soundtrack : GWAR : Immortal Corrupter
The nations largest broadcasting groups and record companies are mostly mum as fines, subpoenas and FCC threats linger due to the ongoing "Payola" investigation spearheaded by that NY State Attorney General with political aspirations Elliott Spitzer. In documents released this week in conjunction with the settlement, one program director of a major station e-mailed Sony Music a resonse to an offer of a dubious nature, saying, "I'm a whore this week, what can I say?"
soundtrack : Bachman Turner Overdrive - You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet
The Payola story is an old one, with today's watered down style having existed for decades, only slightly changed since the original 1960 hearings on the subject in the music industry. The system was switched from direct cash payments to DJs into a more muted bribery of paid trips, bonuses, and gifts built in along with various promotional tie ins and legally proscribed "Pay For Play" in return for airplay on radio stations.
It was lawmaker's attention in the early 1960's that nearly destroyed Dick Clark's wholesome image when he was forced by ABC-TV to either give up his American Bandstand program or to sell his shares in music-related firms, including record labels & publishing houses. Clark, ever a camera hog, chose the latter, and signed an affidavit denying any involvement in payola. Not as savvy was Alan Freed, who was fired, arrested and disgraced after testifying to accepting payments and refusing "on principal" to renounce the practices.
Stations & Labels Under Investigation
Radio stations that were documented participating in the current payola schemes include WQHT-FM in New York (Hot 97); WWPR-FM in New York (Power 105); KHTS-FM in San Diego (Channel 933); WRHT-FM in Greenville, North Carolina; WKKF ( 102.3 Kiss FM) & WFLY-FM ( Fly 92.3) in Albany, New York , WWHT-FM in Syracuse, New York (Hot 107.9); and WSSP-FM in Milwaukee (The Beat), among others.
Broadcasting behemoths ; Clear Channel, Cox Radio, Infinity, Emmis and Entercom have each been subpoenaed as part of an investigation into allegations of payola in the radio industry. "We are cooperating fully with Mr. Spitzer's office," a Clear Channel spokesperson said in a statement that did not belie the companies encouragement of the long held practices now being investigated.
The Sony BMG documents made public by Spitzer's office Monday expose a wide range of payoffs to stations, often in what seem to be trivial amounts for individuals, but of very questionable legality, and potentially millions of dollars across the country and over time.
Sony BMG's Relationship With Radio Is Redefined
E-mails from Sony BMG and its subsidiary labels made it clear that executives were aware of the ongoing practices. "Two weeks ago, it cost us over $4,000 to get Franz (Ferdinand) on WKSE," reads one e-mail released by Spitzer's office, talking about wooing a former program director in Buffalo named Dave Universal. "This is what the four trips to Miami and hotel cost." Another from a Vice President details a preferred method of invoicing "as it looks "cleaner" that way."
The payments often came in creative forms, such as providing the stations with "contest prizes" that seemed to find their way to station employees. These included finding a flat screen TV "won" by Diana Laird, program director for KHTS, a Clear Channel station in San Diego, in November 2002. Blake Larson, PD for Archway Broadcasting top 40 WRHT Greenville, N.C., was given airfare for two, a laptop PC and Playstation 2 equipment and games, in exchange for airplay.
corporate shlock soundtrack : The Used & My Chemical Romance - Under Pressure
pictured: Now Fired Dave Universal - One of Sony's Fave Frequent Flyers
In one case, an executive suggested getting DJ shoe sizes, sending one Adidas sneaker up front, and sending the second shoe of the pair upon completion of the record receiving 10 spins. Another email shows a promo staffer seeking approval to buy a $150 walkman for a radio station employee from Sony's internal "family center" and then invoicing the expense. Via e-mail a Zomba label employee tempts a programmer, “You have room for a money record this week?” 311 ‘Love Song’ Big $$$.”
Showing that both sides enjoy the tit for tat, one email features a Clear Channel employee's blatant email solicitation of the label "looking for a laptop" in exchange for playing their artist Bow Wow in Albany NY.
Sony to pay $10m payola fine, Epic Axes Execs Over Payola,
The investigation and subsequent settlement has implications that redefin the way the media conglomerate can do business with radio stations. In the "Exhibit B" section of the settlement, titled "Business Reforms," guidelines for Sony BMG promotion execs include oversight of a Compliance Officer, to oversee all transactions and file quarterly reports to Sony BMG's General Counsel.
As part of a settlement with the NY State attorney general's office, Sony BMG has agreed to pay $10 million to be distributed by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors to nonprofit groups in the state of New York aimed at arts and education. Spitzer claims the money will in some way benefit independent musicians indirectly frozen out by the alleged payola schemes.
Epic, a subsidiary of Sony has acted shocked and fired some top promotion executives, but it's not as if these labels didn't invent and perpetuate this system. Memos from both Sony's Columbia and Epic Records senior vice presidents of promotions circa 2002-2003 — whose names are redacted in the reports but are well known in the industry — spell out who to pay and what to pay them in order to get the company's records on the air. From Epic, a "rate card" memo states "Please be advised that in this week's Jennifer Lopez Top 40 Spin Increase of 236 we bought 63 spins at a cost of $3,600." The document from Nov. 12, 2002, shows radio stations in the Top 23 markets will receive $1000, Markets 23-100 get $800, lower markets $500. "If a record receives less than 75 spins at any given radio station, we will not pay the full rate," the memo to DJs states. "We look forward to breaking many records together in the future."
Investigators uncovered and detailed instances of clear cut abuse documented in strings of incriminating emails. Dave Universal, now fired program director for Buffalo, New York's WKSE-FM received several flights (to New York, Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, with guests) in exchange for adding Jennifer Lopez's "I'm Real" (in July 2001), Good Charlotte's "Hold On" (in November 2003) and Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out" (in August 2004) to his station's play list. An internal memo contained in the documents states that theEpic label had a total of $1,250 “budgeted for WKSE's Good Charlotte" playlist add. Other artists that benefited from the corruption included Celine Dion, Duran Duran, Jessica Simpson and Audioslave , a band featuring ex-members of politically active act Rage Against The Machine.
some obligatory music to reward ya for checkin' out this post:
Bow Wow w/ Ciara - Like You
Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc
Andrew Bird - Nervous Tic Motion Of The Head To The Left
other dishonorable mentions and vicarious show biz related shite:
Clear Channel releases press release vowing "Swift And Appropriate Disciplinary Action"
but instaed will remain a big ass uncooperative conglomerate bent on stifling creativity and cluttering our public airwaves. Executives instaed ate on the company dime , did not return messages and appeared unconcerned about anything but the weekend and an upcoming conference call to discuss innovative ways to squeeze profits out of their thousands of lifeless stations .
The Killers will headline an American version of the Download Festival, a concert to be held in the Clear Channel controlled Shoreline Amphitheater venue outside San Francisco on October 8. Also slated to play the festival are other bands that only payola could save like Modest Mouse, The Arcade Fire, Doves, H.I.M. Mindless Self Indulgence, and many others.
Paid Product Placement Surges in Magazines, Newspapers, Other Media
The rapid rise of product placement in newspapers and magazines may alarm some print industry watchdogs. Some newspapers are publishing so-called "shadow" placements, in which brand logos appear as watermarks on heavily type-ridden pages, such as weather and stock listings.Forbes Magazines Blog Awards?
The mag that gave you those annoying lists of the richest people, now hooks you up with the rich media infused Forbes blog awards and their choice of asianmack, which features monthly free legal mp3 mixes with cover art...
TV offers 'instant' reruns - on DVD
According to Variety, sales of rehashed TV programs - from Lucille Ball sitcoms to 'The Office' - hit nearly $3 billion in 2004, proving you can resell old shit that's already on TV for free. USA Today reports one of the only problems is the saturation as early adopters and collectors of the now 8 year old medium run out of room to expand their collections.