R&R Street Talk Daily's Kevin Carter hasn't lost his sense of humor, as this morning's headline indicates: "This Just In From Mr. Spitzer: Everything You Were Doing Is Now Illegal"
In a statement, WMG said, “Warner Music Group acknowledges that various employees pursued some radio promotion practices on behalf of the company that were wrong and improper and apologizes for such conduct. Warner Music Group looks forward to defining a new, higher standard in radio promotion.”
In addition to $5 million — which will be distributed by the State of New York to various non-profit corporations, WMG has also agreed to cover $50,000 in fees tied to Spitzer’s investigation.
According to AG Eliot Spitzer: “The financial benefits provided in exchange for airplay, also known as ‘payola,’ took several forms: direct bribes to radio programmers, including airfare, electronics, tickets to premier sporting events and concerts; payments to radio stations to cover operational expenses; radio contest giveaways for stations’ listening audiences, including flyaways, concert tickets, iPods, gift certificates and gift cards; hiring independent promoters to act as conduits for illegal payments to radio stations; and purchasing ‘spin programs’ to artificially increase the airplay of particular recordings.”
Part of the WMG settlement now sets specific limits: only 20 promo CDs per project will be allowed per station — any more requires the written permission of the WMG “Compliance Officer”; ditto for concert tickets (20 per year per station).
“Modest personal gifts for life events and holidays” are allowable, as long as any gift “does not exceed $150 in value per recipient per year.”
That $150 limit is also applied to label-sponsored meals and entertainment for radio employees and allows the WMG labels to spend a “reasonable amount” (coach-class airfare or car/train) on travel and lodging expenses for radio employees to attend live performances or appearances by WMG artists, setting a limit on such promo trips to 20 per year per station. “Reasonable” lodging will only cover a period within 24 hours of the performance or appearance.
WMG isn’t allowed to reimburse an indie for any expenses incurred in promotion activities and prohibits WMG from providing “any item of value” to be distributed to a radio station, station employee or contest winner. The agreement also requires indies to submit quarterly reports confirming that they’re following these swell new standards of conduct WMG has adopted. WMG employees are prohibited from calling radio stations to request airplay of WMG artists or attempt to manipulate “voting features” to “falsely register public support” for a WMG artist or song.
I AM NOT YOUR ATTORNEY
...so, of course, you will want to get advice and the necessary compliance forms from your company's legal counsel on all of this. But, since specific paid spins programs on syndicated programming ("timebuys on shows like Carson Daly, Rick Dees or Ryan Seacrest..") were singled out as improper, if not outright illegal now (at least in this one state), in WMG's consent decree, I'd strongly recommend asking the syndicator of any programming you run whether they are paid for the plays on the program.
Unless they are willing to provide you with written assurance that this is not the case, I'd drop the show as soon as you can contractually do so, based on their refusal to provide such assurances.
Hopefully, the networks and syndication companies are already scrambling to get ahead of this TODAY. But, if you don't hear from yours, they need to hear from you. And, if I were you, I'd document those contacts in writing!
Blake And Miranda Go All Out For Moore - Watch Blake and Miranda's heartfelt tribute performance of "Over You" during *The Voice*: Shelton says that he is putting together an NBC-TV benefit con...
44 minutes ago