Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Good News For Indie Music

I don't like to regurgitate Stereogum news, but this is kind of a big deal.

If you haven't been following along, here it is in a nutshell.

Basically, the FCC was investigating terrestrial radio for evidence of payola, meaning that stations and/or program directors were given cash, trips, etc., in return for spins for their artists. The result of this investigation was that, duh, the 4 big labels were rewarding radio stations, especially radio conglomerates, namely ClearChannel, for playing certain artists which in turn, boosts record sales, etc., for those artists. It's bad for a number of reasons, but one major problem is that indie labels have a hard time finding airtime so many good quality artists never get noticed. Just think of Barsuk... Death Cab For Cutie was a great band for a long time, but until suddenly there was a demand created by an alternate venue, namely The OC, where people could discover them since they were pretty much absent from radio, did they get the recognition they deserved (though the quality of Transatlanticism had a lot to do with it, too, and resulted in them signing to a major.)

One side result of the investigation and subsequent settlements is that certain amounts of airtime would be set aside for indie labels (labels not owned by Sony BMG, Warner, Universal and EMI) . Of course, it's a voluntary side deal, but 8,400 half hour blocks of music will be set aside among the station groups. (Clear Channel, CBS, Entercom, Citadel)

It was rumored within the past couple months that this would be part of the settlement agreement, but it can only be good that it is coming to pass, even if it is voluntarily. In San Diego, it is unlikely we'll really benefit on the alt/indie stations since 94/9 is not in one of the named congloms and 91X is owned by Finest City Broadcasting, but in my recollection, it's the first time in many years that the FCC has made a decision that actually punished the corporate radio groups.

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