Sonny Digital Claims Hit Songs On The Radio Are Still The Result Of Payola

Yohance Kyles (@HUEYmixwitRILEY)

The producer goes on the record to say the illegal practice has not stopped.

(AllHipHop News) Sonny Digital has been very outspoken about financial issues associated with the music business. The beatmaker for Future’s "Same Damn Time,” 2 Chainz’s "Birthday Song,” and ILoveMakonnen’s "Tuesday" called for a union to protect producers.

In a new interview with Montreality, Sonny discusses another economic concern in the industry. He claimed the illegal practice of “pay for play” still takes place when it comes to getting radio spins.

“That song going crazy on the radio, that’s payola. Somebody’s paying the radio station to play the song, so it’s not like its genuine plays or people genuinely like the music,” said Digital. “It’s payola. I see it.”

The Atlanta resident continued, “People are paying for the radio every day. I didn’t believe it until somebody was like, ‘Next week, this song right here is going to be #1 because they just cut the bag on this.’ Then, boom, next week it was #1.”

Currently, Billboard chart placement for songs is determined by combining radio airplay, paid digital downloads, and on-demand streams. Drake’s “God’s Plan” tops this week’s Hot 100 while also leading the Streaming Songs chart (68.5 million U.S. streams), but the track is only at #4 on the Radio Songs chart (104 million in all-format airplay audience).

Streaming has become the most popular method of consuming music. It accounted for 41% of listening time in 2017, according to a Nielsen Music report. Terrestrial and Satellite radio made up only 24% of listening time in that same year.

There have been accusations that paid manipulation influences popular streaming services as well. However, that practice is not illegal. Spotify even experimented with adding “sponsored songs” from labels to users’ playlists.

Payola scandals have tarnished the music business going back to the 1950s. In 2005, Sony BMG agreed to pay $10 million following a “pay for play” investigation by then-New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.