Report: Shawn Mendes, Dua Lipa, & Ed Sheeran Named in Payola Scandal

Published: Wednesday 7th Oct 2020 by Rashad

In late 2019, the FCC launched an official probe of the music industry to investigate alleged practices of rampant “payola,” the act of a music platform (streaming or radio outlets mainly) accepting pay or bribes from record labels to boost an artist’s chart or certification stats (as we reported here).

Under the leadership of FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, the official examination targeted the Recording Industry Association of America, record labels, and streaming services (many of whom were not very cooperative) in the months that followed its launch before being deprioritized by the governmental organization due to the global health crisis.

The music industry may have thought it was off the hook thanks to O’Rielly’s cooled jets, but now a spotlight’s been reignited on the topic thanks to a scathing exposé recently published by our friends at ‘Rolling Stone.’

Details inside:

On Monday (October 5), the legendary music magazine published an article claiming they obtained over 2,500 text message correspondences between various industry professionals and Steve Zap, an independent radio promoter best known for his work at labels like MCA Records, Virgin Records, and Warner Records.

According to the explosive report, those texts allegedly showed Zap instructing some radio stations not to take orders from some labels directly because “they don’t pay” while billing and prioritizing others for rotation in prime airtime slots.

As the article gained traction, Zap denied wrongdoing and said his actions were within ‘legal bounds.’

“You say that I requested airplay and awarded [a station] with ‘consideration,’ and that such linkage is established by text messages,” he stated. “The actual texts, though, do not support your characterizations. In the texts, no specific consideration is linked with any specific instance of airplay. Therefore, allegations that I purchased airplay through quid pro quo agreements would be reckless and extremely damaging.”

His denial did little to quiet the chatter from disapproving fans and industry analysts.

And, while the artists themselves allegedly did not have anything to do with his listed dealings, the text messages specifically revealed hitmaking Pop artists Dua Lipa, Ed Sheeran, Halsey, Backstreet Boys, Ellie Goulding, and Shawn Mendes are just a few of the big names who have benefitted from his reported actions.

Naturally, it’s suspected many others who were not named enjoyed increased visibility as a result of his alleged pay-for-play deals.


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  1. Ugghh October 7, 2020

    Camilla we know you are on this list


    • Haterz Gon’ Hate October 8, 2020

      If ever there was a case of a label trying to make “fetch” happen by creating smoke and mirrors Camilla is IT 💯

    • Jessie Lindsey October 10, 2020

      No she is not she is not on that record label your just jealous cause shawn is on there Lol

      • Giovanni October 11, 2020

        U’re literally dragging somebody else who is way out of the picture just because shawn is involved, quit hating man

    • Jade ann October 13, 2020


    • Joe Myles October 14, 2020

      Oh for sure. She sucks hard.

  2. Nicky October 7, 2020

    Hahahahahahahahahahah haha

    Seniorita is a fraud. Camicky and her lies.

    No wonder it was added to her flop Album last minute. Her lead single flopped terribly

    Her ticket bundles for a canceled tour. Fraud

    • Jessie Lindsey October 10, 2020

      Dam you guys are that jealous what does this have to do with her wow what jealous peopleLol

  3. WRTW? October 7, 2020

    Add Cardi to the list, payola and sympathy honey 🍯

    • Clarksooooon October 8, 2020

      Why? Aren’t you a Nicki fan? You are the last to talk about payola when WE all know that payola was used for that bird to get her last #1 hit.

      • Buzz Off October 8, 2020

        Andbher ONLY #1 😂

  4. eric October 7, 2020

    Plenty more out there.

  5. Clarks0o0ñ October 8, 2020

    I dont stan shawn Mendes
    Just because he is dating Camila doesnt mean I care about it.

    Senorita debuted at number 2, blocked from number one by old town road.

    I alway knew dua used aggressive payola
    Dont start now was number 2 the same week she released future nostalgia, only for future nostalgia to still debut at number 4 with 18k in sales 😂.

    That’s how u know payola.

    • King z October 8, 2020

      But senorita was one of the year’s biggest hits but romance topped

      • Clarks0o0ñ October 8, 2020

        Atleast Roman didnt sell 18k pure sales and debuted at number like future nostalgia

        When Camila released Romance, senorita wasnt hot anymore.

        Senorita was released in july, Camila released Romance in December

        Dont start now was number 2 the same week future nostalgia was released, only for future nostalgia to sell 18k in pure sales and debuted at number 4. That’s how u know an artist uses payola

      • 🍭marilyn monh-O-E🍭(da Nasty one👵🏿) October 8, 2020

        Shut it troll. Senorita’s success is the product of payola, no matter how slice and dice it. The truth will set you free bįtch. 🖕🏻🖕🏻💁🏼‍♀️💋💋

      • Clarks0o0ñ October 8, 2020

        A song that debuted at number 2 can never be a product of payola.
        U tried and failed, pls dont try again

      • 🍭marilyn monh-O-E🍭(da Nasty one👵🏿) October 8, 2020

        Shut it troll. DL’s Don’t Stop Now debuted at #30 on the hot 100 before ascending to #2. Yet by your reasoning, failing to debut at # 1 = no payola. So which is it, troll? Either both Senorita and DSN are payola hits or both aren’t. See how dumb you sound???? 🖕🏻🖕🏻💁🏼‍♀️💋

      • Clarks0o0ñ October 8, 2020

        Dùmb ass, dont start now debuted at number 30 but fell down the chart the following week.
        The song kept on falling until her label started doing payola for the song.

        Seniorita debuted at number 2, and stayed in the top 3 for several weeks before hitting number 1.
        It never left the top 5 for several weeks.

        That’s how u know a hit.
        Dumb àss

        U sound dumb just like onlyflops

    • Tori October 8, 2020


      • Clarks0o0ñ October 8, 2020

        Senorita debuted at number 2.
        Got blocked by old town road.

        So that’s an organic hit

        U try and failed, now try again

        I thought yall said senorita is not Camila’s song? Clowns

        Camila would continue to win and yall will continue to cry

    • Cory October 8, 2020

      I knew something was weird about Dua when “Don’t” was no where to be found on Apple Music but top five on Spotify lol.

  6. Clarks0o0ñ October 8, 2020


    Physical had no payola so the song didnt go anywhere.

    Same with all her other songs that flopped.

    Dont get me wrong, dua is popular in Europe cause Europeans love that trashy dance music but dua is a flop in America.

    Remember levitating remix with missy and madonna, that song didnt go anywhere cause it had no payola.

    Dua lipa’s debut album peaked at number 27,

    Dua lipa is a product of aggressive payola and play listing

    • melinda October 8, 2020

      yes i was really impressed it entered the top of the hot 100 . YIKES

  7. dispensador de sabão em latão October 8, 2020

    Such a lovely blog!

  8. MK October 8, 2020

    a few days ago I unfollowed the shade room because I realised how its a waste of my time and never anything informative. Today, reading this article I feel the same. This story is a non motherfucken factor. It has nothing tho do with these acts and your writing is horrible. With all the constant hate and no forward thinking, what’s the point of this blog honestly? TRASH AND TRAGEDY!!!

    • Flopyonce October 8, 2020

      Your mom is trash

    • Pu$$yPop$tre$$ October 8, 2020

      in the time it took you to write this essay you could’ve just left

      no one knew u were here in the first place, so u wont be missed

  9. 🍭marilyn monh-O-E🍭(da Nasty one👵🏿) October 8, 2020

    I know some of y’all in here are getting paid to become TROLLS💁🏿‍♀️💁🏿‍♀️💁🏿‍♀️ Since it’s a job no wonder some of y’all are trolling 24/7. Enjoy the s-h-I-t-t-y paid, probably $10/hr, $0.25 each comment. 💅🏿💅🏿💅🏿 God bless TGJ

    • Facts r Facts October 8, 2020


    • 🍭marilyn monh-O-E🍭(da Nasty one👵🏿) October 8, 2020

      A check is a check bįtch. Stay mad!!!! 💋💋💁🏼‍♀️🖕🏻🖕🏻

      • 🍭marilyn monh-O-E🍭(da Nasty one👵🏿) October 8, 2020

        A hit is a hit. A h-0–e is a h-o-e. Hot mess like u need To send straight to animal shelter 💅🏿💅🏿💅🏿 Trashy ashy saggy bish. U f-u/c-king animal

      • 🍭marilyn monh-O-E🍭(da Nasty one👵🏿) October 8, 2020

        I’m an animal using this motherfucking account tho. Cry about it 🦒 🦔 🦓 😂😂💋🖕🏻🖕🏻💁🏼‍♀️

  10. Duhduhduh October 8, 2020

    This is why most new music are trash !! We need real music back not these gimmick joke artist like Cardi B , Meg thee man & Dua Lipa . They are clearly doing strange things for fame . Atlantic records and Tidal are definitely frauds too !!! Payola needs to stop ASAP !! So real talent can shine !!

    • Haterz Gon’ Hate October 8, 2020

      Corruption has been around since forever (just look at the shenanigans with how black artists were treated in the 1960’s) and the music industry will not clean up its act anytime soon anymore than Hollywood will.

  11. #WAP October 8, 2020

    Senorita is involved so might as well throw Camila in there as well.

    • Clarks0o0ñ October 8, 2020

      The way u lie

      Senorita debuted at number 2 blocked from the number one spot by old town road

      That’s a hit.

      • #WAP October 8, 2020

        Honey, Senorita is a product of payola. Remove the streams from Senorita and the tour bundles and romance sold 15k. The way you lie. Camila is the face of payola and everyone knows it. Two major hits yet can’t sell out a tour? 😩 Make it make sense

  12. PinotNoir October 8, 2020

    I knew hobbit Ed was paying!

    Dua prolly paid for sophomore.

    But, Shawn + Backstreets? 👀

  13. James October 9, 2020

    Boring still doesn’t take away from Dua’s success she still did well with other songs on Billboard. I read the article about this dumb immature case. There are lots of artist on the list who are guilty of this lol Marshmello , Halsey, PINK Sia . LSD etc. Artist do this all time. The Haters are disgusting trash!!

    • Franklin October 9, 2020

      Dua Lipa using payola isn’t surprising. She’s just another run of the mill Spotify workout playlist artist.

  14. Gary Ryckewaert October 12, 2020

    The artists who benefitted from this (unwittingly) should be banned from radio play at those stations for 3 months (unwittingly). Fair is fair, maybe then they will choose better representatives.

    • Ana October 26, 2020


  15. Clarice October 14, 2020

    I think its great that ur exposing them but have you thought to interrogate mrs Camilla cabbello because after all she is dating Shawn Mendes

  16. Elwood October 14, 2020

    You’re just made she’s hotter than you. Stop hating on someone because you are jealous.

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