• 07-23-2005, 09:13 AM
    MindGoneHaywire
    Sony BMG settles with NY State Atty General (see this, Barry?)
    Anyone still care to insinuate that major labels don't pay mob-connected independent promotion specialists to control what gets played on the radio? I'm not interested in debating anything else the NY State Atty General has ever done, because it has nothing to do with this issue. If you think that it would make sense for a record label to settle if no wrongdoing had occurred, given the evidence that this is a widespread illegal practice dating back decades--plenty of evidence--then perhaps you could explain why.

    I don't care if Eliot Spitzer did 99 things that are or were misguided, self-promotional, wrongheaded, or even destructive, because those would then be debated on their own merits...in another thread, and probably on another board. This is one thing that has been accomplished that is a longtime wrong that is hopefully on its way to being corrected. The dynamics & infrastructure of the music industry have changed radically, of course, but that doesn't mean allowing something like this to continue is or should be considered valid policy. And I don't have much sympathy for shareholders of the controlling entities of these labels. If they didn't know this sort of thing was going on & that there might be some fallout from the eventual discovery & investigations (that nobody in Congress ever followed through on, despite lots of bluster from politicians who typically kept quiet after being lobbied), blaming the authorities--as was done previously in other threads on this topic--for overreaching is simply not valid. Maybe in some mutual funds case, but certainly not here.

    Not that Sony BMG's stock is likely to tank, anyway. This will likely be handled quietly across the board and any potential effect will probably be little more than an afterthought within a few quarters. Then again, I could be wrong. In which case some of the music that some of the people on this board happen to like might even find its way onto commercial radio in the U.S.

    Well, maybe that's a reach.

    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-f...,4233398.story
  • 07-25-2005, 07:06 AM
    BarryL
    Seems to be another Spitzer injustice
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MindGoneHaywire
    Anyone still care to insinuate that major labels don't pay mob-connected independent promotion specialists to control what gets played on the radio?

    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-f...,4233398.story


    Thanks for the post.

    1. I'm not sure Sony BMG is connected to the mob.

    2. Spitzer has a very poor record when it comes to winning in court. Unfortunately, as he knows, it's easier for BMG to submit to Spitzer's blackmail tactics than go to court. If they aren't guilty they should go to court anyway. Note that a settlement is not considered by the Attorney General's Office to be an admission of guilt.

    3. Sony's fine is said by anonymous insider who is gulty of breach of confidentiality and is likely committing a crime by talking to the press (and likely from Spitzer's office), is said to be $10 million. Other companies expect to be finedd "in proportion to each company's share of the U.S. market." Sounds like a shakedown, not justice.

    4. Most importantly, to quote the LA Times: "Those intermediaries have long been suspected of passing payments to deejays in exchange for airplay of specific songs. Such payments would violate a federal statute known as the payola law, which prohibits broadcasters from taking cash or anything of value in exchange for playing specific songs unless they disclose the transaction to listeners."

    If this is the law, then Spitzer is unjustly persecuting the wrong people. The law appears to apply specifically to broadcasters, of which Sony BMG isn't. The criminals are the DJs who don't reveal to listeners that they have accepted payment. It seems Spitzer isn't that interested in the actual law, though. According to the LA Times, "When Spitzer's investigation was revealed in October, sources said radio stations and promoters themselves had not been subpoenaed."

    Once again Spitzer appears to be abusing the law to fill the coffers of the New York State treasury.
  • 07-25-2005, 03:42 PM
    MindGoneHaywire
    I didn't even have the time to reply properly to this before Billboard & a news outlet reported the following:

    "Please be advised that in this week's Jennifer Lopez Top 40 Spin Increase of 236 we bought 63 spins at a cost of $3,600."

    "Please be advised that in this week's Good Charlotte Top 40 Spin Increase of 61 we bought approximately 250 spins at a cost of $17K …"


    Those are internal memos from Sony reported by Fox News at

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,163537,00.html



    Then, Billboard says

    "Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein says Eliot Spitzer has given the Federal Communications Commission “an arsenal of smoking guns” to amp up federal payola enforcement."

    at

    http://www.billboardradiomonitor.com..._id=1000991291


    You seem to have this desire to make this about Spitzer. I've said from the beginning that it's NOT about him. The other misnomers in yr post I'll have to respond to later as I don't have the time right now, but maybe at SOME point you'll start to understand that this is not a Spitzer issue, it's a MUSIC BUSINESS issue. And regardless of his stance on OTHER issues, he's not only correct on this one, but the first to do anything meaningful about it in a long, long time. You want to complain about that, that's yr prerogative. In opposing Spitzer on this issue you may find out sooner than I thought what sort of individuals & entities you are choosing sides with.
  • 07-26-2005, 01:26 PM
    BarryL
    I Just Read What They Printed
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MindGoneHaywire
    You seem to have this desire to make this about Spitzer. I've said from the beginning that it's NOT about him. The other misnomers in yr post I'll have to respond to later as I don't have the time right now, but maybe at SOME point you'll start to understand that this is not a Spitzer issue, it's a MUSIC BUSINESS issue. And regardless of his stance on OTHER issues, he's not only correct on this one, but the first to do anything meaningful about it in a long, long time. You want to complain about that, that's yr prerogative. In opposing Spitzer on this issue you may find out sooner than I thought what sort of individuals & entities you are choosing sides with.

    I'm not denying that they paid money if that's what the evidence shows.

    What appears to be illegal, according to what was written in the newspaper link you provided, is not that they paid money, but that the disc jockey didn't report that he was paid money. The law cited appears to be clear that it was the radio station that broke the law, but the record company that was prosecuted. Perhaps the law was mistated in the newspaper link. But my reading is that Sptizer went after the wrong guys, according to the law that he has sworn to uphold. That doesn't surprise me based on his past behaviour. He knows where the money is.

    My position is that if what the record companies were doing was known to be illegal prior to the alleged criiminal act, then they ought to pay the fine. The law cited clearly states that accepting payola is a crime, not paying it.

    It's like prostitution in Ontario. Prostitution is legal, but paying for sex is a crime under the criminal code. Does this make sense? I don't think so, but I suppose the legislators decided to attack the demand side, not the supply side. I suppose they see prostitutes as victims and exploited. The result, like it or not, is that the John's go to jail and the prostitutes walk the streets. Looks like the way the payola act was written, like it or not, the bribers go free and the bribees go to jail.

    By the way, I'm not choosing sides with anyone here. You make it sound like one can choose arbitrarily. I'm trying to interpret the law as it was presented, and then deciding who is right and who is wrong. It sounds like Spitzer is wrong, not because he's persecuting big record companies, but because the law appears to indicate that the the radio stations have committed a crime, not the record companies. The principle I'm trying to apply is: the DA should prosecute those who break the law. It is not: the DA should prosecute those I disagree with or don't like or who have done things that I find morally reprehensible.
  • 07-27-2005, 05:00 AM
    MasterCylinder
    yes !
    I strongly agree both ways.

    I agree with Haywire that Sony got caught playing the same old game.

    I agree with Barry that Sony acts like a prostitute.

    Good argument guys.
  • 07-27-2005, 01:48 PM
    MindGoneHaywire
    >But my reading is that Sptizer went after the wrong guys, according to the law that he has sworn to uphold. That doesn't surprise me

    I say Barry reads it this way because he wants to due to his dislike of Spitzer. His reasons for this dislike IMO cloud his ability to examine the issue with much objectivity. Sure, you could say the newspaper article was vague. To assume, however, that only the radio stations are the ones who should be prosecuted is a mighty biased way of looking at it so far as I'm concerned. If you're going to tell me you didn't know that the label was equally complicit in what both federal and NY State law decree is illegal activity, then I'd question why you ever posted on the topic when this came to light some time ago. Are you kidding? You're going to read this article & then decide that this is a matter of Spitzer going after the wrong people? Weak.

    No, the law is pretty clear & Sony BMG is guilty as can be, and the evidence is there. For some people I guess it's got to be all about Spitzer, which might make sense in some alternate universe, but I don't know where that is. I happen to detest a good number of public officials with political aspirations higher than what they have yet achieved. But while I might be cynical to a point if I find them to happen to be on the same side I would take on an issue, I take note of it. Few people, and few politicians, are wrong 100% of the time, in my estimation. Nor are they right 100% of the time. Spitzer is no exception, and even if you're a zealot who simply has to oppose him on everything because of his record, that exposes the inabilty to examine an issue objectively. Viewing Spitzer as the villain here is beyond ludicrous. And the bribery aspect renders the prostitution analogy moot so far as I can see.

    Moreover, we're not talking about DJs being targeted as criminals, either--PDs are the ones who make the decisions as to what's played on the radio, not DJs. Are you kidding? DJs on commercial radio haven't had the freedom to work off a playlist in decades. But what I would wonder is how Barry would go about investigating this issue if he limited his scope to the PDs. Do you think they keep emails regarding the bribes they've accepted? You're not going to find records of personal gifts they accepted from indie promo men. No ledgers mentioning cash or drugs stuffed into the sleeve of a record or the case of a CD. No records of, yes, prostitutes hired for the pleasure of PDs who decide what labels get their records played. No books detailing personal gifts, vacations, favors. Now, if the radio stations were the only entities guilty of committing an illegal act here, then Barry would have a point, but how farfetched would it be to assume that this is a shakedown with an overzealous pol going after a company that has done no wrong? Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. The fact that Spitzer's track record is not great only underscores that there would be no reason for Sony BMG to settle if they had done no wrong. I'd certainly want my day in court if I were a principal or a shareholder. If I'm accused of a criminal act I am not guilty of--in this case Barry's assumption is that there is no criminal act involved on the part of Sony BMG based on the link--then you'd better believe I'm going to countersue for damages, especially if there's a power-hungry but inept AG pointing the finger. Regardless, if Spitzer were all wrong about this, there would've been an outcry from SOMEWHERE. Don't ya think?

    Yes, the law does state that not only must a radio station comply with federal payola statues, but record labels must heed these laws as well. Yes, what Sony BMG was doing was & is illegal in NY State as well. Sure makes sense to me that you go after the big corporation that has to be a lot more careful of keeping track of where their money is going because that's where you're going to find the evidence. As opposed to PDs who are the recipients, through middlemen notoriously referred to as indies (again. Read the book. Hit Men.), of laundered cash, gifts, sex, and drugs. Yeah, going after them without having any evidence in hand from the labels makes sense. Yeah. Sure.

    The irony here is that the people who are buying the records that are played on the radio with the help of payola--hell, at this point it's a fairly safe assumption that EVERY record that's played on the radio is only heard due to the practice (although Clear Channel did make a big deal over prohibiting it some time ago), and probably for at least 2 decades--probably wouldn't even care if the payments were disclosed. They'd probably just buy the records anyway. I mean, are they really going to discern a difference between the top 40, Country, & Urban R&B/Hip Hop records they're hearing & the ones that are not making the cut? I don't see it. Which means that all of this could've been avoided, but then again you're talking about a business model that had twisted itself into a big fat clusterf*ck a long time before they started howling about file-sharing. But it's a profitable clusterf*ck & will probably find a way to remain that way even as they resist the necessary changes that their customer base is forcing on them. ITunes was the first real breakthrough, the first sea change. And it will never stop changing, even if B&M stores & CDs themselves are eliminated in favor of MP3s, not that that's likely to happen anytime soon.

    Most of the music involved here is stuff that most of the people on this board do not have an active interest in, so far as I can see, although Darius listens to contemporary R&B. Regardless, the law was broken for years, and a guy Barry has a grudge against decided to do something about it, and Barry can't accept that the guy just might be correct in this one instance. I find this to be ridiculous, at least as ridiculous as the idea that he could've justified his investigation if the radio stations were indeed the only guilty parties.

    http://www.oag.state.ny.us/press/2005/jul/payola.pdf
  • 07-28-2005, 05:54 AM
    BarryL
    Thanks for the Filing
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MindGoneHaywire
    >But my reading is that Sptizer went after the wrong guys, according to the law that he has sworn to uphold. That doesn't surprise me

    I say Barry reads it this way because he wants to due to his dislike of Spitzer. His reasons for this dislike IMO cloud his ability to examine the issue with much objectivity.

    Yes, the law does state that not only must a radio station comply with federal payola statues, but record labels must heed these laws as well. Yes, what Sony BMG was doing was & is illegal in NY State as well.
    http://www.oag.state.ny.us/press/2005/jul/payola.pdf


    J, you need to write more concisely.

    Please, me not objective? Here's everything I know about the law you talk about, which was in the first article you provided a link for:

    "Those intermediaries have long been suspected of passing payments to deejays in exchange for airplay of specific songs. Such payments would violate a federal statute known as the payola law, which prohibits broadcasters from taking cash or anything of value in exchange for playing specific songs unless they disclose the transaction to listeners."

    I read this as saying that the law, and I quote, "prohibits broadcasters from taking cash or anything of value in exchange for playing specific songs unless they disclose the transactions to listeners." I didn't read anything about it being illegal to offer to pay for play.

    Then I cited a prostitution law that was similarly formulated, in which it was legal to accept money for sex, but illegal to pay money for sex. Note that the illegality of paying does not, in this case, make it illegal to accept the money, even though a crime has been committed by one party only.

    Then I admitted that I hadn't read the actual law.

    Then I said the AG should prosecute the party that broke the law, and the way the newspaper presented the law did not indicate that the record company committed an offense. I would have thought that in an article such as this, if the law was clear that the person paying the payola had committed a crime, that the article writer or editor would have included that.

    So, the only thing non-objective is your passion and antagonism to those who disagree with you.

    The proper response should have been to cite the law. I'm glad you posted the link. I'm sure that the AG's office cites the statute they believe to be transgressed. That will provide me with more facts to assess objectively and come to my own opinion, not yours, based on the facts in evidence. My views of Spitzer have nothing to do with my argument. Don't make me the whipping boy of your latent animosity towards the state of radio airplay in America.
  • 08-04-2005, 05:08 AM
    BarryL
    The Other Side of the Spitzer Story
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MindGoneHaywire
    I'm not interested in debating anything else the NY State Atty General has ever done.

    I don't care if Eliot Spitzer did 99 things that are or were misguided, self-promotional, wrongheaded, or even destructive...

    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-f...,4233398.story

    More on the destructiveness of Spitzer from a reputable source.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/1,,SB1...html?mod=TOPIC
  • 08-04-2005, 05:41 AM
    MindGoneHaywire
    The last paragraph is at least as important as the next-to-last one. When are you going to realize that this isn't about Spitzer? I guess you're not. Well, here's some more stuff:


    " Sony Music promo exec unknowingly sparked Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's major payola investigation when he started hitting on a woman at a poolside bar at a Miami hotel last year.

    The exec bragged about some of the excesses in his line of business, according to chatter in music industry circles.

    The executive must have felt pretty good, as the attentive woman probably hung on his every word. He must have thought he was spinning a Gold Record.

    But not so fast.

    It turns out the woman who was the object of his affection worked in Spitzer's office. "


    http://www.nypost.com/seven/07312005/business/51166.htm




    " PAYOLA HEAT'S ON DJS"


    The Attorney General's Office is investigating the role of radio stations in the emerging payola scandal — and could be weighing possible criminal charges, The Post has learned.

    But it's unclear whether New York state law allows for criminal or just civil penalties.

    Payola-busting statutes say that bribing radio personnel is a crime, though they don't make clear whether the bribe receiver is also breaking the law. State bribery laws might also apply, but they too are vague on whether both the payer and receiver are committing crimes.


    http://www.nypost.com/seven/07312005...news/51114.htm



    Oh, and...

    http://www.nypost.com/seven/08032005/business/51331.htm


    Oh, and BTW...

    http://www.calendarlive.com/music/hi...,6536513.story


    And...

    http://www.calendarlive.com/music/cl...0,904650.story

    Also...

    "Air time is often determined by undisclosed payoffs to radio stations and their employees," Spitzer said at a news conference. "This agreement (with Sony) is a model for breaking the pervasive influence of bribes in the industry."

    Not so, says Dave Universal, former program director at WKSE-FM 98.5, who called the Sony report "garbage," adding he was being made a "scapegoat."

    "All I'm going to say is what came out in the Sony report is a bunch of garbage," Universal stated in an e-mail response to The Buffalo News. "All three specific things they described are completely inaccurate.

    http://buffalonews.com/editorial/20050803/1007283.asp


    There's more, but that should be good for now...hmmm?
  • 08-04-2005, 08:21 AM
    BarryL
    The $10 million went to Charity
    Thanks for the links.

    I'm surprised that the $10 million settlement went to charity.

    Sounds like a political arrangement, not a criminal punishment, and certainly not an instance where there are any identifiable victims.

    But I'm happy that the ten million isn't going into the New York State treasury, given that there were no convictions or guilty pleas. I guess Spitzer has been taking too much heat on the issue of blackmailing CEOs, boards, and the shareholders they serve. Now when he runs for office he can feel good about the tens of millions of dollars "he" donated to charity, the good social altruist that he is. But surely that is an abuse of power, far worse than trying to influence a few djs with some gifts that even the writers of the articles you wrote are of the opinion that it doesn't make any difference in what succeeds on the radio. I hope New Yorkers have the moral integrity to know a scoundrel when they see one when it comes time to vote.
  • 08-04-2005, 09:30 AM
    Lifes-A-Blast
    add the fact major conglomerates in broadcast markets
    Since the passage of broadcast deregulation 15-17 yrs ago the consolidation of radio & tv markets under a few Major owners vs many independants in local markets had conrtibutes to the hum drum programing in major market areas . When 1 corporation can own 4-8 radio stations in 1 major market how much compititon can there really be. It gives the comglomate a way to market there dreck in different formats but it's all the same . They work to a format and program that way . the use of program service or consultants and there is only a few of those making decisions for everyone.
    Commerical radio is at all time new low with its pop dribble, appeal to the micomasses of misfits and idiots out there.Yeah I need pimple cream for my butt to be clear skined and use the hemmroid cream to get the bags out from under my eyes. And if I really not to secure I can have my breasts enlarged, and my 300 lbs of body fat liposuction to death.
    And then when they botch the job I got the perfect Lawyer Agency in callin 1-800-callsam.
    Payola, money promotions , and forcing the general public will always be there with big business behind it. You just have the sort out have beens and was nots from the real talent.
  • 08-09-2005, 08:49 PM
    MindGoneHaywire
    FCC Chairman calls for Federal Payola investigation