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Deejays budget big payouts to get songs heavy radio rotation


Tuesday, February 28, 2012 ——

THE Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) says the practice of payola in the electronic and print media is effectively crippling the entertainment industry and stifling the creativity of the country’s talented artistes.

Speaking at the Observer’s weekly Monday Exchange yesterday, members of JaRIA complained that the practice has become so rampant in the indigenous music industry that some artists actually include payola in their promotional budgets.

Jamaica Reggae Industry Association Vice Chairman Charles Campbell speaking at the Observer Monday Exchange yesterday.


JaRIA Vice Chairman Charles Campbell said he is aware that a popular dancehall entertainer has budgeted wads of cash to be doled out to disc jockeys who are in his pocket.

“A popular deejay budgets $100,000 every month to pay out to disc jockeys. When he voices a song, he e-mails the song to his people and it is played on radio. It does not go through the system,” he said.

Payola — the practice of artistes, producers and managers paying huge sums to radio and sound system disc jockeys in exchange for heavy rotation — has plagued Jamaica’s entertainment industry for decades and has become accepted as the norm.

Many industry players without large sums of cash to throw around are often left without the media exposure needed to propel their careers.

Campbell said JaRIA has been lobbying for the reintroduction of a library system for music that goes on air to minimise payola by ensuring radio jockeys can only use properly documented and registered tunes.

Veteran producer and JaRIA board member Stephen Stewart also blasted media workers who accept payola. According to Stewart, the practice has resulted in many recorded works not reaching the ears of the consumer and has caused a flood of sub-standard music to dominate the airwaves.

“When we are in studio we have the opportunity to hear a range of recordings, and there is in every studio, every day, probably hundreds of songs being recorded, and it is amazing what is allowed on radio. The problem of payola excludes many works recorded and created here and so it also hampers the ability to collect for work played on the radio,” he said.

Stewart, who operates the Harry J recording studio, argued that many innovators and songwriters are being cheated out of their royalties because of the illicit practice which is hurting, in a big way, the entire entertainment industry.

“A lot of the media houses are not strict enough or impress on their deejays in particular, against payola. When somebody is buying out on a secret deal with the disc jocks to play their music only , the industry suffers, because the people who have their savings and go to the studio and expect to get some exposure are denied that,” he said.

Stewart urged media bosses to move towards changing the mindset of disc jockeys and reporters who accept cash in exchange for exposing an artist, or saturating the airwaves with a particular recording.

“For our 50th year it would be such a good thing that the mindset of our music changes in this way. Instead of going with only the hype, with only who is willing to let off some money, drop a 50 pack ($50,000) for airplay or a write-up, that there is a genuine research into our artists, every one of them, not just the ones who are able to drop the 50 pack. Promote the story behind the work, behind the artist. Showcase everybody,” he said.



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