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New York State Attorney General Probes Record Industry

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Four major record companies – Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, EMI Group and Warner Music Group — have been subpoenaed by the New York State Attorney General’s office in its investigation of practices used for influencing what songs are heard on the radio, reports The New York Times. Investigators in Eliot Spitzer’s office are looking for information detailing any relationship with independent promoters – middlemen – who pitch new songs to radio programmers in New York State.

Payola aka pay-to-play — paying a station money to get a song on the radio — is illegal only if the radio station fails to inform listeners that the song is a paid endorsement by its record label, according to the FCC.

Radio Stations are paid annual fees by independent promoters, often more than $100,000, but not to play specific songs, the indie promoters say, but rather to get advance copies of their playlists, the Times reports. Each time a new song is played, the promoters bill the record labels, amounting to tens of millions of dollars each year.

"EMI, along with other companies in the music and broadcast industries, has received a request from the N.Y. state attorney general for information regarding practices in connection with the promotion of records on New York state radio stations," EMI said in a statement. "We are cooperating fully with this inquiry, which is at a preliminary stage."