Saturday, June 19, 2004

AVRIL LAVIGNE BUYS HER FRIENDS: We mentioned a while back that we thought the free gigs in the Mall suggested that Arista, Avril Lavigne's label, didn't feel entirely confident that the second album from their angyr young Jennifer Aniston clone was going to be able to work on its own merits, and so in need of an awful lot of shoring up. Now, it seems, Arista were so afraid that Avril's comeback might stiff they paid a small fortune for radio plays. And since the media is never an industry to look a gift horse in the mouth, stations across the States were happy to take the cash and play Avril again, and again, and again: WQZQ-FM happily put Don't Tell Me on 109 times in a week. Now, there's nothing strictly illegal about this - payola has been outlawed, but, apparently, providing you mutter something about the track being "brought to you in association with..." it's seen as advertising. Except, of course, when the number of plays of records are being totted up - even though the plays have been paid for, they still count as airings for a track on the radio; which helps a record leap up Billboard's National Radio Play Chart. And a song which does well there will get added to playlists of loads of other radio stations, who don't want to be caught not giving space to a record that's clearly hot. Now, you could argue that a comeback by Avril would have made the list anyway, but a few hundred paid-for appearances here and there can make the difference between, say, number six and number four in the top ten, and, crucially, between being a riser and a faller. And, let's not forget, radio plays are also counted in to the chart position on the US singles chart, so it won't hurt there, either. In fact, the situation starts to look more and more like Viz's old charts, where positions were based solely on the amount the label coughed up. Avril's single is a success, yes... but someone's really had to pay for it.
[Thanks to Maximus for the link]

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