The Stormzy’s official tour DJ who hosts the show from 7 pm to 9 pm Friday night slot on the station since 2018, was removed from the Capital Xtra schedules and his profile expunged from its website after a producer claimed to have received an email saying he would premier a track on his Friday night show and keep it on his playlist for two weeks for a fee of £200.
Born Frank Boakye-Yiadom, released a statement saying he “took advantage of his position” and apologized to all those he had let down. “I take full responsibility for my actions and fully accept the consequences,” he wrote. But, the Guardian stated that Global Radio, the parent company of Capital and Capital Xtra, declined to comment on the situation.
The issue of pay-for-play or “payola” – the practice of making payments in order to have your song played on a station – was a persistent issue in US radio in the 1970s and 1980s, with several high-profile legal actions against those who practiced it.
Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code includes a specific reference to the practice. “No commercial arrangement that involves payment, or the provision of some other valuable consideration, to the broadcaster may influence the selection or rotation of music for broadcast,” section 10.5 of the code, states.
The consequences of breaking the Broadcasting Code are potentially serious, with the watchdog able to take enforcement action, including revoking a license, if a broadcaster breaks them.
Practices in the UK industry have been questioned before, with accusations that DJs favored acts managed by their partners or signed to their own labels, and that stations with artist management arms gave their own acts more airtime.
The issue of acts and managers paying to get songs on potentially hit-making Spotify playlists was investigated in 2015 by Billboard, which claimed managers were paying “$2,000 for a playlist with tens of thousands of fans to $10,000 for the more well-followed playlists.”
Spotify terms of service explicitly prohibit “selling a user account or playlist, or otherwise accepting any compensation, financial or otherwise, to influence the name of an account or playlist or the content included on an account or playlist.”
The streaming service recently denied that there was a “pay-to-playlist” or sale of its playlists after a report that some curators were asking for monthly retainers to be included on lists.