Payola-The Dirty Industry Practice-That's Ruining Hip Hop |
by Davey D
“Payola is as old as radio. The legalities have also changed most
recently allowing legal loopholes. Legal loopholes created playola the
creation of corporate america to cash in legally.
For decades decision makers were individuals in each marketplace. Payola comes in the way of cash,trips, appliances, drugs, sex and anything of value for today's marketplace.
Payola is as American as prostitution. Radio programmers and Dj's hands
are shaped like cups. Everyone expects something since it is not coming
in your paycheck.
GM's don't ask questions while there PD's make the annual trip to
Brazil. Payola's the lapdance that everyone wants at work or in the
comfort at home.”
Shady Industry Practices to Disguise Payola
What you read above is what longtime radio programmer and industry insider Paul Porter who used to work for Emmis and has programmed for BET and radio One has to say about the dirty illegal practice we call payola that goes on in the industry. For many, payola has completely ruined the music biz and in particular Hip Hop.
Before anyone can seriously talk about how to tone down the amount of sex, violence and misogyny heard on the public airwaves or how get more conscious music on rotation on your favorite radio station, you have to first deal with payola. This is the seedy practice employed by most major record labels and commercial radio station that determine what gets on the air and what doesn’t. It’s amazing how time after time, I’ll go to conferences and community settings where passionate individuals will tell the audience in order to change the music they hear they have to call the station and request a new song or write the program director or something along those lines. Unfortunately, such erroneous advice is indication that they don’t fully understand the business and they are ignoring the big white elephant in the living room-Payola
Back in the days payola used to be done via the envelop full of money that was slipped under the table in the dark of night to a shiesty program director or deejay. That’s what led to some love shown for particular artists. As the government began to crack down, the methodology behind the practice became slicker.
So now payola shows up in the form of concerts like Summer Jam, Winter Ball, Halloween Boo Bash etc where your favorite artists shows up and perform for free or very little money in exchange for prime time airplay, new radio station street team vans and jackets, commercials buys and ‘free trips to Hawaii or Cancun for an album release party. The other favorite ploy is the record label shopping spree where cats get hit off with lots of free gear and elaborate shopping trips via the label’s credit card. We also can’t forget the strippers and friendly girls who show up at your hotel room during industry conventions. All this is done under the guise of entertainment but with the main goal of securing airplay.
The other practice is for program directors and other shady individuals to use independent promoters who act as go betweens for the artist and radio stations. These indie promoters over the years have literally carved up the country amongst themselves. If you look at a map of the indie territories it would remind you of an old colonization map. In fact things are set in such a way that nothing goes down on the major airwaves unless these powerful indie promoters approve. Now, over the past year several radio conglomerates have publicly stated that they are severing all ties from indie promoters to avoid the appearance of any wrongdoings but that hasn’t stopped the practice of payola.
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