Payola in the Music Industry

Is Payola Real?

While doing a Google search for “Payola in the Music Industry”, I read that payola was illegal, and “Top 40” playlists were constructed in order to appeal to music listeners and consumers; “Top 40” is essentially “What the People Want to Hear”. Although this seems plausible, I have to question this ideology in today’s digital world. It is evident that consumers use several different avenues in order to discover new music; Sound Cloud, YouTube, Pandora etc. Many consumers have also expressed their dislike for the declining quality of music through social media. It is even more evident that many consumers don’t or refuse to listen to the radio due to a lack of musical diversity (hence the popularity of streaming websites and illegal music downloads). If consumers are essentially “running away from the radio”, how is it that radio stations are playing music that consumers want to hear? When you think about it, today’s most popular and successful artists are the only artists played on radio, and are working under the biggest and wealthiest music corporations within the US and abroad.

Some consumers aren’t aware or don’t care about Payola, and most artists (whether underground or mainstream) are afraid to discuss the idea due to backlash from leaders in the music industry. Most times, Payola is even seen as a conspiracy theory by those who see it as nonexistent. But with the internet continuing to drive a wedge between consumers and radio, Payola is definitely a term that comes to mind when examining today’s music industry.