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
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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
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 email@example.com. Likewise, you can
receive complete automated information on the company by
sending an Email request to firstname.lastname@example.org.