Respected LA Times music writer Robert Hilburn writes that "...it's naive to think payola is responsible for the music that gets on the radio. In other words, it's going to take more than Eliot Spitzer to stop the commercial juggernaut of hip-hop and R&B."
"...Mainstream radio stations play hip-hop, R&B and teen pop because that's what target audiences want to hear. The payola settlement isn't likely to change that."
"...Trust me, Sony and other major labels aren't interested in keeping anything off the air. They are interested in selling records. They'd release an album of dog howls if they thought it would go platinum."
"...The hip-hop revolution didn't start because record executives suddenly took a fancy to the renegade sound. Hip-hop artists sold millions of albums on indie labels before most major labels woke up to the music's potential. It was a repeat of what happened in the '50s, when rock 'n' roll too was born on indie labels."
"The power in determining hits rests with the public, and no one knows this better than radio programmers."
"...That's not to say that promotion (including practices in violation of anti-payola laws) can't help an individual new record worm its way onto radio playlists; of course it can. But the record won't stay there unless listeners accept it. If you could guarantee a hit through payola, major labels wouldn't have to drop artists left and right because of poor sales."
"...One better way to spend the promotion money would be greater tour support, which should help rock acts who have the most trouble getting mainstream airplay these days, or long-term career development. Many of the major rock acts of recent years, including Bruce Springsteen and U2, depended in their early days more on touring than on radio."
"...The more likely scenario is that executives will soon be back with new promotional schemes that again test the boundaries of payola..."
READ THE FULL LA TIMES ARTICLE HERE.
Robert Hilburn, pop music critic of The Times, can be reached at Robert.firstname.lastname@example.org