John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Recording Industry Business Model Discovered in Satirical Newspaper

RIAA Sues Radio Stations for Giving Away Free Music

Headline from satirical newspaper The Onion, Oct. 2, 2002

Talk about life imitating The Onion …

Apparently the recording industry’s institutional memory is about as solid as its crumbling business model. As recently as 2007, it was paying radio stations to play its music. Today, it’s accusing them of pirating it. Yersterday, the ironically named recording industry group musicFIRST demanded that broadcasters pay royalties for the music they play over the radio, dismissing as a red herring their claims that radio airplay is a form of free promotion.

And to illustrate that point, the group sent the National Association of Broadcasters a can of herring and a dictionary. Some clever folks over there at musicFIRST.

“[AM-FM broadcasting is] a form of piracy, if you will, but not in the classic sense as we think of it,” Martin Machowsky, a musicFirst spokesman told Wired. “Today we gifted them a can of herring, about their argument that they provide promotional value. We think that’s a red herring. Nobody listens to the radio for the commercials.”

Well, he got that much right. Nobody does listen to the radio for the commercials. They listen for the music. And there was a time when record labels paid broadcasters to play it. They even coined a word for the practice: payola.