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Pay-for-Play Was Banned From Radio — But Texts Reveal It May Still Be Thriving

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Melody Bot, Oct 6, 2020.

  1. Melody Bot

    Your friendly little forum bot. Staff Member

    This article has been imported from for discussion. All of the forum rules still apply.

    Elias Leight, writing at Rolling Stone:

    In June 2019, Mitch Mills, a senior vice president of radio promotion at Elektra Records, sent an urgent text to Steve Zap, an independent radio promoter who works with a number of stations in the adult contemporary format. The pair are both longtime players in the music industry, and have texted each other periodically about Warner Music Group acts, including Panic! at the Disco, Twenty One Pilots, and Fitz and the Tantrums. The June 2019 text shows that Mills was worried because Panic! at the Disco were receiving fewer plays than they had the previous week on a station Zap oversaw. “Stevie … [down] 11 in panic,” Mills wrote. “I just did a 2k deal with you … I need Panic back up.”

    The text is one of more than 2,500 messages involving Zap that have been obtained by Rolling Stone. A number of these texts, covering 2018 to July of this year, refer to conversations with major label executives about promotional giveaways and payments to a radio station in connection with airplay – practices that have supposedly been banned.


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  2. DandonTRJ Oct 6, 2020
    (Last edited: Oct 6, 2020)

    ~~~ヾ(^∇^ Supporter

    I extricated two artists from a record deal with this guy not even a week ago. Wow.
  3. ManchesterOrch8

    Motel. Money. Murder. Madness.

    I know this was ‘banned’ decades ago, but everyone I’ve ever spoken to that has been a ‘higher up’ at a radio station whether it be locally or major market regionally has told me directly these things go on in one way or another, and have never stopped.

    If I knew about it, I’m gonna go ahead and assume everyone does. But obviously hard leaked evidence takes it to another level.
  4. DandonTRJ

    ~~~ヾ(^∇^ Supporter

    I vaguely recall a senior UMG attorney once telling me payola actually isn’t illegal so long as the arrangement is disclosed. But yeah, wouldn’t be surprised if industry players aren’t even bothering with that low level of compliance.
  5. Phil507

    Trusted Supporter

    The “Billie Joe must be stopped!” text made me crack up.
  6. Phil507

    Trusted Supporter

    I wonder if the stakes for the hot AC/AC radio format are still that huge, since those are often the stations playing in waiting rooms, super markets, etc
  7. Piercalicious

    Regular Supporter

    Based on this quote and the rest of the article it seems like the loophole here is that they're swapping one artists' songs for another in the station's rotation, so even though these artists he's promoting individually receive more plays in exchange for promotional goods they're not adding "additional airplay" beyond the station's existing # of songs played, because as the promoted artists receives more plays others receive a proportional amount less.

    That argument seems pretty specious to me.