The events that makeup history are always interconnected.
There is nothing special in its course and a continuous cause-effect relationship, it just moves it.
Rock’n’roll is a part and result of a historical flow since this is also a human activity.
And as usual, these activities must be accompanied by certain rules, to ensure a smooth flow.
But surely, the art of any kind also needs money flow. Either to support itself or to create this flow.
Apart from music, rock’n’roll was also a very successful “business” and the reason for the creation of huge music industry.
In order for musicians to be treated fairly and equally, even in the context of a fantasy called the “American Dream“, a legal background had to be created.
Of course, it made sure to do that long before the music industry reached enormous proportions.
Somewhere in the early 20th century, with the advent of radio, but also with a keen sense of the music industry, the US government sought to enact such a law.
The legislation …
And the law came “47 U.S. Code § 317 – Announcement of payment for broadcast”.
What this law does is to impose on the media to notify the listener of every broadcast that is made for a fee.
Exemption from this obligation is made when the transmission is in the public interest.
But in order not to get confused with legal terminology and a possible, wrong translation of these …
We will say that it simply forbids the “start” for the transmission of songs (what we are interested in), news, or any information.
As is well known, where there is a law, there is also its violation!
Secret rewards …
Along with rock’n’roll, new terminology is born, Payola.
This term refers to any secret payment for the favorable treatment of a product.
In the music industry, the product is a song.
So, some radio stations played one, mainly new song, more often, making it popular.
This hurt the music industry, as it also increased record sales.
Legitimacy in the face of profit is simply an imperceptible obstacle, especially since the king is the … money.
The term “payola” was created from “pay” (fee, payment) and the suffix “-ola“, which we found in many products of the 20th century. such as Pianola, Victrola, Amberola, Crayola.
It literally means bribery or paying money to do or say something favorable to something or someone against the legal process.
The “Federal Communications Commission (FCC)” in 2005-2006 “distributed” fines of tens of millions of dollars.
Result of convictions for violation of the law on sponsorships.
The first instance of this offense was Alan Freed or rather the first to be revealed.
Payola is as old as music “businesses”, although initially there were no controls.
For example, the NBC radio show “Your Hit Parade”.
The show relied on such tactics and for 20 years refused to reveal the methods that shaped its top hits.
The explosion of Payola…
The explosion of rock’n’roll was also an explosion of Payola, threatening at the same time the old methods of the record companies.
A typical example is a fact that ¾ of record production in the mid-1940s was intended for jukeboxes.
Rock’n’roll has also created a number of independent companies.
Mass production and therefore the need for mass sales has led independent companies to these methods of promotion.
This illegal method was originally the means of spreading new music.
Its pioneers are also the first to be hit by scandals.
If in the end, all this was an attempt to fight rock’n’roll by legal means, from the Puritan establishment, we will probably never know.
Surely, however, it quickly became established and the methods that refer to payola are the ones that define music now.
The story will continue with the second part of the third part on Monday, April 12.