A recent bombshell report by Rolling Stone pulled back the veil on an increasingly common practice in which record labels spend a sometimes exorbitant amount of cash on a form of advertising meant to increase a video’s views – thus increasing the perception of a video’s popularity in its first 24 hours. Though these “purchased” views pay out less than the money spent on them, they serve to essentially build hype for new videos, and create better placement within Youtube’s algorithm, eventually translating to a higher rate of organic views.
And while the practice is perfectly legal within Youtube’s rules, it’s raised many eyebrows – particularly within the Latin music industry, where it’s more prevalent due to a lower cost per view.
The report has many wondering what implications this practice could have on smaller labels or artists without the means to “game” the system, and Raphy Pina of Pina Records (the Puerto Rican powerhouse label behind artists like Daddy Yankee, Luny Tunes, Don Omar, and Natti Natasha, among others) took to Twitter to point out that the similarity in this practice to the days of hiring people to promote singles in the days of radio’s dominance.
In response to a Twitter user asking him, Ozuna, and Daddy Yankee if they had any comment on this, Pina replied: “Yes, back when it was only radio, those who didn’t invest in promoters for their records didn’t get listened to. Now everyone has the format of digital streaming in which you can promote your product to get a wider reach. It’s super basic. Invest, gentlemen.”
Pina’s commentary is of course in reference to radio promoters, but the implications of the report – and the similarities with how the radio business often worked until relatively recently – harkens back to the days of “payola,” which shows that the more things change, the more they stay the same.