Eliot Spitzer, the New York attorney general, is close to a settlement with one of the world’s largest record companies to resolve accusations that it used improper tactics to influence radio programmers to play its songs, people involved in the discussions said last night.
The agreement between Mr. Spitzer and the record company, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, one of four music conglomerates under investiation, is expected to be announced on Monday, these people said. They cautioned, however, that the talks were continuing and could still break down.
The settlement is expected to establish a blueprint for agreements that Mr. Spitzer will probably seek with the other three major record companies, all of whom have received subpoenas.
Late last year, investigators in Mr. Spitzer’s office served subpoenas on Sony BMG, the Universal Music Group, the EMI Group and the Warner Music Group, seeking copies of contracts, billing records and other information detailing their ties to independent middlemen who pitch new songs to radio programmers in New York State. Investigators have also review e-mail messages and internal memos and have questioned senior executives at Sony BMG.
As part of the settlement, Sony BMG, the second-biggest of the four major music conglomerates, is expected to admit to misconduct in its radio promotion practices and agree to a series of changes that would limit attempts to influence airplay, according to people involved in the discussion.
For instance, the company is expected to end its use of independent promoters – middlemen who are paid to persuade programmers to add new songs. Sony BMG will also likely forgo future use of so-called “spin programs,” in which labels pay stations to air songs repeatedly, usually with an eye toward manipulating a song’s appearance on industry airplay charts.