I can’t wait until the day I can shout,”Hooray for the Little guys”. Like George Mason in the Sweet Sixteen, I am rooting for my airplay for the littlle lables, the up-and-comers. Here is what is happenin’. Check it out.
The American Association Of Independent Music (or A2IM), a collection of indie record labels that formed last summer to promote fair rights for independent labels, sent a letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin to assess the “unfair advantage” major labels have in getting radio play, and to pursue allegations of payola.
Acting President of A2IM Don Rose said that, “…the FCC is conducting a thorough investigation of alleged payola-like practices in the commercial radio industry.” The FCC will also be determining exactly how these practices have unfairly tipped the scales for the major labels. This process started in July 2005 when New York Attorney General Elliott Spitzer brought to light documents from Sony BMG (one of the four remaining majors) that showed many different forms of “payola” (or payola-related) activities, often indirect in the form of presents. Though they were small gifts, like electronics and concert tickets, to specific DJs (small enough to fly under the radar) they could easily add up to millions of dollars worth of gifts.
These practices, A2IM states, “made it virtually impossible for songs released by independent labels to be considered for airplay within existing formats.” The radio airplay for artists on independent labels, subsequently, was at roughly 10% last summer, even though the Nielson SoundScan ratings showed album sales for indies around 27% of market sales for 2004-05. Despite all this evidence for the strength of the independent music market, “Somehow,” Rose states, “music released by independents is virtually absent from the commercial airwaves.”
Members of A2IM include a long list of independent labels such as GSL, Epitaph, Beggars Group, Matador, Lookout, Roadrunner, TVT, Touch & Go, and Sub Pop. They undertake the burden of securing a future in the music industry where artists are given fair chances to succeed against those on larger and more well-financed labels.