Sony BMG Music Entertainment agreed to pay $10 million and will end “pay-to-play” practices to resolve a state investigation of payola in the music industry, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer announced today.
Sony BMG, the world’s second-largest music company, acknowledged it had engaged in “improper conduct,” a statement issued today by Spitzer’s office said. Sony BMG, created in 2004 from the merger of the recorded-music units of Sony Corp. and Bertelsmann AG, also agreed to disclose all items of value it gives to radio stations, the statement said.
“Our investigation shows that, contrary to listener expectations that songs are selected for airplay based on artistic merit and popularity, air time is often determined by undisclosed payoffs to radio stations and their employees,” Spitzer said in the statement. “This agreement is a model for breaking the pervasive influence of bribes in the industry.”