Payola, the practice of record companies paying broadcasters to air their music on the radio, is bad for music and the music industry. It makes it nearly impossible for artists without a large label behind them to be played on commercial stations. In the past 20 years, mega broadcasters like iHeartMedia (Clear Channel), Entercom, and Cumulus have transformed commercial radio from a vibrant community forum into a virtual nationwide jukebox with the same songs and artists played over and over. Under current law, payola is only legal if it’s disclosed at the time a paid-for song is played, but that’s not to say the labels play by the rules. In 2007, investigators found such widespread evidence of payola that the broadcasters were forced to pay $12.5 million to settle claims. Now, these same broadcasters are trying to replace the required on-air disclosers with a note hidden on their station websites.
“If this were to happen, it would seal the deal for commercial radio just being a closed system for large media companies to promote their products,” Future of Music Coalition CEO Casey Rae tells The New York Times.
Find out how you can help stop payola and make your voice heard at StopPayola.com.