Payola: The Bane Of Our Music Industry

Enock Agyapong

When God created man, he gave him the conscience to differentiate right from wrong and also the free will to choose but knowing the sinful nature of man, laws were made by the same men to control their behaviour.

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Payola as we all know is the bribe received by DJs from Record Labels to influence their airplay and it’s an act of corruption in the music industry which has been in existence since the 1960s. Unfortunately the act has gained strong roots in Ghana so much so that practitioners tend to believe that it is legal but as far as wrong is wrong and right is right Payola will forever remain illegal.

Record Labels used to influence DJs with money to increase the airplay of their songs and it automatically increased their cds and cassette sales.
As the years rolled by cds and cassettes Distribution houses realised how lucrative the business was and also came in and since they were directly distributing they were making more profit and therefore increased the payola payment and that’s when they started taking over the executive production work.
Soon the cds and cassettes Manufacturers also entered the game and automatically the payola payment skyrocketed.
One thing about music is that no matter how bad it is, if it’s played over and over again it grows on the listener therefore no matter how useless a song is as long as the DJ is bribed and it’s played continuously the people will go in for it and it will increase cds and cassettes sales. Unfortunately due to technological advancement the medium of assessing music changed and we were introduced to downloads and streaming which made nonsense out of hardcopy giving way to softcopy.
This phenomenon affected cds and cassettes sales so badly that Executive Producers, Distributors turned Executive Producers and Duplication houses turned Executive Producers who couldn’t migrate to the new age of selling music had no option than to fold up or venture into other businesses.

Now from the above it is obviously clear that Payola was being paid as a result of cds and cassettes sales so immediately things changed the payment of payola also reduced drastically but the DJs becoming addicted to the corrupt act couldn’t come to terms with the fact that things have changed but instead deviced other ways of perpetuating this nefarious activity.
In fact the latter day DJs I believe were taught new ways of collecting PAYOLA as part of their syllabus.
The reality now is that no business man is ready to put his or her money into the music business because of these monsters they themselves created and the DJs are also acting like hunters who can’t differentiate between a healthy animal and a sick one therefore going after the coins of the musician who is now an endangered species since all the Executive Producers have left.

I believe we are now back to the drawing board and the real essence of music needs to be appreciated.

The fact is that music is content which radio and TV stations need to satisfy it’s viewers with after which they will then have companies coming in to advertise on their various channels. Radio and TV stations are supposed to make monies from company advertisements and not taking monies from musical works but rather they having to pay for the usage of the musical content they use.

It’s now time for Ghamro to insist on the logging system and royalty payment by radio and TV station since that will inform the play list of the station and not the DJ since no radio or TV station will love to pay royalties for playing useless payola songs.
The wrong ways of doing things must change so that the composers and publishers can get paid for their interllectual property.

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