Payola Still How It Works In The Radio Biz

from the money-for-airtime dept

Salon is running an interesting article about the process of “payola” to get radio stations to play songs. Payola, of course, has been around for years, but with the growth of radio megacompany Clear Channel, the power has shifted. Clear Channel has apparently changed the payola game so that it’s serious revenue for them. The money no longer goes to each radio station, but flows directly to Clear Channel corporate headquarters. They also let all the old payola deals die out and then had the various indie promoters “bid” for exclusive rights to certain stations, leveraging their position to make the prices go much higher than they had ever been before. So, while it used to be the record labels that controlled the whole payola process, now the power has shifted to Clear Channel. The point, though, is that no matter who controls the process, it’s bad for new musicians, and bad for music listeners and consumers. Of course, if the music labels stopped trying to kill off file sharing systems it would take away much of Clear Channel’s power to make or break a hit. But, of course, it would also remove a lot of the record labels’ control as well, and that seems to be their biggest fear.

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