Staticblog Rejects and Denounces Eliot Spitzer
Keeping your nose and other appendages clean is a good, standard rule by which to live — especially if your day job involves crusading for truth, justice and record companies not paying radio stations to play Jennifer Lopez songs.
After New York Governor Eliot Spitzer got busted this week for spending stacks of cash on luxury hookers, I checked my archive and saw that I wrote about Spitzer six times between July 2005 and May 2006. It was all about the then-New York attorney general’s investigation of the record industry’s relationship with radio and television, which revealed a massive gravy train of cash and other incentives to play music that, in many cases, was unfit for human ears. Over the course of that year, Spitzer levied about $31 million in penalties against the major labels.
I have no shame in having trumpeted what Spitzer accomplished as New York’s AG — payola is and always has been a hugely destructive force in radio. If you hear a song on the radio once an hour that cannot be judged as tolerable by any reasonable standard, someone with string-pulling power probably got a 52-inch plasma television and a compensated weekend in Las Vegas for their trouble. Fredric Dannen’s classic 1990 book “Hit Men” tells the long and sordid story of how payola shaped the pop landscape for decades, and it’s a phenomenon that never really dies — it’s the “Terminator” of music industry scandals.
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