Remember the time when you read a review and it praised the album, maybe they mentioned a song and your thinking, “what the”.
Once upon a time, reviewers had an opinion and some critical analysis took place. And it was their subjective opinion. And as fans we would take a chance on an album based on a review and if we agreed with the reviewer, we would put that reviewer as a trusted source.
And the record labels didn’t really care about these opinions from reviewers as they were already cooking the books and charts with the record stores and radio stations. But they got busted doing it and suddenly, the labels needed a new outlet for their payola.
So the labels started to pay people to deliver favorable reviews. And these reviewers suddenly had a nice label income coming in.
And if a reviewer posted a review that was critical of an album, well the label reps would call them and tell them how their review is killing their business and that particular release and how they all gotta work together.
In other words, post positive reviews or your record label money will disappear.
And if you kept to your guns and pointed out deficiencies on albums then eventually the labels would drop you as an approved reviewer and move on to someone else who was more than happy to be positive.
But most reviewers are music fans to begin with so they will always have an opinion for and against the new music. And it’s a shame if they don’t state it for the sake of money.
Here are the Twitter posts which inspired this post from a Andrew McNeice who runs the MelodicRock website.
9 thoughts on “Record Label Review Payola”
It backfires because you can spot the over-positive review sites a mile off. In which case you either ignore them or don’t trust them. If you rely on a reviewer for recs you have to trust their opinion.
I remember this thread of Andrew’s and I am believe every bit of it. There were times some of his reviews were too positive and totally disagreed with him and there were times he was really critical and he was right. I do think he played favorites at times with some artists, but honestly, I do to as there are some bands that can do no wrong, although I will point out when I don’t like something they’ve done it is still hard to be too critical on your absolute favorites. There is that bias built in on those bands.
Agreed John. We have our biases and that’s fine but we can also point out if things are good or not. Your reviews on The Vault are perfect examples of this.
I will always point out the faults, but maybe my scores might be higher on the ones I am a little partial on, but they won’t be perfect if the album isn’t.
Record companies don’t give a shit about a hack writer like me, LOL So I will continue to bash and praise as I see fit. The way I see it Pete is I paid for it which is the difference I’m sure Melodic rock guy was getting freebies so I can see that angle for sure.
Pissing off your Boss is basically this scenario as the Boss is the record company.
Agreed Deke. Labels don’t care about writers like us and then again they wouldn’t want to work with people who have a viewpoint.
Geez, you’d think in this day and age reviews wouldn’t mean much when anyone can stream an album before buying it. I stick to write-ups on WordPress for recommendations, then stream it so I can decide for myself if I want it.
Same. But the labels still think that reviews matter and there’s more than enough people ready and willing to fill the PR machine of the label.
I suppose the perception of something being good is more important that it actually being good, lol