Payola, Crayola (A Commentary of Sorts)

Payola, Crayola (A Commentary of Sorts)
by Kenny Love


O, Fellow Peasants!  Lend me thine ears!  Let me, for 
thee, a picture paint…of Musical Pied Pipers, ultimately, 
elected as Kings & Queens, awarded and adorned with 
crowns of Gold, and thrones of Platinum…not through 
fairly and equally touching the hearts of their audiences 
with their lyric, music, and song, but bestowed with their 
vast wealth unfairly, by and from, a sprouted vile root 
called 'Payola'.

My attempt at becoming eligible for the Shakespearean Hall of Fame? Not! But absolutely, my intentional address of the recent Payola scandal as reported by Mr. Dan Whitcomb (Reuters/Los Angeles bureau) in the July 2, 1999 edition of "Yahoo! News Entertainment Headlines."
In Mr. Whitcomb's article, titled "California Pop Music Execs. Charged With 'Payola'," he addresses the recent scandal investigated over a two-year period by U.S. prosecutors, whereby, two senior executives of the popular Latin music label, Fonovisa, were charged in a 'Payola' scandal. The scandal involved $2,000 in cash paid out by Fonovisa to a radio station Program Director to play the label's music more frequently. The Times reported that in 1997, Fonovisa dominated the Spanish radio airwaves with a string of No.1 hits.
This incident surprises me in a sense - not because it occurred, but because of the reversion by the label's personnel to the original and historical "cash" process. In my opinion, 'Payola' is, indeed, very much alive in today's music industry, albeit for the most part, shrouded in secrecy and isolated lavishness. Today, it is reflected in "gifts" of fancy, expensive automobiles, dinners, clothing, and materials of that ilk.
On occasion, I converse with independent label personnel and independent artists who wholly subscribe to the theory that the only possible way for them to obtain exposure and recognition for their recordings at the radio level is to grease the palms of PD's with filthy lucre (Say it ain't so, Harry!) Is their theory valid?
Well now, consider that in today's world of first-class dumb-downery, seemingly, in full bloom at every level of our modern, high-tech society (did "dumb-downery" begin with "point & click?"), and where deceit is often considered in the business world as a close relative of adaptation, improvisation, and overcomeness, I believe that there still exists radio station personnel who will not play a recording if there is not an agreeable consensus by the "other" party to play 'Payola'.
No, not because the recording is not of the right format, or the opinion that it is lacking in professional commercial sound quality. But, in some cases, these excuses are what you, inevitably, will encounter from 'Payola'-participating personnel at some stations. This is based on the assumption that you provide your recording to enough stations while involved in "the numbers game" as an independent do-it-yourselfer without the "extra" cash to go along with it.
Often, 'Payola' is as subtle as the suggestion of station personnel to purchase advertisement for more favorable consideration. But, don't get me wrong - I am NOT saying that every station that rejects the idea of adding your recording to its playlist should make your list of 'Usual Suspects'. That would be untrue.
However, my advice? Simply this - if you should encounter rejection, for whatever reason, don't dwell on it. Simply move on to the next station. Thankfully, Payola is a demon not desiring to emerge from the shadows to the spotlight. And, thankfully, most station personnel are wonderful people there to help you, and who will play the game fairly. _________________________________________________

Editor's Note: Kenny Love is President/CEO of Sachja Productions, a combined national radio promotion and press publicity firm. Sachja Productions accepts unsolicited recordings (compact disc only) in all music genres for review and consideration. Contact the organization at P. O. Box 701231, Dallas, Texas 75370. You can also telephone the company at (972)390-0529, Fax to (209)755-8329, or Email them at sachja@yahoo.com. Likewise, you can receive complete automated information on the company by sending an Email request to sachjainfo@smartbotpro.net.
home...columns index...author's index