Study: Payola deal has failed to provide more airplay for independent artists


The American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) and the Future of Music Coalition (FMC) have released the results of a study they conducted regarding the progress toward compliance with the 2007 FCC Consent Decree and Rules of Engagement. Stemming from Elliot Spitzer’s high-profile payola investigation, the FCC in 2007 signed agreements with four major commercial radio broadcasters (CBS Radio, Clear Channel, Entercom and Citadel) that was designed to increase the representation of independent music on commercial radio. Around the same time, the independent music community, led by A2IM and the FMC, signed a separate "Rules Of Engagement" agreement with the radio chains promising to play more local and independent artists.

According to A2IM and FMC, not much has changed since 2007. Their study shows that 92 percent of independent labels report no change in their relationship with commercial radio since the settlement, and nearly half of respondents reported that payola remains a determining factor in commercial radio airplay. Roughly 1 in 4 respondents said they have been approached, either directly or indirectly, with requests for payola since the FCC settlement.

"To paint 100 percent negative picture is wrong," comments Daniel Glass, the chair of A2IM’s Radio Committee and owner of Glassnote Entertainment Group. "There are success stories. But we are disappointed to see independents are still reporting lack of access and cooperation, despite the new agreements."

"Radio is still a vital medium with a good deal of untapped promise," added FMC Executive Director Ann Chaitovitz. "This report represents important groundwork to ensure that radio is accessible to local and independent artists and serves its local communities. By documenting the historic and ongoing barriers between commercial radio and independent music, we help ensure accountability and hopefully create more favorable conditions for independent artists and labels."

Meanwhile, independent labels remain optimistic about the situation, pointing to the success of independent music on Internet and satellite radio as an example of a bright spot. "Rebranding radio as cool and creating a stronger bond with their local listeners is vital to the health of radio," said A2IM President Rich Bengloff. "We invite radio programmers to read this report and open their minds – and playlists – to the opportunities presented by playing more independent music."

You can examine the full study here.

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