Payola, in the American music industry, is the illegal practice of payment or other inducement by record companies for the broadcast of recordings on music. *Unless the station publicly declares that a song is sponsored*
Now with that said. There is a site that is doing just that. Earbits, an online radio startup lets consumer feel like its a Pandora clone. There are 40 radio stations. Just pick on a genre and the music will start playing. All you see is a big picture of the artist & their bio. The design is very well done.
You can thumbs up/down on songs, and you can skip to the next track if you don’t like the one that’s currently playing. Just like every other online radio sites. Earbits will allow bands to pay to have their songs played more frequently. CEO Joey Flores is confident that it’s a model that both bands and users will benefit from.
Right now the site is free for everyone, including bands. The site will automatically pull in calendar dates from MySpace, ticket information and in order to share a song with friends, you’ll have to ‘Like’ the artist’s Facebook Page.
Earbits isn’t dealing with the big labels. Seems to me if they did the indent feel would go away real fast since big labels would just have so much cash that an independent would have no chance. Smart move, it’s making deals directly with smaller labels and artists. So far the site has signed deals with 1300 artists across 90 small labels and says more are on the way. With it’s easy to use self signup form it is super simple to get put on the site. Bands are asked to send two songs at first. They are reviewed by the Earbits team. If they pass the test then bands can upload as many songs as they wish. This is a great idea and no ads helps sell this. I was a skeptic but after taking some time with the site I must say it is very well done and a great opportunity for new artist. I also found that well established artist such as KRS-ONE had songs on there that were not ever released.