On Huey and blog payola: Payow!

[2-day liberatormagazine.com featured story]

Pretty much any popular music in the U.S. is infected with a disease called capitalism. The music itself sometimes carries negative messages, but that's not all that important in the bigger scheme. What is important is the fact that music -- positive or negative -- has been infected with this disease called capitalism really the moment it enters the system of the American music industry, which consists of public relations workers, promoters, record labels, and outlets. A great example of how capitalism affects one of these cogs in the system -- the outlets -- is the example of Payola, where cogs on the early end of the American music industrial complex ecosystem -- the PR folks, the promoters, the labels -- pay the outlets to get certain types of music into the ears of the masses.

"Payola, in the American music industry, is the illegal practice of payment or other inducement by record companies for the broadcast of recordings on music radio, in which the song is presented as being part of the normal day's broadcast. Under US law, 47 U.S.C. § 317, a radio station can play a specific song in exchange for money, but this must be disclosed on the air as being sponsored airtime, and that play of the song should not be counted as a "regular airplay." The term has come to refer to any secret payment made to cast a product in a positive light." (source)

In 2009 blogs have, at least, joined radio and television as a primary means of getting music into the ears of the masses. At best, for some, the blogs have totally replaced radio and television. So, for some, the blogger is the new DJ. Like the DJ, in an intact (meaning not compromised) culture, at least, the blogger is expected to share what organically appeals to him/her. In reality, like with the reality of the capitalist DJ, the blogger often shares the music of the musicians who have the most efficient hype machine working for them. Call it a hype machine, call it the musical industrial complex, etc. -- it's the same thing.

So Payola is no longer limited to radio stations and DJs. It now occurs, unregulated, in the space of the internets. It's like WWW stands for Wild Wild West out here. Music blogs popping up left and right and each one with their network of PR "agents" and promoters hawking "perks" to the blog owners to get their attention.

This has all gone so wrong. The internets were supposed to provide a revolutionary new way for independent artists to organically get their music to ears who genuinely cared to hear. And while some artists and online publishers are preserving the integrity of that revolutionary vision, most aren't. And the blog space, the internets, etc. are all becoming a sick replaying out of all the bullshit that has gone down with every other broadcast technology come before. Folks are allowing industry to pose as their friends, as the industry reaches around and f***s the shit out them.

Take for example this song called "PaYow!" that was sent to The Liberator this morning from The Chamber Group Public Relations Agency.

The first thing I do is Google the song to see who this agency has already gotten to in their effort to shove music into as many ears as possible. After all, that's their job. Here's what I found:

5starhiphop.com said: "Huey grabs Bobby V. for new single titled, “PayYow”. I’m not a big fan of auto tune but this doesn’t sound bad at all, Check it out." (source)

DJbooth.net said: "For now, the St. Louis native’s plan is to continue catering to his core audience: females. On this newly-released cut, he reveals why he’s so popular with the ladies: he’s got that PaYOW! that makes sweet lovemaking even sweeter for his partner. Employing a rapped/sung flow, Huey sounds a little like Weezy with Lyfe Jennings’ vocal chords, but Bobby Valentino‘s hook and Deezle‘s beat smooth PaYOW! into a perfect bedroom jam. Has Huey struck gold once again? To find out, go to your favorite CD store or online retailer July 14 and pick up a copy of Strictly Business." (source)

Both "reviews" are obviously advertisements, or mere editing and re-working of a Press Release.

What's sad about this is that unlike the DJ, the blogger doesn't even always get paid (in any form) for "posting/playing". The blogger is usually just happy that a "professional" promoter/pubic relations firm even contacted them. Kick the blogger free tickets to shows around town and you've got a friend/co-conspirator for life. The blogger can always justify it internally as meaning that their site is simply gaining a larger profile.

What's even sadder here is that in this so-called musical industrial complex, the individuals working at the PR firms, the promoters, etc... are usually just folks with big dreams themselves. Only the compromises they've made to get to their dreams have instead brought them to a point where they are mere middle men going wherever the money is at, because they NEED to make the money by any means to avoid working at Applebees -- either to impress their boss to keep their job, or to pay their rent. These are just regular kids who've compromised themselves and ended up in a situation where they don't control what their labor is dedicated to. Now you know the tragedy of a cog in capitalism. Big dreams and potential turned into simple machinery.


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