Payola Politics Stifling Artistic Diversity

November 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

I thought I’d branch out of the usual orchestra, theatre, dance realm, so I decided to click on an article about a Puerto Rican rap duo called Calle 13, who recently won a record-breaking nine Latin Grammies this year. The fact that historical music records were broken is not really the interesting part of this article though. What intrigued me is the duo’s final remarks of their last acceptance speech…remarks that caused the artists’ mic to be cut and cameras to pan away. So what were the controversial words? "No a la payola" ("Say no to payola") was proclaimed and repeated several times before Univision cut away. The article goes on to describe Payola, which is essentially a system of bribery among radio broadcasters as a means to getting certain Latin artists’ music aired (and making it that much more difficult for new and upcoming artists to break through to the public). As a result, there was little musical diversity among Latin Grammy winners this year.

I find Payola to be extremely problematic and dissapointing…although not that surprising. The music world is highly political. Connections (and money) are hugely influential in the success or failure of new talents. It is not fair how many incredible artists I know that the world remains unaware about due to such politics. With this in mind, it is important for performing arts organizations to go out on a limb and bring in fresh unknown talents to share with audiences. Doing so will not only expand the public’s horizons, but also will save organizations money in artist fees!



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