If you can read this, either the style sheet didn't load or you have an older browser that doesn't support style sheets. Try clearing your browser cache and refreshing the page.

(Salon)   Music companies bribe DJs to play their music   ( salon.com) divider line
    More: Interesting  
•       •       •

1529 clicks; posted to Main » on 24 Jul 2001 at 8:04 AM (16 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

62 Comments     (+0 »)

Oldest | « | 1 | 2 | » | Newest | Show all

2001-07-24 08:10:54 AM  
i thought this was
img.fark.netView Full Size
2001-07-24 08:15:00 AM  
You beat me to it...
2001-07-24 08:15:45 AM  
You beat me three it
2001-07-24 08:16:42 AM  
2001-07-24 08:24:06 AM  
You said it, we all think alike.
2001-07-24 08:37:17 AM  
At least we now know why CD's cost so much.
2001-07-24 08:39:34 AM  
Who posted this and why was he/she surprised? Why the hell else would we be hearing the crap on the radio that we do?
2001-07-24 08:40:19 AM  
Payola. They've been doing it since the 50s.
2001-07-24 08:42:10 AM  
Duh. Read "Hit Men" by Fredric Dannen. Not only is payola still rampant, but it's got heavy mafia ties as well. The Morris Levy interview in this book is almost straight out of a "Sopranos" episode.
But flux is right, this belongs under "Obvious". Case in point: "Get Your Freak On" by Missie Elliot. Granted, every other song on the radio proves payola is still rampant as well, but this is the one currently annoying me most. 9 times a night. 5 Days a week. For the next 3 months.
2001-07-24 08:50:42 AM  
Ahhhh..... so this explains Celeine Deon.
2001-07-24 09:05:02 AM  
nothing can explain Richie Kavanagh
2001-07-24 09:05:23 AM  
Gotta agree with the "obvious" here as well, it was my first thought when I saw the header.

2001-07-24 09:08:37 AM  
HAHAHAHA--- I already said all this last week, this has been going on for years.
2001-07-24 09:09:52 AM  
Those are real DJs, they're corporate shills. The only real DJs are the brothers and sisters who, like myself, tear ship up on the ones and twos. I could make an argument for college radio, too.

Most radio DJs are shiate and now you know why.

2001-07-24 09:10:34 AM  
I mean, those ARE NOT real DJs. Grr... I need to read my shiat before posting it. *sigh*
2001-07-24 09:49:07 AM  
i always thought they were told what to play more by programming execs by what people want to hear and what will keep people listening...
2001-07-24 10:31:17 AM  
This is precisely why we need to stop buying CD's and see how long the "payola" keeps happening. Every time you buy a $15.00 CD, that's about $13.00 pure profit for the label that produces it... even if an album only has a modest success (250,000 copies sold), that is still three and a quarter million dollars of pure gravy that goes in the pocket of the label... Now if you take an artist like Mariah Carey, who easily sells a million or two copies of every album she squeezes out, you are talking about a LOT of "payola".

These people shake down artists with their distribution monopoly. People always criticize, saying "the artist knew what they were getting into when they signed the contract", and that is true... but what many don't realize is that that is pretty much the only way to make a decent living in the music business, because these creeps own the whole distribution model from A to Z...

If we don't like how these jerks do business, we need to speak to them with the only language they understand: MONEY.

We need to stop feeding their money machine and stop buying the crap they are dishing out.

They shut down Napster, and now they point at the OTHER MP3 trading systems out there and blame them for reduced sales... but that is pretty blind.

The reduced sales come from the loss of the free promotion they were getting from Napster allowing people to sample music for free, 50,000,000 times a day. That goes away, suddenly I am not able to hear the other tracks on the CD I was thinking of buying... suddenly I think "Well... I'd buy it if I could conveniently hear something OTHER THAN the one song they've been playing to death on the radio... but Napster doesn't work, and I don't feel like learning a new system, so I ain't buying it."

There are 20,000,000 people doing that. Sure, a few have defected to other systems, but most of us are doing what I just diagrammed.

These labels better find a new racket, or they had better learn a better way to play this game... because they have been sinking for years and didn't even realize it.
2001-07-24 10:31:56 AM  
There's a tricky cause/effect relationship, though. People want to hear something familiar and comforting, and to a certain extent that means they want to hear what they've heard many times on the radio. Radio stations both teach people what to like, and also take advantage by playing what they like.

If you don't believe me, consider the kind of stuff that was on the radio in (say) the early 80s. There are some new wave classics that would never get airplay today -- but at the time, people wanted to listen to them because they were played a lot. I mean, can you imagine a radio station playing something like Gary Numan's "Cars" today?
2001-07-24 10:31:58 AM  

Sheesh... I didn't mean to leave my rant tag open like that...
2001-07-24 10:33:50 AM  
(I mean, obviously an 80s station would play it. But who would play something as different to today's mainstream as "Cars" was to what was around in its day?)
2001-07-24 10:35:48 AM  
BTW, I've been drinking my morning coffee out of a mug that says "BOYCOTT RIAA" on it for about the last year or so... I think the site is still up... I haven't been out to it for a while. Anybody who's interested in what I just ranted about should check it out.

2001-07-24 10:37:44 AM  
And HERE is a list of RIAA-affiliated labels to boycott.
2001-07-24 10:39:29 AM  
A couple of oldies radio stations around the Vancouver BC area play Gary Numan's "Cars" on a regular basis. As soon as I heard Flock of Seagulls "I Ran" being played as an oldie I knew I was getting old.
2001-07-24 10:48:58 AM  
Qwerty2 Flock of what?
2001-07-24 10:59:20 AM  
Demo you're smoking something when you said "Every time you buy a $15.00 CD, that's about $13.00 pure profit for the label that produces it"

Think about it. You are saying that the studio's overhead and the store's overhead & profit are <$2.00. Why the hell would a store bother carrying anything with that low a margin?

Now, if you buy directly from the studios, you're probably right.
2001-07-24 11:14:49 AM  
Rpm, if you get a CD from Best Buy, or another large-stock discounter (like Target, for instance), there practically IS no profit margin... they don't have much markup because they make up for it in volume of CD's sold.

And as for buying CD's directly from labels goes... how many people here have ever bought anything through a CD/Tape club before? How do you guys think these companies can afford giving away "12 CD's for a penny", just for signing you up to an agreement to purchase another 6 or 8 over two years time?

It's because the actual CD's themselves cost them less than a buck to make... they more than make that up by selling 6 or 8 other CD's at a "regular" price.

But what about the cost of running studios? What about the cost of promotion? You ask?

Artists eat that. When an artist signs a record deal, they have to pay back the label for studio time. They have to pay back the label for promotional costs, including the costs of videos, radio spots, single releases, etc. They have to pay the label back for "label management" fees. They have to pay the label back for "production staff" for the album, including sound engineers, producers (who work at rates of hundreds of dollars an hour, sometimes thousands of dollars an hour, if you get a big name, like Bob Rock).

All that is basically money they recoup from the artists from record sales. And that doesn't take long. Ordinarily, for the label to break even on your average album release, they only need to sell 80,000 or 90,000 copies of it at the usual price of $15-$18 ... that's a drop in the bucket for a moderate act... most bigger labels' average artists will sell that in the first few days of an album's release.

Oh, usually the artist will get a little cut from CD sales, but it's normally no more than 7 or 8%... anybody making 10% or more of the sales is hot shiat or has a pretty awesome management/legal team.
2001-07-24 11:22:54 AM  
BTW, the artists typically pay back their advance/studio costs/label costs out of the 7-10% cut they get... which obviously takes a while. Usually a band or artist needs to sell around 100,000 copies or more before this is paid off... usually more... before they make any profit from CD sales themselves, and even then it isn't exactly an extravagant amount. This is why you see bands like Everclear, for instance, who are pretty popular in the US, touring almost constantly... they hardly make enough to live on if all you count is the money they get from their album sales. Most money bands and artists make come from their tours and band merchandise with their name on it. And sometimes, depending on the deal they may have with the label they are signed to, they might not even be able to make much from the merchandise, because sometimes the label actually owns the band's name and imagery/logos...
2001-07-24 11:33:59 AM  
I think your point is true Demo, you may be understating the costs to the labels (promotion, distribution, cocaine, whores, lear jets). I don't have any specifics to point to, but I don't think the actual numbers would take away from your point anyway so its really irrelevant.

The cost to produce and distribute CDs is much smaller than LPs were. Besides the production going from around $5 for an LP to less than $1 for a CD, CDs are smaller lighter and less likely to be damaged which means shipping, storage, and display costs are significantly less. Why then does a CD cost $15 when an LP would cost $14.50 today ($7.99 in 1982 inflated to todays prices through the inflation calcualtor at http://www.westegg.com/inflation/). Just the production costs should reduce the price to around $11.

Your point about the music clubs though is missing a major factor. While you get 12 CDs for a penny, you pay $4-$5 per CD for shipping and handling. The cost of shipping 12 CDs is about $3. That means the handling for filling the order and packing it in a box is around $57. Since this work is done by people making around $5/hour there's a lot left over for profit.
2001-07-24 11:36:27 AM  
i've bought 3 cds since 1997. :D
2001-07-24 11:42:42 AM  
also, i wanna know who submitted this so i can beat them for not already knowing this obvious fact.

download your music. it's the only way.
2001-07-24 11:42:57 AM  
I believe it is called Payola. Do really think some of the schick on the radio is what the public wants to hear?
The fat bastards at the big record companies are totally without a concept of what good music is.
2001-07-24 11:44:12 AM  
actually, with the record clubs, they just sell the surplus cds they get from the record companies. thats why you never find any new popular cds on their lists.

just another 0.02
2001-07-24 11:49:41 AM  
I think you may have misunderstood my profit model there...

Basically put, the more CD's a label can sell from an act, the larger their profit margin gets. As I mentioned before, production and promotion costs get eaten by the artist, recouped in their "share" of sales, so what is honestly left for true "overhead" for the label? Diddly!

Granted, if an album doesn't sell well, they don't recoup their costs, right?

Wrong. As I mentioned before, even if an album was considered a "failure" in sales by today's standards, the people who don't recoup their costs are usually the artists... because they are still responsible in the end for paying back the label for their "advance", contractually, whether the album sells a million or only a hundred thousand.

However, the label still has its margin, so even if it only sells a hundred thousand, the label has actually shown a profit, even if the band is scrambling to pay back their advance from the paltry percentage of CD sales and whatever money they can reap from touring.

Labels are like banks, when it comes down to it. They "risk" production/promotional costs on someone they know damned well they can market -- otherwise they don't sign you, or if they DO sign you, they sign you to a deal that gives them complete ownership of whatever you produce, and they'll deal with it later if they decide they can make any money off of it -- and then they get those costs back from the artists themselves, regardless of how well the album performs... Basically put, when it comes down to it, they don't technically HAVE "overhead"... pretty good racket, when you look at who's actually paying for things, and who'se making the bulk of the cash...
2001-07-24 11:51:36 AM  
"who'se"? Sheesh... I need some coffee...
2001-07-24 11:55:40 AM  
Check out this site... this guy explains it so much better than I can...
2001-07-24 11:58:07 AM  
The best radio is college radio. The best, and only, college radio station by me got bought out by some corporate assholes who are in love with Alanis Morissete.
2001-07-24 01:07:53 PM  
Ummm, isn't payola legal as long as the money is declared and taxes are paid on it? I think the only illegal part of this is tax evasion.
2001-07-24 01:38:44 PM  

Somebody mentioned GARY NUMAN!!

And it wasn't ME!
2001-07-24 01:43:50 PM  
Since most radio stations are now owned by large corporations that own multiple stations (Clear channel being the worst offender) and dictate play lists this is a pretty easy set up. One corporation pays another, you get widespread distribution by paying only a few key players and everyone is happy. Well, everyone except the consumer and since they don't know any better what the hell, they think they are happy, so they must be.
2001-07-24 02:11:30 PM  
Demos: Thanks for all the links and info. Steve Albini is great!

As for radio. Listen to NPR or college radio, don't listen to commercial radio, it's mostly advertisements anyway. As for the RIAA, true it is evil and controlled by BMG, Vivendi/Universal, and AOL/Time Warner, but some of the labels actually aren't owned by these conglomerates. Some of these labels had to sign on to survive. Kudos to the lables who have avoided the RIAA, like Dischord Records, but the ones that had to sell their souls aren't completely evil, and many of the bands on these labels still put out some good stuff. But then again, maybe you're right and I should just boycott every label listed on the list, I'm sure that will get the huge music conglomerates to change their ways.
2001-07-24 02:21:42 PM  
Thanks, Pbsaurus... I'm just really tired of seeing bands that I like get eaten alive by record labels that refuse to release their work unless they play ball, and I am sick to death of the crap they keep pumping out in the interests of the lowest common denominator, when they are the only game in town.

Personally I have no qualms about a business whose model maximizes profitability... I wouldn't be a very good Libertarian if I was opposed to that concept.

But we don't have a competitive marketplace here. We have a tight organization of labels, controlled by the three or four biggest ones, all engaging in price-fixing and other unethical practices in order to maintain their lock on distribution for music/entertainment. They have been lining the pockets of politicians for so long that they've got Congress on their side, passing laws like the DMCA that gives them the power to absolutely GANK anybody that dares to defy them in ways that most of us would not consider completely unreasonable... and they used their considerable clout to basically kill off a service like Napster, which arguably actually HELPED their sagging sales for the past couple of years... simply because they did not have 100% control over the digital distribution model, and they will wield that heavy weapon towards ANYBODY that might threaten to take that advantage away from them.

What they don't seem to have realized is that it is already the beginning of the end for them, unless they adapt and stop alienating their own customers.
2001-07-24 02:39:55 PM  
Demos: Hear you loud and clear. This brings us to the bigger problem. The politicians are owned by interests such as these, but that would be a whole other rant.
2001-07-24 03:36:37 PM  
I have a friend who is an A&R man for Warner Bros. music.
He says that most bands get about ten cents for every cd sold.
He also says that each year the major labels choose several bands on their labels that have been on for a while and heavily promote them to boost sales. There are tons of bands signed to major labels that you never hear about. Most are dropped if their albums don't sell well. The ones that break even or show a small profit are the ones that they do this to. Blues Traveler is a prime example. We haven't heard much from them since "Runaround" was such a big hit. They were promoted for that album and only that one. The label made gobs of money and moved on to the next band. Blues Traveler still sounds great but aren't heavily promoted by their label.
NPR R00lz
2001-07-24 04:57:01 PM  
"they hardly make enough to live on if all you count is the money they get from their album sales. Most money bands and artists make come from their tours and band merchandise with their name on it"

Which is why claiming Napster is hurting bands financially is a load of shiat, Lars.
2001-07-24 05:06:36 PM  
NPR lobbied with these megalocorps to keep low frequency radio (diversity) off the airwaves.
2001-07-24 05:46:24 PM  
The biggest "hurt", financially speaking, to bands and artists now days is the RIAA. The only artists you will find backing the RIAA's stance on the DMCA and Napster are generally the ones who have financial interest in a label of their own, or who own publishing rights or a publishing organization that they have financial incentive in defending the "status quo" for... look at Dr. Dre. He falls into that category... Metallica falls into that category. And those are the two most vocal "artists" that are anti-Napster.
2001-07-24 05:58:06 PM  
Even if Napster's dead, I'm glad we still have AudioGalaxy.
2001-07-24 06:17:26 PM  
Ugh. I hate capitalism. It just brings out the worst in people.
2001-07-24 06:34:35 PM  
metallica is one of the bands getting a good cut of their sales.

there is also plenty of payola happpening at the college stations, too.
2001-07-24 06:45:29 PM  
Not all college stations though. KDVS in Davis, KALX in Berkeley, and KFJC in Los Altos all are free form and the DJs get to decide what they play. All three stations will have different and bizzare stuff on no matter when you tune in.
Displayed 50 of 62 comments

Oldest | « | 1 | 2 | » | Newest | Show all

This thread is archived, and closed to new comments.

Continue Farking

On Twitter

Top Commented
Javascript is required to view headlines in widget.
  1. Links are submitted by members of the Fark community.

  2. When community members submit a link, they also write a custom headline for the story.

  3. Other Farkers comment on the links. This is the number of comments. Click here to read them.

  4. Click here to submit a link.