NQC 07: radio interviews

So color me ignorant, but during the course of a conversation at lunch today, the topic of radio interviews with artists came up and I discovered that it’s a common practice for radio stations to charge an artist for an interview. $100 for 15 minutes on a prominent sg radio station. $900 to be featured on a two-hour program. Now, I’ve only been thinking about this for the time it took me get from lunch back to my hotel, so I don’t have a lot to say at this point. I’m hoping some of you with more experience and knowledge can chime in here. But my gut reaction is: huh? I mean, sure the radio is promoting the artist, but then the artist’s music is also attracting listeners from which advertising rates are set. I guess it’s no different than distributors paying for end caps in bookstores or cereal manufactures paying the grocery store to have Cheerios placed at eye level on the shelf, but still … it seemed worth bringing up and batting around a bit.

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  1. Tim wrote:

    You’ve got to be kidding.

  2. Gospelsingerwannabe wrote:

    I can’t speak for all SG stations. I have worked with only a few small market stations in our area and this is commom practice. The large market stations also charge for air time and/or “Artist Spotlights” and it is quite expensive. Actual numbers vary based upon how many spots, length of spot, etc… Its generally between $800$1500.

  3. Wayne wrote:

    I’m not too familiar with how the whole radio business works, but it seems to me if an artist is paying for an interview with a station, and that station in turn is playing the artists music during the interview, that could be considered “payola”. All of that aside, I can’t grasp the idea of a radio station asking for money for an interview. If anything, I feel the artists should be asking the radio station to fork over some dough.
    I know that during NQC some record lables have times set aside for djs to mingle with the artists and record liners and such, but I have never heard of the labels paying the djs to do this.

  4. jh wrote:

    this makes me think of how ridiculously backwards it is for artist to pay to be on a label. If everybody would stop paying to do this, it would go away. Maybe even be reversed.

  5. SPD wrote:

    It is payola! And it’s illegal! But we call it advertising and it’s all suddenly ok! Groups pay $1300 dolars to get into the make it or break it segment on Solid Gospel and in return they get a few interview type segments played during that week and the listeners vote on the song or not! It is good exposure if your song makes it but if your song breaks it then you’re broke with nothing to show for it! Before this system it was $1000 for an artist spotlight interview that was repeated a few times during the month and they played your song 2 times a day plus requests for one month! After that month the song went into computer rotation with everyone else! I like that better than make it or break it for the money’s worth but they must have raised a few eye brows or they’d still be doing it! Any way it’s all made legitmate by calling it advertisement b/c of the interviews and giving of your contact info! Like it or Not!

  6. Tom wrote:

    Unbelievable . . . and only in sg, I would imagine.

    When I was a dj at a CCM station, we did interviews all the time and there was never money involved. It was good for us and good for the artist. The record labels would frequently send us “radio specials” promoting a particular artist, usually a full hour program after adding commercial breaks, in hopes that we would play it. We rarely did that, but other CCM stations would–and I’m quite confident that no one ever paid one way or the other.

    A few times I’ve heard Solid Gospel do interviews with artists and play their music during that time, but they would announce that “this hour of broadcasting is sponsored by _____” several times during that period–which seemed to make it clear that this was some sort of paid advertising. And most of the time these were artists I had never even heard of before and whose songs I never heard on Solid Gospel at any other time.

    If this is true, it is really hokey.


  7. Singer's Wife wrote:

    I can tell you that my husband has never paid anyone to do an interview. If he had to pay, well, he just wouldn’t do the interview.

  8. Tele D. Trooth wrote:

    SPD is dead on. It IS happening and it IS payola; albeit under a different name…”this hour of broadcasting underwritten by Brother Jon and the Pentecostal Shouters makes it all “legal”…how many of these “breakout” artists do you REALLY hear added to rotation??? Yet they are “good enough” for a live listening party. Apparently the check or credit card gets your foot in the door…despite your quality or lack thereof. What makes Solid Gospel so gaga for second rate production and cookie cutter material? You guessed it…CASH-ola.

  9. Floored wrote:

    Now you know how I felt when I got a call two weeks ago from a radio station saying we owed them 1000.00 for a 30 minute spot we did almost a year ago!? I was floored…and still am! I can’t get up!

  10. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    Of course I’m not a lawyer, but my understanding is that it’s only payola if the spins purchased are reported to the charts as air play.

    In a legal sense, I believe an artist or label has every right to buy an ad, just as a Chevrolet dealer does. If they want to buy 3 minutes of ad space during which their song is aired, that’s up to them. The same goes for an interview or a “feature spot” or a “make it/break it” segment or whatever else the station will provide to allow them to get exposure in exchange for their ad dollars.

    What you CAN’T do legally, to my understanding, is pay a station to play your song AND report it to the air play charts based on how much it’s played. If 24 spins of “Mama Get The Hammer” are purchased and 25 are played in the course of a day, only one spin can count.

  11. Wayne wrote:

    According to the FCC, payola has nothing to do with charting a song or not. Here is a link the the FCC website that explains almost all you need to know about payola.

  12. Chuck Peters wrote:

    I have never asked anyone for $$.. to participate in an interview for a station. But,.. this very week.. at NQC.. after finishing an interview with a notable SG artist… she asked how they were supposed to pay for the time. Very tempting.. but I didn’t accept any money. Maybe they have been charged for the same service somewhere else.

    I am not real sure what Solid Gospel is doing.. but I would think they have re-searched the legality of selling these features. This isn’t some rinky dink operation that would unknowingly risk criminal or civil prosecution.

    Now.. I am not sure Solid Gospel’s practice is the most “classy” thing they could be doing.. and it is frowned on by some in SG circles.. when artists of questionable talent appear to be buying airplay on the industry’s largest SG radio network. I think there is a way to sell artists advertising and promotion without sacrificing your credibility.

  13. Marlin R. Taylor wrote:

    At XM Radio’s enLighten34, no $$ are charged or accepted, no one can buy commercials or airtime. We are regularly asked, “how do we get played on enLighten34?” Answer: The only way, for better or worse … is for Dan Dixon and/or yours truly to like the track. And, we continue to weed out tracks from the past where that criteria was not applied.

    Some months ago, a gold watch and three $100.00 bills were delivered in behalf of an artist. They were promptly dispatched to XM’s legal department and returned post haste.

  14. Paul Heil wrote:

    Although we are frequently asked how much it costs to be on The Gospel Greats program (on which artist interviews play a prominent role), no one is ever charged for the interviews we conduct and broadcast. To do so, I believe, would violate the integrity of the feature selection process for the program (aired on about 200 stations across the USA and in Canada, plus XM). This has been our policy since the program’s beginning nearly 28 years ago.

  15. Derek wrote:

    Sounds like payola to me. I’ve been in radio for almost 18 years and I have never charged nor have I ever been offered or any money from an artist…SG or secular. In fact, it’s almost like pulling teeth without anesthesia to even get a CD for airplay. God forbid I actually asked for a few to give away on the air. I think the FCC should be notified and the situation investigated at the very least. Illegal? Maybe not. Immoral? Definitely in my book. It’s just another blemish on the reputation of SG.

  16. SPD wrote:

    Thanks Paul! Love the program!!!

  17. Tele D. Trooth wrote:

    …wonder if anyone from solid gospel is going to weigh in and “correct” us misguided folk…

  18. Trent wrote:

    One of the things I love about this site is that nearly EVERYBODY in the industry reads it. They are addicted to it like caffeine. The draw is that truths are told and the SG buying public speaks without a harness and a bit between their teeth.

    Also, it’s great to see both Paul Heil & Marlin Taylor speak up on this thread. Guys, I love what both of you are doing and if it weren’t for folks like you who are striving for excellence our genre of music would be in much worse shape. Thanks for your contributions to Southern Gospel. I listen often.

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