My associate, Sounni de Fontenay, Pres. and fearless leader of the popular “Music Dish” (www.musicdish.com) site, and 1/2 of the famed de Fontenay brothers, seems to know the specific subject matter that can quickly get under my skin.
In fact, in a cold nuclear war on any given Sunday, I would hate to be on the receiving end of his brand of counter-intelligence. As such, I was on the receiving end of another type of his intelligences…the dissemination of a Los Angeles Times’ article he recently pointed me to regarding an ‘oh so familiar’ pet peeve of mine…
(((((“Payola!”))))) Rhymes with (((((“Crayola!”))))), except not quite so colorful…
Now, I’ve written several articles in the past regarding Payola, and that, along with the crest of Spring on the horizon, is probably what made Sounni think warmly of me (thanks, Sounni). For those who still may be unfamiliar with the term, “Payola” is the unlawful act of bribing or coercing an entity that has something of value, which is understood to be shared equally, but to provide it unequally in exchange for something more.
In other words, let’s say I’m the only kid (been a long time, but humor me) with a bicycle in the neighborhood, and all 10 of my friends and I have agreed that each will ride 5 minutes, then start the whole process over. But! You come along with a slice of pecan pie <= (my favorite) and whisper in my ear,
“Hey, Kenny…I know this is your favorite pie. Now, I’ll only let you have it *[IF]*…
And, therein, lies the problem…the proverbial *IF*…
And, for some of those who claim complete and utter unawareness of what Payola is (“Marge, is that a paycheck holiday?”), I strongly suspect these are also some of the same haggard souls who witness traffic accidents, then when subpoenaed to appear in court, come kicking and screaming while emitting a fowl cry to the point of…
“Your Honor! I didn’t see nuthin’! Honest!”
Interestingly, the term, “Payola,” is, unfortunately, most often associated with the music industry and, particularly and specifically, when it comes to obtaining radio airplay for recording artists. In the past, this was carried out quite often and effectively, albeit, some bureaucrat saw need to enact a federal law that stamped it out. Damn! Don’t ask me which law, for I won’t be able to tell you without research. And, right now, I’m fresh out of research.
Honestly though, the only thing the law stamped out (in name only), was the filthy lucre (cold hard cash money) that exchanged more than a few not-so-greasy palms. In fact, those palms were, otherwise, incorporated with ye olde tried-and-true, Velcro.
Nevertheless, that exchange simply took on a new designer look that would make Bob Mackie jealous. Through the creativity of unscrupulous beings at record labels, the “cash” quickly made the transition to giveaways in the forms of; fancy cars, lavish dinners, vacations, prostitution, and any number of tainted curses in the guise of blessings, albeit, at a significantly more discreet level. And, for these vile criminally uncivil acts, I should also mention that not a few people have (and currently are) served/serving time behind bars. And, they’re fresh out of “Bloody Marys” to boot.
In any event, I’m reading the article that Sounni saw fit to send my way whereby Randy Michaels, Chief Executive of the San Antonio-based (had to be a Texan!) Clear Channel radio broadcast group, arguably, the largest broadcast group, is contradicting himself, through his own admission of having fired two program directors for Payola while, simultaneously, appearing to be setting his 1200-station network up to receive…
“Did you say, Crayola???”
NOOO! I……said……(gotta quit smoking)…
What’s more, is that I almost fell out of my seat when I read the Times’ editorial statement, “The move is sending a shudder through the major labels, which see legal and ethical problems with paying money directly to broadcasters to help get their artists on the air.”
Wow! Are you kiddin’ me? When did the major labels get hands laid on them and healed by my favorite televangelists to the point that they now consider Payola a sin? Did Benny Hinn finally lay hands on these guys? Or, did Father Guido Sarducci’s ears finally begin to bleed after hearing their 1,000th “Bless me Father, for I have sinned?”
Allegedly, Clear Channel Communications makes no bones about the fact that it wants a share of the tens of millions of dollar$ in record company promotional funds that go to independent promoters.
The report also goes on to say that CCC’s initiative, which the company expects to present in May, reflects a fundamental shift of power in the record business. It adds that industry mergers have moved the balance of power to radio groups, which today have the clout to launch a song simultaneously in scores of markets across the country, or consign it to oblivion.
<oh, lawd,=”” i=”” think=”” i’m=”” gonna=”” be=”” sick!=””>
Further, Clear Channel hopes to generate more than $20 million annually by selling chain-wide advertising packages, research, and a variety of airplay data to labels whose songs are played on its stations. Clear Channel plans to sell ads to labels that would air immediately after the station plays the latest song by one of their artists. The brief ad would identify the artist who performed the preceding song, a practice that many stations have dropped. Clear Channel said it would sell such an ad only if programmers had already determined the song was a hit.
Wow, that process should be interesting and create yet another stinker in the music business. Will “hits” now be determined and decided by Clear Channel, since it is the largest radio broadcast network? What prerequisites determine a “hit?” Shall it be sales, airplay requests, how many sell-out concerts an act has, or a combination of all? Sources say the company is pitching ads at $1,000 a pop that would run on some 60 stations.[Career Advice]=> Indie musicians, start saving those pennies today for that advertising, and you ought to be able to afford several recurring spots about the same time my neighbor’s 3-year-old daughter becomes president of the United States.
Now, from the above financial bullsh*t, we are nothing, if not blind to the point of seeing that Clear Channel ‘clearly’, pardon the pun, has the Indie musician’s interest first, firmly, and foremost in mind. Alternatively, any Indie that hasn’t had the misfortune of having repeatedly been forced to stand by army tanks during an 8-hour firing, has got to be able to understand that CCC ain’t out to do the little Indie no damn good.
I, personally, am in agreement with Mr. Steve Rendall, senior analyst for the New York-based media watchdog group FAIR, who contends, “Clear Channel is trying to skirt the law, using its power to shake down record companies in what amounts
to legal payola.”
<gee, perhaps=”” those=”” major=”” labels=”” really=”” *did*=”” get=”” converted!=””>
Record company officials say they are reluctant to buck Clear Channel, with its dominant market position in radio and concert promotion, but they are uncertain how effective the new promotions will be. <= hehehehehe
Majors, if you will kindly remit to me, a certified check in the sum of $1,333,222.95, I will gladly complete a financial analysis, accounting, and resulting printout revealing *exactly* how effective the “new promotions” are intended to be. I will even retain the services of my close friend, Clyde, who also happens to be a Certified Public Accountant, to check it twice, just to find out who’s being nice…we already know who’s being naughty. Hell, and if that isn’t enough, I’ll even run the report off on a laser printer, instead of a rat-a-tat-tat dot matrix version. Now, how’s that for uncertain quality?
But, radio industry sources say there is another reason: that record companies feel they could lose the power they already have to influence airplay at Clear Channel stations under the current system with independent agents, as a direct play-for-pay arrangement between record company and radio broadcaster could be illegal.
Mr. Michaels acknowledged that “the plan would probably rattle some cages in the music industry.”
(((((Hey, Randy! How about this plan potentially rattling the whole damn zoo?)))))
So many shake-ups…so little time. Worst part is, just when Indies thought it was safe to go back in the business waters, we find “Jaws” had incestuous lurking offspring.
In the never-so-truer words of one of my favorite Contemporary Jazz recording artists, Pat Metheny…
“As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls…”
…I shudder to think.
Copyright © 2001 Kenny Love
Editor’s Note: Often confused with an infamous mad scientist, as well as admitting to having stood too close to tanks during their firing while in the army, Kenny Love is extensively involved in what he terms “a concoction of arts, humanities, and innovations.” See his exhaustive web site at http://www.kennylove.net.
For more information go to: http://www.kennylove.net</gee,></oh,>