Payola Scandals In The 1950's

Decent Essays
During the 1950’s, music was evolving. Rock and roll’s growing popularity, the rise of middle-class prosperity, the beginning of the teenage era, the dominance of inexpensive 45 rpms, and the growth of radio stations led to changes in music and the way it was marketed, promoted, and distributed (Hutchinson, 2015). While some of these changes were necessary and positive, others were damaging and downright illegal. As such, the payola scandals came into play.
Payola was a term that referred to the illegal bribing of disc jockeys (DJs) and radio stations, conducted by record companies, to play certain records and songs (Fairchild, 2012). The practice, besides illegal, was deceitful. The stations and DJs playing these songs made these acts appear as normal broadcast, without disclosing to the listening audience that they were being sponsored and paid for promoting a particular record, which is legal (Fairchild, 2012). Payola was happening across the country in multiple radio stations and involving some of the biggest names in the music industry. Record companies such as BMI (Hutchinson, 2015) and DJs of the time, particularly Alan Freed and Dick Clark, were implicated in scandals surrounding payola ( Staff, 2009).
The infamous
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The profiting dimension of music influenced the beginning of payola; it was because of the rise of rock and roll, middle class prosperity, teenagers as a target market, radio stations, and record profits that Payola came to exist. Although frowned upon, Payola’s effects and even the practice of it are persistent today. In fact, Payola infamously resurfaced in 2005 when BMG was charged with and convicted of engaging in Payola activities. BMG was found guilty and fined by the city of New York to pay $10 million (McDonald,
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