A Totally Subjective Round-Up of Brian Wilson/Beach Boys News, Gossip & Trivia

Monday, July 25, 2005

Record Company Shame


FOX NEWS

The following internal memos from Sony Music, revealed today in the New York state attorney general's investigation of payola at the company, will be mind blowing to those who are not so jaded to think records are played on the radio because they're good.

"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."

From Epic, home of J-Lo, a memo from Nov. 12, 2002, a "rate" card that shows radio stations in the Top 23 markets will receive $1000, Markets 23-100 get $800, lower markets $500. "If a record receives less than 75 spins at any given radio station, we will not pay the full rate," the memo to DJs states. "We look forward to breaking many records together in the future."

"We ordered a laptop for Donnie Michaels at WFLY in Albany. He has since moved to WHYI in Miami. We need to change the shipping address."

One Sony memo from 2002: "Can you work with Donnie to see what kind of digital camera he wants us to order?"

Another, from someone in Sony's Urban Promotion department: "I am trying to buy a walkman for Toya Beasley at WRKS/NY. Can PRS get it to me tomorrow by 3 p.m.? I really need to get the cd by then or I have to wait a week or two before she does her music again."

This one from Feb. 13, 2004: "Gave a jessica trip to wkse to secure Jessica Simpson spins and switchfoot."

From a Sony internal memo on Sept. 8, 2004: "Two weeks ago it cost us over 4000.00 to get Franz [Ferdinand] on WKSE."

NY TIMES

Investigators disclosed letters and e-mail messages showing the kinds of payoffs at issue. In a letter dated Feb. 6, 2003, a promotions executive lists songs that the company wants played and payment terms for each such "add" to a station's playlist. "We will continue to send you a weekly 'priority' sheet that will direct you and your staff accordingly," the executive writes. "An add shall be defined, and payment will only be generated, after a station has spun a song for 56 times in a 4 week period, in the 6 a.m. to 12 midnight daypart."

In an e-mail sent in January 2003, an irate promotions employee instructs a colleague to withhold a free trip, known as a "flyaway," from stations that bury Celine Dion's "I Drove all Night" in its overnight rotation of songs. Written all in capital letters, it read:

"OK, HERE IT IS IN BLACK AND WHITE AND IT'S SERIOUS: IF A RADIO STATION GOT A FLYAWAY TO A CELINE SHOW IN LAS VEGAS FOR THE ADD, AND THEY'RE PLAYING THE SONG ALL IN OVERNIGHTS, THEY ARE NOT GETTING THE FLYAWAY. PLEASE FIX THE OVERNIGHT ROTATIONS IMMEDIATELY."

NY TIMES

To disguise a payoff to a radio programmer at KHTS in San Diego, Epic Records called a flat-screen television a "contest giveaway." Epic, part of Sony BMG Music Entertainment, used the same gambit in delivering a laptop computer to the program director of WRHT in Greenville, N.C. - who also received PlayStation 2 games and an out-of-town trip with his girlfriend.

In another example, a Sony BMG executive considered a plan to promote the song "A.D.I.D.A.S." by Killer Mike by sending radio disc jockeys one Adidas sneaker, with the promise of the second one when they had played the song 10 times.

While many of the promotions detailed by Mr. Spitzer appear to come cheap - for example, $939 to fly a Buffalo programmer and a guest to New York City in connection with the addition of a Jennifer Lopez track to the playlist - they add up to millions of dollars a year.

In one case cited by Mr. Spitzer, an executive at Sony BMG's Columbia Records label - after learning that airplay for the John Mayer song "Bigger Than My Body" had declined on certain stations that had accepted a promotion package from the label - told his staff in October 2003 that "many stations here will NOT be given the promo with the airplay" being given at the time. "Either deal with it or pull it," the executive said.

BLOOMBERG

Spitzer released 59 pages of correspondence between the record companies, their promoters and radio stations, after editing out the correspondents' names.

One promoter for Sony's Epic Records sent an e-mail that said, ``WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO TO GET AUDIOSLAVE ON WKSS THIS WEEK?!!? Whatever you can dream up, I can make it happen!!!''

AP

In another case in 2004, the promotion department of Sony BMG label Epic Records paid for an extravagant trip to Miami for a Buffalo DJ and three friends in exchange for adding the Franz Ferdinand song "Take Me Out" to the DJ's station's playlist.

And in another, a program director for two Clear Channel radio stations, WKKF-FM and KISS-FM, sent an e-mail to a Sony executive saying: "Looking for a laptop for promotion on Bow Wow," a reference to a rapper.

SPITZER SENDS EVIDENCE TO FCC

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