Intellectual "Property" in the Digital Age
Frank Field
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-REC Music Industry Wants Payola Reform
[18 hits, 0 votes, Average Rating 0] [Added: 24th May 2002]

New York Times; May 23, 2002. "Charging that payola has made a comeback, a coalition including the music industry's major trade groups is calling for a federal investigation into the practices of the deregulated radio industry." Another Reuters piece is also available: Music Industry Seeks Federal 'Payola' Inquiry - "But the music industry coalition says the law is widely circumvented by broadcasters and independent radio promoters through business practices that ``we consider a de facto form of payola.'' Artists, in particular, are hurt because under most recording contracts, promotional costs come out of their royalties, said Michael Bracy of the Future of Music Coalition." Slashdot discussion: Music Industry Seeks Payola Inquiry
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-REC Payola City
[26 hits, 0 votes, Average Rating 0] [Added: 24th Jul 2001]

Salon; Eric Boehlert; July 24, 2001. "In the wild world of urban radio, money buys hits -- and nobody asks questions." Part of Salon's Clear Channel series coverage of radio practices and the effects on the recording industry.
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-Is Clear Channel selling hit singles?
[13 hits, 0 votes, Average Rating 0] [Added: 25th Jun 2002]; Eric Boehlert; June 25, 2002. A new trick.

MCA came calling specifically because Clear Channel had recently unveiled a new market-research program called PD Perceptual. With an unprecedented lineup of radio stations under its control, operating in every conceivable format, Clear Channel was looking for ways to gather information from its stations and sell that data to record companies. Designed to gauge early reaction from its programmers to new singles, the PD Perceptual program would poll its radio stations on behalf of record companies, for a price: $20,000 per song.

To promote PD Perceptual, Clear Channel reportedly offered the major labels a free test drive of the system. MCA promptly submitted Cherry's "Feels So Right" to find out whether the song was a hit. Cherry, the son of late jazz trumpeter Don Cherry, needed the help. In 1998 he had managed a minor Top-40 hit with "Save the Night." But the likable singer-songwriter hadn't reached "TRL" status, where radio programmers would automatically notice (and play) his latest release. Without blanket radio airplay it's almost impossible to launch a hit single, or sustain a career, in the music business today.

...One radio source, who requested anonymity, insists a clear quid pro quo was in play: "They were trying to show labels: If you play ball with us, you get adds [on radio playlists]. Clear Channel appeared to be putting pressure, particularly on their smaller stations, to add a record that was in PD Perceptual." The source says that Clear Channel programmers told him they were strongly encouraged to play the Cherry single, even though "nobody thought this song was a hit."

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-Pay for play
[24 hits, 0 votes, Average Rating 0] [Added: 3rd Jun 2001]

Wired; Eric Noehlert; March 14, 2001. Why Radio Sucks; why people might want Napster instead? A discussion of the "new payola"
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-Record companies: Save us from ourselves!
[26 hits, 0 votes, Average Rating 0] [Added: 14th Mar 2002]

Salon; Eric Boehlert; March 14, 2002. "With payola up but profits down, labels are wondering if paying $100 million to middlemen "fixers" is still a swell business idea."
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-Shocked, Shocked at Payola
[12 hits, 0 votes, Average Rating 0] [Added: 25th Jun 2002]; June 25, 2002. Followups, links and comments on the two Salon articles on the payola investigation.
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-The 'Bootylicious' Gambit
[15 hits, 0 votes, Average Rating 0] [Added: 5th Jun 2001]

Salon; Eric Boehlert; June 5, 2001. A description of Columbia Record's attempts to break the "new payola" radio play machine by leveraging the popularity of a current hit group.
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-The empire strikes back
[12 hits, 0 votes, Average Rating 0] [Added: 7th Aug 2002]; Eric Boehlert; August 7, 2002.

As the music industry's "pay-for-play" scandal deepens, the big five record labels try to crush the expanding power of the dreaded indie promoters.

Record and radio insiders report that several major record companies have quietly introduced new payment schemes for the influential middlemen known as independent promoters, or indies, who peddle songs to radio. Concerned about the runaway costs of indie promotion, which by some estimates costs the music industry more than $150 million annually, label executives say they're determined to return some fiscal sanity to a process that to most outsiders does not appear sane.

For artists, it's virtually impossible to land significant FM commercial radio airplay today without paying indies. Each single shipped to radio can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote.

According to one indie who requested anonymity, RCA Records recently notified him that in order to get credit -- and pay -- for a radio station that has added one of the label's new singles, the station now has to play the song at least 50 times over a six-week period. Spins during the overnight shifts, when few people are listening, don't count toward the quota.

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-Will Congress tackle pay-for-play?
[15 hits, 3 votes, Average Rating 6.67] [Added: 25th Jun 2002]; Eric Boehlert; June 25, 2002. Payola investigations begin.

Once a hush-hush topic rarely discussed even within the music industry, "pay-for-play," the costly system by which record companies pay independent promoters to get songs on the radio, has now become a hot-button political issue.

Some members of Congress are talking about holding hearings and offering legislation in hopes of tearing down the entrenched pay-for-play system. Not only does pay-for-play cost the music industry approximately $150 million each year, it virtually shuts off access to commercial FM radio for artists or record companies who can't or won't spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote a new single. Inside the industry, the veil has also been lifted; an entire panel discussion devoted to indie promotion is being put together for the radio industry's largest annual convention this fall. Meanwhile, ABC's "20/20" ran a prime-time segment on pay-for-play, and even the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have introduced the topic to their readers.

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