Due to this power, they took advantage of artist’s need to 'blow' and exploited their position for moneymaking. Artists and especially, record labels – because music is a capitalist venture - started paying for unfair promotional overkill across turntables, radio and parties.
‘Payola’ was born. While it has since become a grey area with the emergence of the internet and the need of certain websites – like we have in Nigeria to make money, payola is still a reality Nigerian radio, but not as much with DJs anymore. Over the past few years, Pulse has discussed the issue payola in Nigeria.
A few days ago, UK-based Nigerian music critic, Tola Sarumi wrote on her Twitter page @AfroVII that, “Freeze was charging mandem over 100k to play their music. Lol. And radio is rigged. They play only ten songs in rotation so up and coming acts are screwed from the get go. Kai.”
It sparked outrage and that has led Freeze to actually respond to those claims - he has not bit his tongue. In fact, he has spoken of his justification to charge fees for his time and he also discussed the rationale behind such.
On April 8, 2019, OAP and self-appointed activist, Daddy Freeze had a conversation with rap legend, producer and all-round industry veteran, eLDee the Don on payola. The conversation was posted on his YouTube channel, Daddy Freeze. Eldee participated via a live video conversation.
The ‘Convener of the free the ‘sheeple’ movement’ made the decision to do this because he felt it time to address certain issues around the infamous issue of payola that binds radio and music in extra-musical factors of unfair advantage and exploitation of position – at least, that’s what it seems.
In his words, and from the opening minutes of the conversation, Daddy Freeze’s stance was clear. He said, “An artist has no problem paying Instablog or Linda Ikeji’s Blog or Tunde Ednut or any other blogger to promote their music, but they have a problem getting a presenter to promote their music.”
He further explains how radio presenters have their “logs” before they go on-air and they can only “legally influence” the log when certain situations demand certain types of music be played. He states that while he never has a problem with the music department, he has to use music to boost the ratings of his show. For that, he only plays “popping songs.”
He then breaks the problem down into two issues.
Problem one: ‘I will not play a whack song…’
The infamous critic of the Nigerian religious circles, however, states that, “I will not play a whack song on my show because the artist is up-and-coming. If your song is not nice, even it’s on my log, I will not pay it.”
As the chat progresses, the 23-year veteran then uses the angle of gospel musicians who charge money for their music as an analogy in a way that seems to justify an OAP’s right to also charge for using his skillset. He questions, “If a gospel musician can charge for his music, why does that gospel musician want to sit down with me and discuss with me for five minutes and expect me not to bill him for it?”
Problem two: ‘I am the equivalent of an SAN on radio…’
In a way, the OAP then uses the same rationale to justify his charge to artistes. He says, “I have my official hours at the radio station. If you are coming to me within my unofficial hours to have a meeting with me and you are making me go through the torture – which it is sometimes – to listen to three and a half minutes of your nonsense, literally… you should expect me to charge you for it.”
“I have spent 23 years on the radio… I have spent 11 years more than the Doctor to get to stage I have gotten to and you want to sit down with me for free, God will punish you! I am the equivalent of an SAN,” he added.
He then claims that his profile is not in artist promotion. However, he claims that with his followers on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube he will charge for any promotion he does. He then calls artists the most, “ungrateful, and entitled” set of people.
While he revealed he was building a church, Daddy Freeze claims that, “I will never support anybody playing music on the radio and charging move for it, but I will also never support a musician expecting a radio presenter to sit down with him and listen to his music and have a discussion with him for free.”
For eLDee, he says, “I was there in the early stages of what is today, Nigerian music… I think that a lot of times, in these conversations, people tend to miss the actual point of the argument… Number one is, there is a culture of entitlement, and it’s not just the music thing. It’s part of our fabric now…”
The Atlanta-based veteran feels that Nigerians now feel entitled to being helped for free by people who have worked to get where they are. He says that as a people, we need to acknowledge that it’s bad.
On the other hand, eLDee acknowledged the problem of “rent-seeking” in the Nigerian music industry. In his words, he says, “People like to use their position to seek rent…” He uses the example of unfair advantage in contract pursuits in exchange for favour in Nigeria parastatals as example.
He then goes further to liken rent-seeking to payola. He says, “An OAP by definition is someone who is hired to play music on the radio… who like you said can choose once in a while - and it’s perfectly and totally legal – to play some of the things that they feel they need to play in order to cater to their audience.
“Here is where it becomes rent-seeking. It becomes rent-seeking when I say to people that, ‘Hey you know what, if you want your music played on my show, just pay me and I’ll play it’… I’m going to use my position as an OAP to seek rent. That’s when it becomes bad.
“There’s kind of a thin line. (Then) How do you determine when someone is rent-seekin from when they’re consulting?”
Interestingly, Freeze also revealed some interesting facts about his affiliation to Maintain, and some backup stories about D’Banj, Timaya, P Square and Cabo Snoop.
You can watch the full conversation here;