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Universal Pays $12 Mil for Illegal Bribes to Radio Stations

Labels, DJ's and promoters alike better watch themselves when they involve themselves in pay-to-play and pass cash or hefty gifts to air on the radio or to perform at a show.

The world's largest record company Universal will be paying $12 million dollars in the latest payola case whereas it was stated that they gave vacations, gifts and bribes to radio stations to ensure airtime for artists.

Universal (Vivendi Universal) who also consists of (Universal Music Publishing Group, Island Def Jam Music Group, Interscope, Geffen, A&M, Universal Motown Recordings, Verve Music Group, etc.) has agreed to stop all illegal payments as well as the hiring of independent promoters who provided the incentives to radio stations.

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer who filed papers through the New York Supreme Court told sources that Universal Music Group had obtained airplay for its songs through deceptive and illegal practices, such as bribing radio station employees to play Universal Music Group songs, which provided a stream of financial benefits to the radio stations to help with so-called overhead costs or to provide promotional support so that Universal Music Group receive airplay.

Subpoenas were issued earlier this year to Clear Channel Communications, CBS Radio Inc., Entercom and Citadel Broadcasting Corp. to investigate charges that they accepted electronic merchandise such as flat-screen TVs and cash in exchange for showing certain songs special attention.

Spitzer's subpoenas have uncovered a number of 'under the table' illegal activity with radio stations and labels. Among the record labels and radio stations found doing the pay-to-play, in July 2005, Sony BMG agreed to stop further illegal radio promotions and settled for a nice sum of $10 million. The agreement prohibits Sony employees from passing out gifts valued at more than $150 to radio stations. Warner Music Group agreed to a $5 million settlement in November.

For two-years an investigation into music labels' accounting practices also turned up funds for Universal Music, Sony Music, EMI, BMG and Warner Music who suddenly ended up joining teams in 2004 inorder to find royalty payments for artists who did not receive them which amounted to more than $50 million.

This is only the beginning of closing down on companies who are misusing the artists and the music industry. "I personally have spoken with artists, DJ's, publicists, club venues and promoters and told them bluntly I do not support nor participate in pay-to-play activities and have always felt that it harmed the music community. Artists should be given the opportunity to perform at clubs and earn the value of being paid one day and not paying to play. It will take more than Attorney General Elliot Spitzer to help put an end to the pay-to-play, it will take the cooperation of the artists, labels, music industry professionals and music listeners as a community to change these poor rules into more fair rules and fair play," stated M Town, Director of MemphisRap.com in a brief questioning on his thoughts of pay-to-play.

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