Implications of Payola…

Payola still exists.  Now what?When you think of payola, it’s not uncommon to think back to the olden days of radio when manila envelopes arrive at stations not-so-secretly stuffed with stacks of cash enticing program directors and DJs to play that ‘new hit.’

But payola has been an ever-present reality in the radio industry for years. To many it came as no surprise then late last week when the FCC ruled against the top labels and radio station conglomerates such as Clear Channel for providing stations with kickbacks for the music they play. It is obviously still big business with lots of money at stake here, so when such a ruling comes out, its sure to send ripples through the already hurting industry.

One such ripple is the ruling that stations must devote a large chunk of airplay to independent artists… for FREE! This in some ways might be a huge boost to all those indie rockers and jazzers out there who scramble to even a bit of air play. But for once it might actually benefit the listener (that is, the music consumer and fan) who in the last decade or so has been forced to retreat to alternate methods of being exposed to new and quality music (i.e. the internet, iPods, satellite radio and so on).

For an industry that is so hellbent on resisting change and evolution to new business models and distribution (i.e. the internet, DRM-less digital music, file sharing, affordable records and on and on and on…) could this actually save the RIAA from itself?

All people really want is good music…so is this democratizing the radio a first step to something bigger? So what are the implications and where do we go from here? Check out the following tidbits I’ve collected that help explain the ruling and what it all means. What do you think? Let us know.

NPR’s Talk of the Nation discussed payola ruling.

New York Times discusses fines and also provides some historical context.

Stereogum and Pitchfork discuss from the indie rock perspective.

The Hollywood Reporter discusses settlement as well.

Salon’s series on Clear Channel from awhile back.

Finally get an explanation on what’s so wrong about payola from a Slate article from a few summers ago.

UPDATE 3\19:  It appears that potential the increased fees for internet radio has hacked off a few other entities, namely NPR. Check out this blog entry to see how it might affect them.