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Spitzer, Smackdown, Booya.

Eliot Spitzer, NY Attorney General extraordinaire, is close to reaching a settlement with Sony BMG to end payola in the music industry:

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 and put in place regulations that limit the paid advertising it can place at a radio station. Sony 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.

Plus fines for the major labels! The deal isn’t totally sealed yet, but seems to be well on its way. Isn’t it great to see corruption get rooted out at least once in a while?

This rules, and a huge thank you from music lovers to you, Mr. Spitzer. There will probably still be a bunch of sneaky crap that goes on like concert promotion play-for-airplay, but this is a big big step forward. It means more money in the pockets of major label bands (less gets wasted on zero-sum game radio bribes) and it means a much better chance for independent music to get onto the air.

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