WHAT IS PAYOLA?
Is your music being played on your local commercial radio station?
We didn’t think so.
When was the last time you or your label met with a local Programming Director?
If your answer is “never,” you’re in the vast majority of talented and accomplished musicians who have next to no chance to be heard on the commercial airwaves.
Why is that?
One word: Payola.
One bonus word: Consolidation.
WHAT BIG RADIO WANTS
Consolidated corporate radio giants like iHeartMedia (Clear Channel), Entercom and Cumulus Media control the vast majority of radio stations across the country. They may not even be all that interested in music. Unless you’ve got a few million dollars to burn, you won’t be getting played. Over the past 20 years, commercial radio has gone from a vibrant and diverse community of mom and pop broadcasters to a national jukebox where just a handful of programming directors—who don’t even live in your town or city—make decisions about what you hear.
This is bad for musicians. This is bad for music.
And now Big Radio wants more.
The major radio broadcasters are currently seeking to legitimize payola: the practice of accepting cash or other enticements from labels in exchange for airplay. This hurts local music scenes and makes it impossible for independent labels and artists to take part in a vital American resource: the public airwaves.
Paying for music to be played on broadcast radio isn’t illegal, as long as the payment is disclosed on the air at the time a paid-for song is played. Corporate radio has asked the Federal Communications Commission to kill this on-air disclosure requirement. That will likely mean even less independent music is played. And listeners will never know why.
The FCC has an obligation to promote localism, competition and diversity on the public airwaves. It’s time to remind them.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
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READ OTHERS’ COMMENTS
The official FCC reply comment period has now closed. But you can check out the docket and read others’ comments here.
THANK YOUAs we wait to see what the FCC media bureau decides, we’re extremely grateful to all of you who submitted comments, to partner organizations and friends who helped spread the word, community and college radio and LPFM allies, commercial radio folks still fighting the good fight for localism and transparency even in a consolidating industry, and as always, to the musicians whose creative labor is the reason music broadcast media exists.