In a move well-heeled major labels will relish, MP3.com Friday launched Payola, a promotional tool for MP3.com artists that provides
artists the opportunity to bid for positioning on an exclusive section of a
genre page at MP3.com.
MP3.com (MPPP) has dubbed its new promotional feature
Payola, which functions similarly to traditional online auctions. The top bidder at the end of each round wins a position on the Payola section of
their genre page for one week.
The new promotional avenue has no direct relation to MP3.com’s music charts,
which are created based on the number of downloads, listens, CD sales and
other measurements of consumer popularity.
“Payola evolved out of a desire
to offer MP3.com artists more fun and exciting ways to advertise themselves
and their music,” said Michael Robertson, chairman and chief executive
officer of MP3.com.
“Artists, labels, and even moms of artists can make their
bids online, watch the bidding process and change their bids at any time. The
10 highest bidders will be featured on the Payola section of their genre page
for one week, which is great exposure for artists.”
MP3.com visitors can access the Payola auction from any of the 13 top-level
music genre pages or by clicking here. Bidding for
each of the 10 available Payola slots runs for one week and ends Wednesday at noon Pacific. Bidding starts at $1.
However, the tongue-in-cheek name for the auction has already raised hackles
among musicians’ feedback on the site who find the term “Payola” ugly and offensive.
A typical comment was: “‘Payola, Paid
Promotions’ is an ugly, negative term. ‘Sponsored Songs’ sounds like what it
is, a paid advertisement. As far as I am concerned, I bid for advertising
space, a sponsorship. Mp3.com lists ‘Sponsored Artists’ on pages, why not ‘Sponsored Songs’? What is the reasoning behind changing the name to Payola besides bullying by no talent MP3 whiners?”
Not everyone objects to the whimsical monicker, but more at issue may be
that, in the long run, in any auction, independent musicians will not likely
to be the highest bidders — unless Donald Trump debuts as a singer – record
labels will. “Payola” may thus be entirely the appropriate term. The question
remains, will the Internet be truly the opportunity for independents to “make
it on their own” or will it wind up as just another hunting ground for
predatory record labels looking to clean up with a new set of marketing ploys?