Payola 2004

PayolaThere's a growing trend in the United States that sound an awful lot like payola. As you'll read in this Reuters article, many record labels are shelling out thousands of dollars per week to have songs played between midnight and 06:00.

You see, they have these songs aired as 30 second commercials. What makes this "legal" is the fact the clip is preceded by a voice over letting listeners know it's a paid advertisement. This happens dozens of times between midnight and 06:00 when the only people listening are truck drivers, those working the night shift and a few slackers with insomnia.

The end result of these paid spins is entry into the elite top 10 on Billboard magazine's national pop radio chart. Radio program directors across the country use this chart to spot hot new tunes so entering the top 10 there guarantees you more exposure throughout the country which inevitably results in more record sales. All of this is because record labels are paying to have songs played a' la the payola scandal of the 1950s.

Is it just me or is this incredibly unethical? How is it that songs played as commercials can count towards the Billboard top 10? This system has to change, even though it's been aiding our very own Avril Lavigne. "In all, sources said, WQZQ aired Don't Tell Me as an ad at least 40 times the week ending May 23, accounting for more than one-third of the song's airplay on the station." Say it ain't so, Avril. Say it ain't so.

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