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This article states:

Because of this, a very large majority of DJs are cut out of the song-picking decisions and are instead told what to play and when (for the most part) by music directors and/or "higher ups" at their radio stations.

I don't know where this writer has been for the past three decades. Bill Drake was telling the jocks what to play and when in the late '60s! Back then, the talent was given a paper log or card file of titles to play; today it is all done by computer based on the latest focus-group research. Only in college radio and a very few surviving (mostly non-commercial) "freeform" stations do the jocks have any say in the music. (Of course, the MD often pulls down a jock shift as well.) 121a0012 02:52, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

That statement doesn't imply that there is anything new about the situation, so I don't see any problem with it as is. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .
The statement implies that "promotion payments" (the referent of "this", in the previous paragraph) are the proximate cause of jocks not picking the songs, which is flat-out false. If I had a good verifiable source (rather than simply knowing how the business works) I'd replace that statement with an explanation of why this is a common misconception. (The RCS Web site used to have an explanation, but I can't find it any more.) 121a0012 01:46, 18 May 2006 (UTC)
If its declared, its not payola, its advertisement. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:45, 26 September 2012 (UTC)

So taking the task of picking music away from (so called) "disk jockeys" and giving it to someone else guards against corrupt DJ's taking payola money. So whats to stop the payola money going to someone else ? 09:30, 17 June 2007 (UTC)

The entire article gives the impression that Payola is illegal from the start. It's not. The illegality of it comes into play when those payments (whether they be in the form of money, services, or gifts) go undeclared as income by those who accept it in exchange for playing a record, whereas the taxes on those payments go unpaid. That's what got dj's like Alan Freed into trouble. Again, Payola in itself is not illegal. It is the abuse of it that is illegal. FredClem (talk) 08:24, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

In my experience, payola is typically only used to refer to the illegal version of this procedure. The legal version is called 'promotional consideration' or something similar.Eaglizard (talk) 22:21, 15 January 2013 (UTC)

Merger would be wrong[edit]

Pay to play is a distinct term from payola. Payola means paying for radio play, pay to play refers to paying for playing a live show.

Payola is also known as 'pay for play', but 'pay to play' is having to pay for playing a live gig. Agreed that merger would be a bad idea

Payola is also a sometimes illegal act covered by Federal law; pay-to-play has always been perfectly legal.Eaglizard (talk) 22:22, 15 January 2013 (UTC)


Payola leads to smaller artists, poorer record companies and broke but talented producers being unable to get radio play. It is a shame that the same records and record companies continue to control the airwaves due to illegal payola acts! What's just as disgusting is that the airwaves are supposed to be PUBLIC owned, yet radio stations and billion dollar conglomerates continue to make money off the public airwaves while charging struggling artists money to get on the very air that the public owns. What a travesty. The FCC is sleeping on the job. Or does the FCC work for the conglomerates and not the people? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .

I think you answered your own question there with that last one. Rummy

Dropping Globalise template[edit]

This is an article about an American business practice in the American music industry. There is nothing in here (and no necessary evidence) to suggest justification for the globalise template. I'm thus dropping it, because there is no need for it, until someone can explain otherwise. Brokenwit 04:39, 21 February 2007 (UTC)

I agree. Payola might be in existence in other countries, but it has not received the publicity that the practice has in the US; therefore it would be really difficult to find sources for a "globalized" article. SoundStone 08:31, 22 February 2007 (UTC)


What is the timeframe of payola? The Alan Freed article mentions the scandal as being in the 60's, but when did payola start, when did it end - if it has ended? The article does not address these questions. Kevs 04:52, 14 March 2007 (UTC)

Yes, the History section of this entry really needs some work!

Legality of payola ?[edit]

Has payola always been illegal in the USA. IIRC in Freed's time it was not actually illegal (as long as the payments were disclosed to the IRS) but widely considered to be unethical. 09:30, 17 June 2007 (UTC)


How about a section on the exchange of "gifts" (other than money) or drugs to radio station staff for airplay. 09:36, 17 June 2007 (UTC)

Why is Payola Illegal?[edit]

I just read this article after coming across the topic in an economics class. I notice that there is no explicit description of why the practice is illegal or who is is alleged to harm. There are a couple references to musicians not getting the play that they paid for. This would seem to fall into the general category of breach of contract (and would thus be enforcable by standard contract law without a particular law against Payola). The question then becomes, assuming the contract is properly honored by both parties, who is being harmed by Payola? If it's the listners, couldn't they switch to another radio station if they don't like it? In fact, listners may prefer to listen to Payola-involved stations as they could have a chance to hear new music. What about markets where there are no laws against Payola - perhaps other countries or emerging new technologies. I don't know how Apple picks the bands it places most prominently on iTunes but if it receives payment, would this not constitute the same sort of action? Are listeners of iTunes damaged? If so, isn't their decision to use (or not use) iTunes a more accurate economic signal to Apple than a rigid and aribtrary law? Lawlorg 16:56, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

Economic models tend to assume perfect information on both sides of a transaction. A form of payola is still legal in the United States: according to the article, I can buy 3 minutes of ad time on a radio station and play a song, as long as I say "Paid for by Damian Yerrick". But if the listeners are not told that a given song is an ad and not a spin, this introduces an information asymmetry that can distort listeners' perception of the song. And no, there's often no close substitute to payola within the AM and FM bands because of the limited amount of government-granted spectrum that common receivers can receive and the high cost difference between AM/FM receivers and, say, cellular Internet radio receivers. --Damian Yerrick (talk | stalk) 02:25, 31 October 2007 (UTC)

In answer to your last question, online record stores charge fees to record companies to get their records up front. This is perfectly legal. The same is true of physical stores, such as Best buy and Wal-Mart, who also ask for fees (as high as $50,000.00) in order to get good placement for CDs and DVDs. This is also legal. (Tower Records, on the other hand, never accepted this kind of "payola" in its hey day, but of course, Tower was driven out of business by falling CD sales.) ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 11:32, 13 February 2009 (UTC)

The illegality of Payola is simple. Payola in itself is not illegal. It is when those payments (whether they be in the form of money, services, or gifts) go undeclared as income, and the taxes on those payments go unpaid. It's not complicated. It's the abuse of Payola that is illegal, just as with anything else. FredClem (talk) 08:42, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

Payola is illegal under US law because it is thought to harm listeners. Listerner ares assumed to think that DJs select songs on the basis on their quality. Selecting songs on the basis of recieved payments is a breach of that trust and the US legislator has seen fit to outlaw that breach. It has nothing to do with declared or undeclared income whatsoever. Bokken | 木刀 21:29, 20 December 2010 (UTC)
What possible "harm" can it do to listeners? Quality of a song has nothing to do with it, as that is entirely subjective to the individual. If anything, "Popularity" would be the rule (as in Top 40 radio), and then only on radio that is formatted as such. There is nothing wrong with playing any record so long as it abides by the individual stations policy and format, and that the station abides by the rules of copyright and such. The audience has a choice of listening or not. The entire article is misleading in that it begins with making Payola an illegal action, which it is not by definition. It works the same way with advertising. Advertisers pay stations to run their ads, which are mainly focused on the demographic audience the station is trying to attract for the sake of those advertisements. If what you say is true, then advertising would be illegal as well. Radio is a business just like any other. It's in business to make money. When it crosses the line of accepting funds illegally (as in undeclared income), it crosses the line. FredClem (talk) 05:58, 21 December 2010 (UTC)
I don't know where anyone would get the idea that "The entire article is misleading in that it begins with making Payola an illegal action, which it is not by definition." I don't think "making" or "by definition" (or even "payola") mean what FredClem seems to think they mean. So, to be clear: Broadcasting any programming over a radio station in the United States, in exchange for any valuable consideration, without announcing on the air who provided or paid for it, is a federal crime for which a person involved can get a year in prison and a $10,000 fine. That's not counting the rather large additional administrative fines ("forfeitures") the regulated stations and other participants face. And note that, except for section 317, the laws apply to almost any broadcast originator or cable program originator, not just a radio station, and the rules are not limited to music. See:
As far as I know, none of these cases mention whether or not the financial arrangements were disclosed to the IRS. It's not about taxes; it's about the public knowing when they're hearing something issued by a sponsor. --Closeapple (talk) 09:04, 21 December 2010 (UTC)

Payola the NZ based band?[edit]

Would anyone mind if I created a page for this band? They get quite a lot of airplay on NZ radio. Would the correct place be Payola (the band) or similar? Cheers, --Dan|(talk) 19:54, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

I suggest Payola (band). QuinnHK (talk) 20:43, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
Cheers, I'll band it up ;-) Just as soon as I get round to it :D Thanks again, --Dan|(talk) 08:54, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

Why "Pay-to-play" in the same article as "Payola"?[edit]

I think that the "Pay-to-play" section should not be here. After discussing so much about payola, readers may get the impression that pay-to-play is a bad thing. Maybe the original author thinks so, but I disagree. Open for discussion... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:14, 9 August 2008 (UTC)

French article[edit]


The article on the French-speaking Wikipedia has been enriched with a review of the economic litterature on the subject. Since I translated large parts of the English article as a starting point, I thought it may be interesting to integrate that addition in the current article. Most (if not all) of the references of the French article are in English. Bokken | 木刀 09:43, 17 September 2009 (UTC)


The line on examples of payola on GTA - Vice City says "an inverted payola scheme" where music pays the DJs. How is this inverted? Normally it's the music manager who pays the DJ, with cash from the musicians' budget. No inversion whatsoever. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:41, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

I agree. It's somewhat different, in that the musician is apparently paying instead of the musician's record label, but that's not a fundamental distinction. It's certainly not an "inversion" of the usual scenario. Captain Quirk (talk) 03:13, 4 February 2011 (UTC)

"The Spirit of Radio"?[edit]

I'm wondering if "The Spirit of Radio" by the Canadian progressive-rock band Rush is at least partly about the practice of payola. The lyrics include the following lines:

...It's really just a question of your honesty, yeah your honesty
One likes to believe in the freedom of music
But glittering prizes and endless compromises
Shatter the illusion of integrity
For the words of the prophets were written on the studio wall
Concert hall
And echoes with the sounds of salesmen,
Of salesmen,
Of salesmen!

Sure seems like it to me. Anybody know if "payola" was the inspiration for this song? Captain Quirk (talk) 03:47, 4 February 2011 (UTC)

Payola is illegal[edit]

Can anyone find a reference where payola does NOT refer to the practice of not disclosing payments to the public? When the payments are properly disclosed per law, then it is paid advertisement, and not payola. The term payola pretty much exclusively refers to the now-illegal practice, IMO.Eaglizard (talk) 22:29, 15 January 2013 (UTC)

Double Dead Kennedy Reference[edit]

This should be cleaned up — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:55, 22 May 2013 (UTC)