Future of Music Coalition Releases Study on Independent Music Airplay
April 29, 2009, Washington, D.C. -- Artist education, research and advocacy organization Future of Music Coalition (FMC) announces the release of a new report that analyzes radio playlists to determine whether the policy interventions resulting from 2003-2007 payola investigations have had any effect on the amount of independent music played on terrestrial radio. This project was supported by a Large Collaborative Grant from the SSRC.
June 30, 2009: FMC releases a supplement to "Same Old Song" at the request of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. Using data licensed from Mediaguide and a similar methodology, it focuses on playlist data from 52 music stations licensed in New York State, broadcasting in a variety of formats, from 2005-2008. Read more.
FUTURE OF MUSIC COALITION RELEASES DATA-DRIVEN STUDY
ON INDEPENDENT MUSIC AIRPLAY ON RADIO
"Same Old Song: An Analysis of Radio Playlists in a Post FCC-Consent Decree World" finds no appreciable change in station playlist composition in four years since the Rules of Engagement and Voluntary Agreements
In April 2007, the Federal Communications Commission and the nation’s four largest radio station group owners – Clear Channel, CBS Radio, Citadel and Entercom – signed a voluntary agreement as a response to collected evidence and widespread allegations about payola influencing what gets played on the radio. It has been two years since the FCC, radio station group owners and independent labels met around the table. The immediate questions for the music and policymaking community are: Did these agreements serve their purpose? Have payola-like practices been curtailed? Did the agreements have any effect on what gets played on the radio?
Using playlist data licensed from Mediaguide, Future of Music Coalition (FMC) examined four years of airplay – 2005-2008 – from national playlists, and from seven specific music formats: AC, Urban AC, Active Rock, Country, CHR Pop, Triple A Commercial and Triple A Noncommercial. FMC looked at each playlist and calculated the “airplay share” for five different categories of record labels to determine whether the ratio of major label to non-major label airplay has changed over the past four years.
The data in the report indicates almost no measurable change in station playlist composition in this period. While this may lead some to conclude that payola is alive and well, and that the Spitzer and FCC agreements were ineffective, the report instead views these results through a broader lens, using the data to describe the state of radio thirteen years after the passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. The playlist data analysis underscores how radio’s long-standing relationships with major labels, its status quo programming practices and the permissive regulatory structure all work together to create an environment in which songs from major label artists continue to dominate. The major labels’ built-in advantage, in large part the cumulative benefit of years payola-tainted engagement with commercial radio, combined with radio’s risk-averse programming practices, means there are very few spaces left on any playlist for new entrants. Independent labels, which comprise some 30 percent of the domestic music market, are left to vie for mere slivers of airtime, despite negotiated attempts to address this programming imbalance.
This report also confronts a practical challenge in measuring the effectiveness of the policies negotiated by the FCC, broadcasters and the independent music community in 2007. The ambiguous language of the Rules of Engagement and the voluntary agreements make it difficult to set specific policy goals and effectively measure outcomes. In this report’s conclusion, FMC puts forward three policy recommendations – improving data collection, refocusing on localism and expanding the number of voices on the public airwaves – designed to assist both broadcasters and the FCC in ensuring a bright future for local radio and for the music community.
For more information, contact Casey Rae-Hunter, Communications Director, FMC: email@example.com, p: 202-822-2051 xt. 103.