But after being sued by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, the mammoth music company acknowledged that it had bribed radio programmers with cash and gifts to get its artists on the airwaves. As Rolling Stone reported, the label doled out free iPods to get radio play for the Streets and $800 gift certificates to land spins for the wretched singer-songwriter Toby Lightman. Shit, we'd pay 800 bones not to hear that crap.
Of course, Warner isn't the first record company to cop to payola charges. Earlier this year, Sony settled a similar suit for $10 million. But that hardly excuses Warner's actions.
Who really gets screwed here? As usual, it's the music fans. By making the airwaves a pay-for-play enterprise, major labels have successfully excluded independent labels from getting spins on commercial radio. Not only have indies been responsible for some of the most vital artists in recent years (Bright Eyes, Interpol, Iron and Wine, to name a few), but they often offer their product at a cheaper price; when record companies spend millions getting their songs on the radio, they pass the bill onto the consumer, hence the advent of the $18 CD. For sticking us with crappier music at a higher cost -- and for its neverending corporate greed -- we're tossing Warner Music Group and its seedy business practices onto the compost heap.
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at [email protected].
Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.