FCC Payola Probe Progresses / Sets Sights on “Unregulated” Streaming Services

Published: Thursday 28th Nov 2019 by Rashad


Music executives who thought the holiday season would temporarily deter FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly‘s interest in a recently announced payola probe are mistaken if his latest comments are anything to judge by.

As we reported here, the last two months have seen O’Rielly lead an investigation into the industry’s reportedly ‘rampant and unlawful practice’ of payola (also known as ‘pay for play’).  First calling on help from the Recording Industry Association of America, their unsatisfactory response to his formal inquiry led him to seek answers from the labels themselves.

As information continues to be collected there, he’s now turning his attention to streaming platforms.  Find out why inside:

FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly

Recently speaking to the Massachusetts Broadcasters Association, O’Rielly stated:

“Once again, we see a legacy regulation remaining in place for broadcasters that other substitute services are not required to abide by,” he said. “It should not be lost on me or anyone else observing the industry that this is another area where the cutting edge high-technology companies operate without similar restrictions.”


Simply put:  the rules that enforce anti-payola practices at radio predate the advent of streaming services.  As such, platforms like Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, and more are not legally required to comply with the FCC’s payola rules as they were established specifically for radio.  Currently unregulated (for all intents and purposes), there are few legal repercussions for those services furnishing inflated figures of song or album plays.  Said inflation could not only be putting cash in the pockets of people who run the platforms, but also awarding artists and labels undue awards and recognition.

This practice creates an environment of unfair competition for labels who cannot afford or simply chose not to indulge in pay-for-play tactics.  O’Rielly stressed that his office is looking for ways to update the current laws to ensure all forms of technology are covered.  Elaborating, he said:

“I’ll be asking for feedback on what processes record labels have in place to prevent payola and their structure for responding if evidence shows the need to do so,” he said. “There are some legitimate questions involving fairness, competitive effects, industry trends, and the like generated by accusations of payola,” he said, adding, “It is not necessarily a victimless crime.”

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  1. Nicky November 28, 2019

    Great. Hopefully a law is passed soon which will finally put a nail in Camickys coffin.

    ?????? she’s hoping her 7th Single will finallly be the Havana she wants


    How pathetic

  2. Jaquala Fletcher November 28, 2019

    I doubt the streaming I legit use Spotify heavy heavy and most top songs played EVERYDAY AND EVERYWHERE are shown on Spotify. I’m starting to feel like this is a reach

  3. Clarks00on November 28, 2019

    Pre-order Romance, the hot new album by grammy award winning songstress Camila Cabello.

    • Hey you November 28, 2019

      We’ll pass h0€

      • Clarksooon November 28, 2019

        The best album of 2019 is from grammy award winning songstress and Cuban legend Ms. Camila Cabello. Camila really is that b1tch. She makes the hos gag and the boys pay attention.

      • C***** November 29, 2019

        Grammy award winning songstress?
        Same way EMA’s aren’t VMAs stop lying b****.

  4. Clayne November 28, 2019

    No shade but Camila… grrrrrrl

  5. Clarksooon November 28, 2019

    The girls are scared.

    Havana-1.3 billion streams
    Seniorita- 1 billion streams

    First and only female lead artiste to have 2 songs with 1 billion streams each.

    Adele couldn’t do it
    Beyonce couldn’t do it
    Rihanna couldn’t do it
    Taylor swift couldn’t do it
    Arianna couldn’t do it
    Normani couldn’t do it ??????.

    Camila did this with only 1 album.
    Her solo career only 2 years old.

    They hate to see it.

    56 million monthly spotify listeners.

    Her power.
    New album predicated to sell 110k first week.

    Eligible for gold certification upon release

    Upon release the album is already Grammy nominated.

    Arena tour coming next year.
    New dates in latin America has been added.

    The demand for 2 time Grammy winner Camila is high as f****.

  6. Jasmine The Real Princess November 29, 2019

    Poor Shîtmila
    No wonder all her singles are flopping

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