New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said Wednesday he has subpoenaed nine of the nation's largest radio conglomerates in his "payola" investigation of major artists and songs that he claims got air time because of payoffs by recording companies.
"A lot of the major songs have been implicated in this and it showed how pervasive the payola infrastructure had become," Spitzer told The Associated Press. "Major artists, major songs were sent up the charts through improper payments to buy spins on the air that translated into sales."
Payola is a big issue for musicians because it's the point at which all of the access-to-public-airwaves issues become clear for most. If the consolidated stations and the consolidated record labels are paying each other to play only their own music, it's nearly impossible for most artists to ever get airplay. While we're shifting away from radio's importance with podcasts and the internet, it's still the cat's meow when it comes to having the opportunity to be heard. This is why radio is no good, so it's bad for the people, too. Say what you will about Eliot Spitzer, but his focus on payola is waking up Congress and the FCC to take a look too.