July 26, 2005

Spitzer Gets A Payola Settlement [7:40 am]

Paying a Price [pdf]

When executives at Sony BMG needed to drum up support in 2002 for Jennifer Lopez’s album “This Is Me … Then,” they called the program director of a San Diego radio station and offered her a 32-inch plasma TV in exchange for adding the artist’s songs to her play list.

Sony BMG Music Entertainment knew such payola, or “pay-for-play,” was improper. Nonetheless, the company asked the programmer to provide a fictitious contest winner’s name and Social Security number to cover up her involvement.

[...] The alleged exchange was disclosed in a treasure trove of e-mails, BlackBerry messages and other documents made public Monday by New York Atty. Gen. Eliot Spitzer. That electronic paper trail led the second-largest music company to a $10-million settlement.

[...] Sony BMG, home to such artists as Tony Bennett and the Dixie Chicks, promised Monday not to pay radio stations in exchange for airplay. The company issued a formal statement acknowledging that “various employees pursued some radio promotion practices on behalf of the company that were wrong and improper.” The company also fired an executive vice president of promotions at one of its labels.

Related: the current fortunes of a distinctly non-payola radio format - Jack lures fans by not saying much [pdf]

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