Thursday, March 31, 2011

How "Friday" Proves Payola Still Exists

By now everyone has either heard or heard about the runaway viral YouTube hit "Friday" by 13 year old Rebecca Black. You can argue all you want about the merits of the song, but one thing's for sure, with more than 60 million views so far, someone out there loves it. So what's confusing is that the 60 million views have turned into just 12 radio plays so far. Yes, you read that right - just 12 radio plays.

But listen to what one radio programmer told Digital Music News:
"It's not going to get played unless a major label promotion department brings all of its resources to get it played, otherwise things just don't get added. Nothing's getting incented or enticed - it's the reason why there aren't that many independent songs on the radio right now. It's also the reason why records like 'Friday' and 'Bedroom Intruder' don't get radio play."

Excuse me, but doesn't that sound like the programmer is admitting to payola? They won't play a song unless it's incented or enticed? There are strong laws against payola (where a label pays a station or programming for them to play a song) and the music and radio business has seen at least two major payola scandals that nearly brought them to their knees.

Forget about the payola for a second. Just how out of touch is radio if they have this huge consumer demand yet they ignore it? If there was ever an example that radio and the major labels are about nothing but money, this is it.


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Anonymous said...

hey bobby!

isn't Payola a term for a specific legal situation (in the US)?

Meaning that you can't directly pay for airplay. By saying "It's not going to get played unless a major label promotion department brings all of its resources to get it played..." doesn't necessarily mean to me that he is paying for airplay, as they probably do other things to get airplay.

Bobby Owsinski said...

Payola has taken many forms over the years. What else can you think when a programmer wants to be "incented and enticed"? What else can that mean?

Anonymous said...

This has been going on for decades and is one of the main things that makes me sick about large record companies and radio stations...the fact is that their practices border on the illegal--always have...

These clowns, however, are becoming less relevant and are in danger of becoming completely so. With 60 million views, hell--if the song is good (just to point out--I have NOT seen nor heard this video/audio) then there is huge opportunity for a degree of success, and that without having the greedy bastards a.k.a. record companies and radio stations getting a dime for it.

jefknight said...

In our uber-capitalist world where "pay or die" is de rigueur, what should we find surprising about payola?
Radio is a commercial medium first, an entertainment medium second, more or less. Shouldn't bands who benefit from this broadcast promotion system that, literally, advertises their product (albums/concerts) pay for the airtime, not unlike the guy from the muffler shop? (and if he writes a 3 1/2 min jingle can he get on for free?)

Just playing devil's advocate, Bob.

jay frank said...

It doesn't mean payola exists. It means radio programmers are lazy. They only see record which someone calls them about. Sometimes payola exists, but mostly it means they only pay attention to a song that a known person calls them about.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't sound like payola, Bobby, it just sounds like any other business. It's all about relationships.

On top of that, it's common for young performers like Rebecca Black to focus more on social media and less on radio -- possibly because their music doesn't interest radio's target audience, and possibly because radio isn't reaching the performer's target audience. Probably a combination of both.

Even young performers that have major label backing -- such as Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber -- get surprisingly little radio play considering their celebrity status. My guess is that they'll start pursuing radio play when they start pursuing an older demographic. Which seems to be happening as we speak!

Bobby Owsinski said...

You have legal and illegal payola. If you supply favors for airplay, that's payola although it may comply with law on paper.

The fact is that radio missed the boat. "Friday" is now over 80 million plays and radio should be on it, if for nothing else than it would generate some listens and controversy. The fact that they're so beholden to the promotional arms of the record labels that they can't deviate from it shows you how dead radio really is.

mineot said...

The friday song was at one time at 13 in itunes top chart.
If this new stuff is what people want, (the reason that they use to explain why they play only those things know), they would have to play rebecca black.

One question about payola.
With payola you pay and your song play on the radio.
There is some kind of reverse payola that you play to some song not play on the radio?

Bobby Owsinski said...

If only. The radio stations might've made more money than from regular payola.

Brad said...

I agree with Bobby 100%. It's all about money, not music. And the quote from the programmer does sound like payola. If it was about business, then the programmer would be falling over himmself to get the song on the air because of it's proven track record of 80 million hits on youtube. With numbers like that, advertisers would surely want their ad on during the hour that song is going to be played. To NOT play it, is to ignore "potential" MILLIONS in adveretising dollars.

It's disgusting. I remember when a band member could walk into a radio station - hand the DJ a demo - he would listen to it on his drive home the next morning and if he liked it, he would play it the next day. Major markets used to have a set time each week to play unsigned local artist. I don't see that anymore. Some smaller markets in small towns will still play your song if it's good're only going to be heard in your own backyard, but it does help the turnout for local gigs.

Hert said...

jay frank its so easy to find songs on internet that being lazy is not a explanation.

With just one day on internet I would be able to find music to a fill a entire radio station year (based on the extreme few amount of songs they play).

Also they mostly play singles, so somehow they find about the singles but not about the other songs on the same album??


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