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Location: Charlottesville, Virginia, United States

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Apparently I'm a Payola Watchdog

I don't know why this angers me so much, especially given that I've ranted about it twice on the Stylus blog, but here's another article defending the practice of payola. I'll try to keep my response brief...

One view is that radio stations should be faithful to listeners and make choices based only on their DJs’ honest musical appreciation. But how do they know what gangsta rap track is top quality? Payola helps them learn, because record companies will tend to value airtime the most for releases for which they have the highest expectations of future sales.

Hmmm...Maybe the DJs should be allowed to listen to the music and decide. My feeling is that author Thomas Hazlett is furthered removed from gangsta rap than most of the DJs who are spinning, what?, N.W.A. The idea of letting record companies choose which is the "best" is also problematic. Sales [or sales desired/expected] DOES NOT EQUAL GOOD. Everyone repeat that until you've got it. Something can sell 10,000 copies or 10 million copies and be good.

In music, bribery stratagems can be amusing but compact disc buyers are not much scandalised by corporate marketing indiscretions.

This falls into the "If no one cares, it isn't bad" category of flawless logic. I don't like so much.

American regulators are once again flailing at payola in music, where it poses no great threat to society, while ignoring influence-peddling in news and information, where the corruption of public discussion is of potentially grave consequence.

American regulators are flailing at a whole bunch of stuff that doesn't matter, as the recent spate of news coverage on legislative pork will attest. That doesn't mean we don't have the time or resources to fight payola and "influence-peddling in news and information." Btw, whatever happened to Judith Miller -- isn't she still in the news? Aren't people talking about this?

As Mr Stanton was keenly aware, market competition – not government prosecutors – will draw the lines that matter.

This falls into the "If it's capitalist, it must be good" category of flawless logic. People can't buy what they never hear! Isn't that the point?? My goodness, I've had enough, pro-giant-corporation unthinking for the day, and enough writing on the music industry that's more concerned with industry than with music. I don't know why it makes me so angry, but it does.


Blogger Ian said...

"market competition – not government prosecutors – will draw the lines that matter."

Gah. Shit like this is why an old friend of mine who is now a libertarian and I get into constant arguments. Such a piece of crap argument.

And it's kind of sad that we need to keep reminding people that popularity /= quality, either directly or inversely.

Still, keep fighting the good fight, m'man.

2:28 PM  

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