Can Payola Save Internet Radio?

A Silicon Alley Insider op-ed piece by Doug Perison of net radio ad network TargetSpot advocates for what I think has to be one of the worst ideas I’ve heard in a long time: saving internet radio by selling sponsored song plays.

Internet radio is struggling under new draconian royalty demands; and unlike broadcast radio, payola is  probably legal on the net.  I can even imagine broadcasters would add identifying sponsor tags. None of that makes this a good idea.

People listen to music on the net to escape broadcast radio’s "ick" factor created by endless ads, hype-driven DJ’s, overproduced promos.  To bring any hint of that  to internet radio is a huge mistake.  If you want to help internet radio, fight the royalty rates or better yet waive any royalty payment at all from select broadcasters. It may not earn Don a commission, but it will keep millions from switching stations yet again.

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  1. This is terrible. I mean, the article is right: this would make internet radio successful, but only in the sense that it would turn a profit.
    The author is just flat out lying by claiming that this is going to create a level playing field for independent and major label artists.
    The author assumes that internet radio wants to be like broadcast radio, and I’d like to see him cite a few sources when it comes to how bad the internet radio industry is doing.
    I don’t assume for a moment that it’s doing great, but couldn’t advertisers and proper marketing skills fix these “problems”?
    Look at this garbage:
    “With sponsored music as an advertising option, the large online station can afford to pay their bills while maintaining a strong listener experience.”
    I’d RATHER hear a 30-second commercial, to be honest. How ISN’T a paid song NOT a long winded commercial with chords and lyrics, anyway? The song is paid for in the name of selling CDs just like the commercial would be paid for in the name of selling something else.
    The internet radio industry is never going to die–you know, literally DIE. Just like music downloading is never going to end the practice of creating new music.
    If internet radio is going to profit big, it needs to grow up and considering things like promotions, advertisements, sales, and the lot. But it must do this while maintaining and pushing what makes it different from broadcast radio: Musical and artistic independence.
    Who says you can’t be artistically independent and make good money? There are people out there screaming to hear something new and interesting; internet radio just has to get out there and find them.

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