

In addition to that, the report also discovered Sony BMG did the following:

Hired independent promoters to funnel the money and gifts to radio

Used interns and others it hired to call in requests for certain songs to
trick radio stations into playing them more.

Bought chunks of advertising time, during which its songs were played to
boost ratings in the charts. Such airtime was not differentiated from
regular music programs.

Paid radio stations to cover operational expenses in exchange for playing
specific songs.

The story of the settlement broke today, but it’s not a secret that
something screwy has been going on for years. Didn’t anyone notice but me
that the radio plays the same 5 songs every hour? How many times did the "Chicken Littles" of the music world tell us the sky was falling?

Not only is payola against federal law, the real crime is against the music
listeners. Think about all the great artists you never got to hear because
that one Jennifer Lopez song was being played over and over. Think about the struggling
musicians playing in dead end bars every night so that someone can buy their
record on the shelves. There is no diversity in the Top 40 music vein, and
strangely enough, that is supposed to be the mainstream “popular” choice,
not something that is force fed and brainwashed into you. How many times have
you heard someone say “I hate that song, but they played it so much it got
into my head and I bought the CD.” ? It’s not just Sony BMG either, they are
currently looking into 3 other record companies as well.

Thankfully, radio is dying out, the demand for it has been lessened by the
internet and downloads… Now, artists will actually have to (gasp!) make good
music to compete with other artists that are on on an equal playing ground
where good taste and talent will overcome.