Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

Music marketing ideas for DIY artists, managers, promoters and music biz pros

June 12, 2007

Is Payola Settlement Good for Indies?

I guess I must have been sleeping in March when news broke that four major radio companies -- Clear Channel, CBS Radio, Entercom and Citadel -- agreed to pay a $12.5 million payola settlement with the FCC.

Jonathan Adelstein, an FCC Commissioner and amateur musician, has been credited with working out the settlements. "I love music and I want radio to sound fresh, dynamic and real," he said. "But payola gets in the way of authenticity because money drives the music, not its quality."

Another FCC commissioner, Michael Copps, said pay-for-play "cheats radio listeners and will not be tolerated." Radio, he said, is "supposed to be our pipeline to exciting, local undiscovered acts -- not more nationalized pablum from big media companies."

Wow. Is this really a government bureaucracy talking? I'm floored!

Here's an interesting side note: In a separate deal with the American Association of Independent Music, the stations pledged to give 4,200 hours of free airtime to independent and local artists.

This is an encouraging development. During my two trips to Nova Scotia I was impressed by the way the Canadian government supports homegrown talent and requires radio stations to play a certain percentage of Canadian artists. It looks like some version of that principle is coming to the U.S.

What do you think? Is it the dawn of a new day for radio? Or just a Band-Aid to temporarily fix a broken system?


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posted by Bob Baker @ 12:46 PM   4 comments


At Jun 12, 2007, 1:13:00 PM, Anonymous Jason @ Insomnia Radio said...

What an incredible statement! I'd love to have his attention for about 5 minutes.

My question is, how do we get these indie artists TO the radio stations?

Take Insomnia Radio, for example. We have an artist library of over 1000 quality bands, most of them unsigned, who deserve the airplay.

I wonder if a system is in place to get them more exposure to FM via this ruling....

Thanks for the article.

At Jun 12, 2007, 2:09:00 PM, Blogger Howlin' Hobbit said...

I don't know that it's either the "new day dawning" or "just a band-aid." I think it's a good sign but will withhold final judgement until I see how it pans out.

I think the main question is "Is this only going to be good for the 'indie labels' or will the truly independent, self-promoted musician also have a chance?"

At Jun 14, 2007, 9:44:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worked for Citadel for a while. I heard stories. Probably true. If so... a well deserved fine.

Radio sucks now.

At Jun 18, 2007, 3:02:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, thanks for sharing this information with us, and all your other articles. It's very much appreciated.

This sounds like a very positive move for the little guys. My concern now is that indies will go berserk and scare off those who make the decisions. I'm listowner of several blues music lists, and editor/columnist for a regional blues music magazine. Despite the obvious, we are deluged with all manner of inappropriate acts and material. This steals my available time - time I should be spending on BLUES acts. And believe me, I let my peers know which acts waste my time and resources, just as my peer group does for me.

Don't bite the hand that you're asking for help.

Send in your CD(s) to stations (*IMPORTANT*) that play your style of music, highlght the track(s) you want them to consider, don't be greedy, DO be smart, and see what happens.

What will most likely happen is that some lazy (and STUPID) independents will go nuts with this, sending their crappy CD to everyone on the theory that more is better, and will ruin it for everyone. If you play metal hiphop, don't send it to a tejano station. And vice versa. How do you respond to obnoxious pop-ups, pop-unders, and spam for junk you're totally not interested in? KNOW your market, and cater to them. Make their job easier, not more difficult. If I'm a program director and your punk bondage CD shows up at my jazz-lite station with all 46 songs ticked, I not only won't listen to it, but I'll also tell all my PD buddies at other stations that you're a waste of time and food. Do your homework and your chances of airplay will multiply exponentially.

I'm a blues/jazz one man band. I play harmonica, guitar, organ bass pedals (same time - my CDs are all live), and sing. What are my chances of air play? Thus far, about 75% of the CDs I've sent out have gotten air play. I do my homework, and phone prospective stations to verify genre and the decision-makers name (spelling and pronunciation). I ask the receptionist (or whoever answers the phone) whether they're more likely to play traditional blues, country blues, jazzy blues, or bluesy jazz. I use "please" and "thank you" liberally and sincerely. And I do this quickly, concisely, remembering this person is on the clock and I'm asking a personal favor. Pleasant, polite, and to the point.

Good luck to everyone. May we all begin work on our second million (we gave up on the first).

-IronMan Mike Curtis


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